March 3rd -5th
Guatemala has been quite the experience. I arrived on the 3rd of March with Emily. I stayed with her Tia (Aunt) & Tio (Uncle) until the 5th. I ate delicious traditional Guatemalan breakfast that consisted of sweet plantains, tortillas, fresh guacamole, beans, and scrambled eggs. Surprisingly, Guatemalan food is not spicy at all. I was tremendously disappointed because I LOVE spicy food. The Guatemalans say it’s the Mexicans who cook with extra spices-not them. There are so many American chains in the city-McDonalds, Burger King, Chile’s, Fridays, and a few more. For the Guatemalan people, I’m sure they enjoy being able to eat non traditional foods. However, as a tourist I obviously did not want to eat my food. Emily’s cousin drove us around seemingly forever to simply find some Guatemalan food. The easiest way to find traditional food is to look for the street vendors. Their food is delicious!
I am an urban planning/environmental science student. Guatemala has many earthquakes, so they never build skyscrapers. The landscape kind of reminds me of Washington D.C-wide streets and low buildings. The capital is home to about 4 million people, a fast growing city. I feel safe in Guatemala, even as a tourist. The streets for the most part are clean, the roads are in good condition, and their shopping malls are humongous. They have so much high technology inside-touch screen directories, water bumper cars, parking garages with digital signs that show how many parking spaces are available, etc. Unfortunately, most of the money goes to the cities development. We haven’t been to the coast yet, but the more rural areas are not as fortunate. I have definitely enjoyed my stay here though.
March 6th – 7th
We stayed in Antigua, one of the old capitals of the country and also extremely touristy. I saw so many Europeans there, sometimes even more than locals. I spent most of my time at the local markets, looking at the paintings and trying to bargain with the little Spanish. Our hostel, “Casa Rustica” was very nice-spanish architecture. We went out for dinner at a local restaurant. There were police everywhere; apparently they were trying to do a big drug bust. They wouldn’t sell any drinks-including water for a while. It was a nice spot, but because Antigua is so touristy-police have to always be on their guard. There is only one entrance into the city, it is very “small town” feeling to me. I believe the population is about 150,000 people.
We spent the day in Pana city. We visited the lake and could see FIVE surrounding volcanoes; it was beautiful. Some of us went hang gliding, while others toured the rest of the city. I found this gorgeous satchel bag, hand made leather and the guy would’ve carved my name into it. I needed to withdraw more currency, but he was leaving for Ecuador that night. I lost a great deal, and it was definitely one of a kind.
My eyes have been bigger than my stomach lately. I ordered two dishes for breakfast, and didn’t bother trying to start my second dish. This 10 year old little boy was trying to sell us traditional clothing pieces, so he ended up eating my plate for me. He was a sweet kid-favorite subject was math. Like most 10 year olds, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. I’ve got 11 years on him, and I’m uncertain at times ha. I was glad to see he was still in school. A lot of street hawkers don’t have time to maintain studies and sell for a living. It can be very sad, but its not only common in developing countries. This makes me extremely excited about visiting the elementary school soon.
I’ll keep you updated. Also, this is my first true blogging experience. If I’m not detailed enough, let me know! Hope you enjoy our post and pictures.
Until next time everybody! =-)
March 9th & 10th:
We spent the last couple of days in the rural town of El Chipedero with Emily’s grandparents, aunts, and cousins. Locals consider this rural because it is away from the main cities, but I was surprised to see how many amenities were still pretty readily available. Water, electricity, brick housing structures seems to be the norm around here. I’ve been told that the extreme poverty exist more towards the mountains. Because of the surrounding rivers, the roads are made of mainly large stones-or gravel. Coffee allows some people to make a fortune off the land. Emily’s family cooked us an amazing typical Guatemalan dinner-I finally ate everything I was yearning for here! We ate deliciously grilled steak, guacamole, tortillas, plantains, beans, and fresh blackberry juice.
Also, we finally reached The Official Rural Mixed School of El Chipedero. There we passed out the school supplies baggies we prepared, had lunch with the principals and teachers, and gave them the money we earned from our fundraising activities at Miami. The school will be using the money to renovate the restrooms because they are currently either in poor sanitary conditions, or simply not working. The kids definitely made our visit worth it, and Guate Bonita will continue working with the school next Christmas Break.
March 11th & 12th:
The last two days in Guatemala were spent mainly in Guatemala city. We did not have time to return to Antigua unfortunately. We were able to see the city center, the downtown and other residential areas as well. I loved how spacious downtown was, it had a lot of public space, museums, and other attractions. There were American chains like Wendy’s there, and we all really wanted ice cream….but I refused to eat any American food while in Guate ha. Guatemala was a wonderful experience. The children, the food, the beautiful volcanoes/scenery….we will return. Thank all of you who supported our mission, Guate Bonita is truly thankfully!