12/9/09 - 9/13/09 80 °F
After a night of flying, we arrived safe in Guatemala City this morning at 6:30 am. Unfortunately, our luggage was reticent to join us on the journey and spent a night on the town in Chicago without us. Apparently, a five hour layover is not enough time to crawl four terminals over. Luckily, TACA Air is delivering it to our hostal in Antigua tomorrow morning--and so we are putting off the inevitable unheated Central American shower until our soap arrives.
Though some blog posters and tour books will tell you that Guatemala City is a run down cesspool of 4 million people filled with danger and ghoulies around every corner, we found this not to be the case. The airport was much nicer than many American airports we´ve seen and though we made a direct path to our hostal in Antigua, Guatemala City looked ¨llena de vida.¨ From the pure sight of it, clean with people running and biking, it looked more well kept than LA or Philadelphia. However, instead of staying there, we came straight to Antigua, a colonial city 45 minutes away, nestled in a valley between three giant volcanoes. It is comfortable, clean, with cobblestone streets and a big central square. There seems to be a giant ornate white or pastel-colored Catholic church every four blocks and a religious procession every hour with incense, a horn marching band, firecrackers that echo off the steel and concrete houses, and priests strolling in full regale. But, we did arrive two days before Guatemalan Independence Day, so that seems to be the cause for all the celebration. The weather is perfect (80 degrees or so) and an afternoon thunderstorm is brewing on the volcano as we write.
We are planning on staying here for two days until we head to Lake Atitlán to start Spanish classes and volunteering. The food so far is good and affordable and sold at the local fiesta. I have already brushed my teeth with the tap water (oops!) and Kim ate a bunch of watery green peppers today prior to my reminder that they use tap water to wash them and often fertilize them with human fecies (Kim wanted me to add this part). So we will just have to wait and see how easy our next two days are!