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Erica's Travel Adventures

Antigua weeks 4 and 5

GUATEMALA | Tuesday, 19 February 2013 | Views [399]

It’s been a little while since I have written anything so bear with me as I go through the last two weekends and the previous week as briefly as possible…


The morning after I got back from the lake I woke up with a horrible stomachache and didn’t go to the orphanage or Spanish.  I slept almost the whole day.  My host father gave me medicine (I imagine he is very used to seeing foreigners get sick).  Tuesday morning I went to the orphanage for about 30 minutes and then went back home to sleep because, although I was feeling better, I still wasn’t 100%.  I went to class that afternoon, however, and by Wednesday morning I felt almost perfect.  I went to the orphanage, played with the kids, and it was a normal day.  In Spanish we had a very long talk about the culture in Guatemala around pregnancy.  My teacher very patiently answered our questions.  She informed us that sex is completely taboo in Guatemala and that girls are taught from a young age not to get pregnant but not how one becomes pregnant.  They are just expected to know.  Girls are often kicked out and shunned if they become pregnant at a young age.  These girls are looked down upon by their whole community.  My teacher told us that she got pregnant at 19 and literally had no idea she was pregnant or how it happened.  She works very hard to teach her 4 daughters to not get pregnant at a young age and to get an education and be independent.  I always enjoy having cultural conversations in my classes, and it is good practice to listen to someone speaking in Spanish.


Thursday and Friday were also pretty standard days with volunteer work and class.  Friday I went with Margot, Desi, Josey, and our new friend Beth to happy hour to get drinks and dinner at a place called Lavo.  We ate delicious hamburgers and got drinks for $1.  Then we walked to Central Park to listen to the band playing.  We went out to a couple of bars and had a lot of fun! 


Saturday morning I woke up early with my roommate Emily and we went to an animal shelter in a neighboring town to volunteer.  Emily does construction in the mornings at the shelter and the woman in charge asked if she could help her out on Saturday because she was shorthanded.  We had to take the chicken bus and then hike up a hill for about 25 minutes to get to the shelter.  Then we walked dogs around the massive property.  This shelter is the largest one for animals in Central America with over 300 animals.  They dogs were smelly and all over the place.  It was so chaotic.  Walking them was a nightmare.  They wandered all over the place and when we gave them treats they all jumped all over us at once.  Some of the dogs were sick and had picked up so really nasty habits of eating disgusting things.  Others were really aggressive and had to be walked on leashes.  As much as I love dogs, I did not like being at the shelter.  It was really overwhelming and although getting these dogs off the streets and into the shelter is a great alternative, they are still very under cared for. 


After the shelter I went home and meant to take a nap but Desi, Margot, and Josey came over and we went to get ice cream and sit in the park for a little bit. Then I showered and got dressed because the Farchis were picking me up to see a concert that evening.  Oshi and David picked me up and brought me to the concert venue, an old, beautiful church.  Ari met us there, but Dani was in Boston and didn’t come.  We saw an Israeli acapella group called Voca People.  They were incredible!  They sounded amazing and were really funny!  After the concert we went to eat dinner at a small restaurant near my house in Antigua.  I was exhausted by the end of the night and went to bed right after they dropped me off because they were picking me up early the next morning.


Sunday I woke up so I would be ready for the Farchis.  We went to another town to plant trees and have lunch for Tu’Beshvat with the Jewish community.  It was really nice but I was so tired and not feeling very well.  I thought at first that I was just very tired.  They dropped me back off at my house that evening.  I was supposed to go meet my roommates at a sports bar to watch the Superbowl, but I was so tired that I needed to take a nap.  I woke up an hour later feeling sick and awful, much like the week before.  I was pretty miserable and tried to go back to sleep.  I slept from 5:30 pm more or less until 12:00 pm Monday afternoon.  I spoke with a few other people and realized that I probably had a stomach bacteria and that because I never finished taking the medicine it never actually left my body.  So I stayed home and slept a lot again Tuesday and took it easy for the rest of the week until Friday when I finally felt better.  I am finishing an entire round of antibiotics this time so that it doesn’t come back.


Friday afternoon I went with Desi and Margot and a few local friends we made through my roommate Sunny to the city to go to the Gallo Factory.  It was cool to see where the beer is made, and we got free beers at the end.  I actually didn’t mind one of the types called Monte Carlo.  Then our friends, Marvin and Eric, took us to the Central Park in the city and to a couple of local bars to have snacks and a drink.  We didn’t end up heading back to Antigua until late and were all tired and hungry when we got there.  We grabbed a quick dinner at the only place we could find open at 10:30, and then they dropped me off at home. 


The next morning I went with my roommates Emily and Dave to get breakfast at a delicious place called Cookies Etc.  I had granola, fruit, and yogurt.  It was so good!  Then we picked up Noah and Dainia and met with my friend Beth to walk around Antigua and see some sites.  We went to the cemetery, which is interesting because all of the people are buried above ground (so I guess they aren’t really buried?).  There are some pretty extravagant grave sites that are big enough for whole families.  Then we went to La Recollecion, which is ruins from a church and convent that were destroyed in a massive earthquake in the 1700’s.  The chunks of brick laying everywhere were huge and really incredible to see.  It is hard to take in how old it really was.  I really enjoyed seeing it.  Then we briefly went into La Merced, a huge Catholic church with beautiful architecture on the outside.  Then Dainia, Dave, and I went up to cera de la cruz, hill of the cross.  It is literally a hill with a massive cross on it.  From up there you can see all of Antigua with the volcanoes in the background.  It is really stunning.  For dinner that night, Beth took us to a little Mediterranean food place.  I had shoarma that very really good.  Then we went somewhere else to get crepes for dessert. 


Sunday morning Dainia and I went to shop for gifts etc.  We stopped at a street market and spent a really long time there.  Dainia found some jewelry that was handmade and really cool so we each bought a few things.  The guy who made it was really friendly and fun to talk to (in Spanish, might I add).  He told Dainia that he would lower the price if she gave him a kiss.  She said no.  We ended up shopping all day except for a quick lunch break.  It was glorious. It was nice to have a weekend to relax and explore Antigua, but I am also very excited to start traveling again this coming weekend in Tikal! 

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