So the journey begins – I’ve spent the past few days in the beautiful city of Antigua in Guatemala. My first meaningful experience in Guatemala happened on the car ride to Antigua with my driver Enrique. We dove deep and really connected on what we can individually do to help the world. It was pretty awesome to connect with someone about topics that are really meaningful to me almost instantaneously. I would have never imagined in a million years that the first conversation that I would have in Guatemala would be about the environment, global warming, and Mayan spirituality.
What also struck me from my discussion with Enrique was how concerned he was about current events in the world. We talked about his concern over Monsanto genetically engineered seeds, the situation in Ukraine, ISIS in the middle east, droughts in Guatemala & California, and global warming. The interesting thing is all these events have something to do directly or indirectly with America. No matter what Guatemala does it can’t prevent a new war from breaking out, nor can it reduce CO2 emissions significantly to dampen the effects of global warming. Although, I didn’t directly bring it up, I was thinking how unfair it must feel for Guatemalans to live in a world where their lives can be massively affected by the decisions countries like ours make.
After arriving in Antigua I went to the terrace of my hostel and took in the view. This city is gorgeous, built around a town square and surrounded by volcanoes. The colonial city feel is maintained by the cobble stone roads and architecture. Later that night I met some people working for NGOs in Guatemala. They were a really welcoming group of people and their passion for the projects they worked on was contagious. After I make my way around Guatemala I’m seriously thinking of coming back to Antigua for a few more weeks to volunteer.
I’m also absolutely in love with the culture here. Everywhere I go everyone has been so warm and accepting. The way the locals interact with everyone is as if they are family and with affection. It also seems like a much slower pace of life here. It’s pretty funny to see all the locals leisurely walking the streets, whereas, the tourists zoom past them intent on getting to their destination. Its also not uncommon to see friends or families holding hands while walking, a site that is unfortunately uncommon and missing at times. Observing all this reminds me to take life a bit slower and the importance of the relationships in my life.
Over the past few days I did a couple hikes and spent most of my time just walking around the streets. It’s the wet season, so it ends up raining everyday in the evening which is actually quite pleasant. I decided to extend my stay in Antigua and do Spanish classes this week. Its been a long time I studied in a classroom setting, and even longer time since I studied for fun. Up next is a possible overnight hike to two of the nearby volcanoes (one of which is spewing lava) and then taking off for Xela or Lake Atitlan sometime next week.