Vamos a Guatemala! // Part I

Hi friends!

Yes, it has been a while since  I have updated this blog, but I’ve been traveling and doing lots of exicting things that I can now share with you guys. Where do I even begin?

As I have mentioned before, Lina and I were thinking about doing our language course in Nicaragua but due to the current protests and uprising revolution, we decided to head to Guatemala instead. Compared to any language courses in Costa Rica and Panama, the one we found in Antigua, Guatemala was definitely the most affordable one. The flights were pretty cheap as well, and the country itself is also a bargain for any traveler. I headed over to Lina’s house in Heredia on Thursday night with all my belongings for the upcoming trip. On friday morning we decided to visit the Irazú vulcano, which is the biggest vulcano in Costa Rica. All you have to do is take a bus from San Jose at 8am and it will bring you up to the top. It cost us 15$ entry which is kind of a lot, but almost every National Park or Nature attraction here is very expensive so we weren’t suprised. It was very cold, but we had a very nice view over the crater that holds a shimmery, turquois colored lake in its center. We stayed up there for about 2 hours, just looking and walking around. It was the first vulcano I have seen, and I was definitely impressed – Mother Nature never disappoints!  On the way back we got out the bus in Cartago, one of the bigger cities in Costa Rica. We visited the famous church called: Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles  and just strolled around and sat in a Cafe for a while. As curious as we are, we also wanted to try to take the train that has a connection between Cartago and San José, and supposedly Heredia as well. The main transportation here really are the buses, they cost under 1 one way and have many stops and pretty comfortable seats. The train was pretty rusty, we were standing almost the entire time just looking out of the window. It didn’t go really fast and only made about 5 stops, I think 3 of them were stops at Universities which is pretty convenient for the students. We got out in San José and decided to take the bus back to Heredia, because that definitely is the more comfortable and the easier option as the bus stops right in front of Lina’s house. In total we had a great day trip and we were really happy to explore more of Costa Rica. On Saturday we went to Freakz (youth program), where we practiced aerial silks and afterwards we hung out with our friends – it’s always a really good time and we are so happy to have found this place and made so many local friends.

On Sunday we had our flight to Guatemala – we took an uber to the airport and checked in. The flight lasted barely over an hour and once we arrived at the airport in Guatemala City, we got picked up by a driver from our language school that we had booked. We then drove to Antigua, where we would stay for one week to complete our course. We got introduced to our host family which consisted of Eluvia the mother and Gustavo the father and their son and daugther (which we barely saw though). Lina and I were sharing a room, and there were also 5 other students and one family staying with us at the same homestay. It was more of a hotel feeling rather than a close one on one host family atmosphere. For the rest of the day we just got organized at the language school – Maximo Nivel , and we got to know the other people. On Monday we started our course – we both had booked 6 hours a day because our organization Kulturweit requires 30 hours of classes and we just wanted to do it all at once. The day  before we had to do a test so they could estimate our spanish level and for whatever reason Lina and I ended up in the best group that they currently had. The first day we were 4 people in total, our teacher was Antonio and he was super chill. I immediately felt that the level was way too high for me because the problem is that I do not know a lot of grammar. I just started ‘learning by doing’  once I got to Costa Rica. And Lina has been stuying spanish for over 5 years in high school and has traveled to other latinamerican countries where she practiced even more. She ended up switching her 4 hour group class to 2 hours private, so she had 4 hours of private class, beause the level for her was basically too easy. For my private class I had a teacher named Magaly, she was nice but it wasn’t a very personal class atmosphere compared to Antonio’s class. After the second day I decided to switch my group to a lower level and I got into Sandra’s class. The level was still a little too high but it was so much better than before. We learned different types of grammar and practiced pronouncuation and speaking about different topics. Every day for that week we had breakfast at 7:30am, then I had 4 hours of group starting at 9am and Lina had 2 hours of private starting at 11am. Then we had a one hour lunch break where we would usually meet up with the other students from our homestay and eat at a restaurant together. At 2pm we both had another 2 hours of private class. The entire week seriously flew by, and it was very exhausting. I was definitely not used to studying , concentrating and sitting for such a long time everyday. I could definitely feel how my body and mind were melting from the inside. During the week I also took part in a free salsa class, which I really enjoyed and Lina and I also participated in the Photo Walk, which was basically a little tour around Antigua where a photographer showed us the secret spots for the best photos, it was really interesting! Also the city of Antigua is part of the UNESCO world heritage  which I didn’t know! Both activities were free and organized by Maximo Nivel. Another day we also hiked up Cerro de la Cruz –  a little hill with a huge cross on top of it and a stunning view over the city of Antigua. Some other night we drank a few beers in a bar, and another two nights I went to some salsa places to practice my moves. On Friday I had a field trip with my group and we took a Chickenbus  (name of the public buses in Guatemala) to a nearby town called San Juan del Obispo. We visited the local convent, a chocolate production and a wine production site. It was very intresting and felt super good to get out of the classroom for a while. Later that night all the students from our homestay decided to go out, so we went to El Barrio first, which is basically a inner courtyard that has different bars in it and a rooftop. It’s a very cool place because you have many options and there is something for everyone! Afterwards we went to Las Vibras de la Casbah – a popular club in Antigua. We danced our butts off and had a really great last night together, but sadly the party stopped at like 1am! So lame haha but they have some weird laws ya know… Anyways on Saturday we just strolled around, bought some souvenirs and enjoyed our last day in Antigua. We had checked out of our homestay and left our bags at the school, where we told the guy at the reception that our shuttle would pick us up at 6:30pm and we would come back at that time to take our bags. However  the guy either didn’t listen or understand because when we got back around 6:10 ish, the doors of the schools were locked. The guy forgot to tell us that they close at 6pm on saturdays! We tried to call all the emergency numbers that they gave us but no one picked up, we went back to our homestay and talked to the others but we had no idea what to do! Then luckily  the guy showed up, he literally came back because he had forgotten his pizza slices!! He told us that he thought we already left and that he definitely misunderstood. We got our bags and were finally good to go. The shuttle drove us to Guatemala City and from there we took a night bus (not a Chickenbus) towards Flores, Peténour next destination…

 

//Olivia

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