Waking up in Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua Travel Blog

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The cobblestone streets of Antigua, the Volcano "Fuego" in the distance.
Day Two, Saturday.

I woke up for no particular reason except that I had enough

sleep, I think. It wasn't the mortars like the night before or

the birds chirping or anything especially noteworthy.

After laying around in bed for awhile I decided on a plan of

action. First shower and take care of any bathroom duties. Next,

breakfast myself, as they say in Spanish. Then either look for a

Spanish school with a family to live with, or a new hotel.

After a quick aunt around the block, I discovered that the

little cafe in front of my hotel room was as good as any other in

the immediate area for the coffee and bread I required. I

stopped briefly at a small tienda to purchase a notebook to help

me organize myself. I seem to be having trouble remembering

names and addresses and stuff. I took my little notebook to a

table at the a fore mentioned eatery and ordered the "plato

tipico deseyuno" the typical breakfast; scrambled eggs, real

salty refried black beans, a slice of cheese and some creme. It

also came with coffee and bread, what I wanted in the first

place. The bill came to $2.00 including tip. just my price


As I ate, I made a list in my newly acquired notebook of the

Spanish schools recommended by the three guide books I brought

along. The list was not huge, only 5 or 6 places and after

breakfast I set off to the office of "Alanza Linguistica Cano."

The man there was very nice and went through the course with me

and the prices and then told me they were having a promotion with

reduced prices. $90.00 per week would get me 20 hours of Spanish

and room and board with a family. They had a choice of 8 a.m to

noon or 1:30 p.mm to 5:30 p.m. Next we walked the few blocks to

the school itself. It was nice enough. Not the beautiful garden

that my previous school was but not too bad for half the price.

I thanked "Hugo" and then ventured out to see another school. The

"Sevilla Academia de Espanol" was the next stop on the tour.

They did not have a separate office. I got to see the school

and the office all at one time. The woman there was also nice

but the program was pricy. $115.00 for the basic four hour

program. And it was stretched out over 6 1/2 hours beginning at

8:00 a.m. A half hour break in the morning and a two hour break

for lunch seemed excessive.

I decided to go with the first school and take both the morning

and afternoon classes, and get 8 hours of instruction per day.

That should keep me busy. But first, I wanted to go to

Conexion, the place that would allow me to keep in touch with the

real dog-eat-dog world of North America. For $4.00, I could send

a page (or maybe more) of E-mail to anyone in america with an E-mail address. And I just happened to have a few of those very

addresses with me. I whipped out a page long message documenting

my arrival in the land of eternal spring in about a half hour or

so. After that, it was time to seal the deal with the school guy,


Hugo was in his office again, just like when I first met him. I

told him of my plan to take both morning and afternoon sessions

with him and he told me I could arrange to stay with the family

that very night. Wonderful. Now I didn't have to pay for

another night in a hotel. Not that the hotel is that expensive,

but 66 quetzales will buy 16 beers in the market. Hugo said he

had to make arrangements for a family and I could return at 4:00

in the afternoon to meet them. I decided to wait until 5:30 so I

could have enough time to watch a 3:00 movie. I asked if I could

store my luggage in the office until then. "No problem" he said.

Dragging by huge foot locker to the office was a bit of a hassle

but after two trips, I was moved out of my hotel.

Now I had some time to kill before the movie started and lunch

was the perfect opportunity to do just that. I stopped in "The

Colombian" panaderia, really just a bread and cookie store but I remembered

that it had really good coffee, although it was about 80 degrees

outside and I was in no mood for hot coffee. I just had a wheat

roll and a cookie and a can of Gallo, Guatemalan beer. just the

ticket. Less than a dollar. Next I headed for the Parque

Central, and watched as a musician made some music-like noise on

a set of drums he constructed from coffee cans, assisted by an

eager young hippie-gringo. I read from my book and at 10 minutes

to 3:00, I ventured to the Cinemaya. I was the only cjustomer at

the afternoon showing of "Reality bites." I probably should

have done like all of the others and stayed outdoors in the great

sunshine and perfect weather, but the movie was fine too.

No sooner did the credits start to roll and I looked at my watch

to see what time it was, did the proprietor open the door and

flick on the lights. I thought that maybe he wasn't really too

happy to show his video to only one paying cjustomer, Oh well, I

had a family to meet.

I arrived half an hour early at the office of the school. Mary

(Maria) Cano said the family wasn't expecting me for another 30

minutes so I decided to stroll around the market across the

street. I bumped into the young fellow who rented the room to me

the night before, I think his name is Mier. We made some

insignificant chit chat, me in barely passable Spanish and he in

much broken , He was eager to practice with me. I asked

him about his wage. For 140 quetzals a month, he would arrive at

the hotel at 6:00 p.m. and watch the desk. At 10:30 he would be

allowed to sleep if all of the guests were in, if not he had to

stay up and unlock the door for them. He told me that because it

was a festival night (night of the burning of the devil) many

guests came in late, one at 3:30 in the morning. He didn't get

much sleep that night. Then at 5:00 a.m. he woke to help clean
and he leaves around 11:00 a.m and takes a bus home, to a city

about 45 minutes away. Then he returns the next day to start

again. All of this for $77.58 per month! He is probably happy to

get it.

At 5:30 the man from the family showed up. Mary told me he had

come early too, but she had already told me to return so she told

Alfredo to return also. Alfredo looked a little older than me

and when I inquired about his family, he said that he lived

with his mother and father. The rest of his brothers and sisters

had married and moved out. I hired a cab to take us home because

I had so much luggage. It cost only Q10, less than $2.00.

Sitting in a comfortable looking chair in the living room

watching television was the Padre of the house, Marko Antonio. I

introduced myself and shook his hand, and I could be wrong, but

was he drunk? Rosa Maria then said hello and introduced herself

as Alfredo's sister. I thought that all of the other siblings

had left the nest, and where was the mother? It turns out that

the mother was off visiting fiends and would return to fix dinner

around seven or seven-thirty. Rosa Maria was indeed married and

lived only three doors north with her family. I spent the next

two hours unpacking and laying around. I tried to ask Mark

Antoniono if there was a towel I could use because I wanted to

have a run and a shower afterward, and after a story about some

concept I still am unsure of, he told me "no, there was no towel

for me."

I changed in to running attire, and headed out the door. I soon

found it impossible to run at night. The street is trouble

enough during daylight, but impossible at night. I decided

just to walk towards town to buy a towel. It really wasn't as

far as I thought and soon I found myself a store buying a very

nice big terry cloth beach towel. Only Q45, $7.41. One of the

most expensive towels I think I have ever purchased, but I needed

one and the store was closing. I came back to the casa and

didn't even shower. I didn't need to, walking to town, I didn't

work up even the slightest sweat. The Senora had returned by

then and she was very nice. She gave me a tomale and bread and

made me some tea. One of her daughters with two granddaughters

stopped by and said hello and I spent the remainder of the

evening writing and reading and going to bed around 9:30.

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The cobblestone streets of Antigua…
The cobblestone streets of Antigu…
photo by: monky