as a result of having traveled so, so much in the past four years, i have come to a point where it doesn't hit me until i have arrived...until i see it with my own eyes. i was out to dinner with my family the night before my departure and my sister asked, "are you excited? nervous? what's going through your head right now?" i answered with a shrug. from all the google image searches to the brilliant tips and endorsements from friends to the kismet-fueled securing of a cheap house in my dream destination...i felt nothing. i got to the airport, and i had to force myself not to lose my cookies when the woman who checked me in told me that i couldn't get on a plane without a return ticket back into the US. apparently, open ended traveled isn't allowed anymore.
when the eff did that happen? BULLSHIT. but i sucked it up and bought a ticket right there and then for july 31st from san jose to new york. then i got on the plane, and i felt exhausted. then i got to the airport and i felt a little annoyed (cheap shuttle bus was nowhere to be found). i got into a taxi, and a woman named jenny (an american and four year resident of guatemala) jumped in to share the cost. i had decided to spend a night in antigua, as it was an hour compared to the 4 hours it would have taken me to get to san pedro). jenny was the first of what i'm sure will be many guardian angels.
we pulled out of the airport and it was like someone peeled a layer of muck off of my being. by the time i arrived in antigua, i was literally bouncing up and down on the seat like a four year old.
and when we pulled into the first cobblestone street lined with quaint, colorful abodes with tropical flora wound around wrought iron window gates...majestic churches set against the backdrop of a smoldering volcano...well, it was that volcano had erupted inside of me...but instead of lava it shot out sunshine.
got settled in at the ridiculously nice Hostel Five ($9/night with private bathroom and TV w. HBO), went to explore, which i did with a shit-eating grin. after perusing some menus (the first of which boasted kimchi as the first menu item, and the second of which was a bagel store????), i found a lovely little garden cafe and tore into some unreal tacos al pastor with avocado and salsa verde. by 5:30, i knew a nap was necessary, but it was hard to pull myself from that perfect play of late afternoon sunlight on the rich colors of the city.
..but i was about to fall on my face, so i headed in, set my alarm for 7:30. when i finally stirred from my deep, deep slumber, it was 10pm. whoops. got ready to go have a cocktail and left the hostel to find myself on a very dark, very empty street. as brave as i am in some ways, i am also a chickenshit - especially before i have my bearings on. so after a block and a half of cringing in the shadows, i did a 180 and returned to my room to watch a horror movie (genius), pop half a valium (thanks mom) and get a solid nights sleep.
am now refreshed, inspired, and ready for whatever comes my way. gonna ogle la bonita ciudad para un hora mas (yes, i desperately need to start my spanish classes ASAP), and then get on the bus to my anti-barbie dream house.