Well…I’ve been in Antigua now for one month living “on my own.” I’ve got to say that the month has been “different”…not bad…not great…but just different. So for this months blog…I’m just going to highlight some of the things that I’ve noticed in the month I’ve been here.
I love my apartment…let me just get that out of the way. However…there are some nuances that make it different.
- The downstairs bathroom requires me to walk down under a staircase. The ceiling height is only about 5’5″…so I have to crouch a lot.
- The kitchen has only 2 burners on the stove, so I have to really think through what I’m going to cook. One pot meals rock!
- Mirrors. All the mirrors in the house are set at about 5’0″… hence, more crouching.
- Spare bedroom. The windows are sliding windows. Nothing is square, so there are gaps through the windows I can stick my fingers through to the outside.
- Bathroom. The shower is awesome, but water runs all around the tub and leaks on to the floor. The maintenance man tried to fix that by putting a lump of silicone caulk at one end…needless to say…it’s something that needs some attention.
- Laundry. There is no washer or dryer, so I run my clothes down to a hostel down the road. They do a great job and it costs about $0.65 per pound.
- Noise. OMG! It’s noisy here! I’m on a road that leads into Antigua from the south. The weekends are non-stop traffic and with my window situation…I sleep with earplugs. There is also a B & B next door to my place. Every morning at 6:30am a van pulls up and honks the horn to pick up people to take to the airport or wherever. He doesn’t just honk once or twice either! Finally, my place seems like a meeting place for the locals. They love to congregate and talk at all hours of the day and especially night.
- Access. The good thing is, my place is secure with cameras and a locked fence that I must enter to park my car. The bad part is, I have to get out and unlock the gate, get back in my car, pull in, get out of my car, lock the gate, get in my car and park and then get out of my car and go into my apartment. I look at it as my cardio workout for the day!
- Beautiful. Antigua is a beautiful colonial city. It is absolutely beautiful and a must see destination for anyone coming to Guatemala. There is a downside to that statement as well…they do. The city is filled with tourists from all over the world and during the weekends, the city comes alive with people coming from Guatemala City as well. So for the past month, I’ve chosen to stay close to home on the weekends and leave the city to the tourists.
- Cool Shopping. One of the great things about being here is the throwback to days gone by in terms of shopping. For instance, there is a guy that stops his truck in front of my house every single night and screams. I never knew what he was screaming until I finally went out to investigate. He is selling fresh baked bread…every night! Every morning there is another guy that comes around with raw milk…straight from the cow! There is another guy that comes around in a pickup truck that is loaded with vegetables. Then down the street, there is a place that places a red flag outside of their store. That red flag indicates that fresh meat is for sale. It’s wild! It takes a lot of planning and forethought…but what is available here is amazing! Carrots are as big around as the end of a baseball bat. Freaky!
- People. I love the people here. I’ve said that before, but they are the most wonderful people ever. They look at you in the eye when you pass them on the street and are quick to respond with a greeting if you extend one first. Here in Antigua, many people ignore the locals and I find that horrible, so when I engage them…they light up and I’ve gained an instant friend!
- Surrounding villages. I’ve ventured outside of Antigua and am amazed at the need so close to this international city. My favorite village so far is called Santa Maria de Jesus. It’s located just south of Antigua and sits way above Antigua and at the base of the volcano Agua. The streets are narrow and cars in the village are few. The streets are filled with people, horses and donkeys carrying everything from sugar cane to firewood. It’s amazing and it reminds me of what the area must have looked like 100 years ago. I’ll be spending some time here!
- Social. I’ve met some great people over the past month. Some are retired expats that have come to Guatemala to spend their retirement. Some of the people I’ve met are international 20 or 30 somethings that are traveling the world without a plan or a care in the world. I’ve also met some people that are doing great things in and around Antigua. We share our love for people and our desire to help where needed. I’m hopeful that these are the seeds that will take root. Believe me…this is fertile ground!
- Day to Day. I rarely drive here unless I’m going out into other cities or villages. So if I’m going to stay in Antigua, I walk. That has been a great form of exercise. Cobblestone streets and sidewalks that are anything but ADA compliant abound! I usually walk about 3 to 5 miles each day. I plan my day of meetings and to do lists and load up my backpack with everything I might need for the day…then head out. I return home around dusk with a backpack full of either groceries or supplies or a computer full of notes, contacts and follow ups.
All in all…I have to say that I love it here. I’ve changed…and I know it. I’m much more tolerant and much more patient than I ever have been. Guatemala has been good for me.
The first month of being on my own has been a wonderful time for me to settle and to listen to what God might have in store for me. It’s not totally clear…and I don’t expect it to be…I just know that I’m where I’m supposed to be…doing what I’m supposed to be doing…and that is good enough for me.