Today is here!!

I can’t believe it. I’m leaving for Guatemala. My big Central America trip begins today!!

As I stand in the dark with my backpack by my door waiting for my friends to come pick me up and take me to the airport I can’t help but be excited even though my nerves really are getting the best of me right now. This is my first really big trip alone.

LET’S BAG AND TAG!!  screenshot_20170227-161625

I arrive at the airport here in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I go to the kiosk, check-in and print my boarding pass. I then try to bag and tag my backpack for the flight. I need to check my backpack for the journey there, as I simply could not fit a month’s worth of liquid into a 1 quart bag. I don’t want any straps etc. getting torn off as it makes its way to Guatemala. I just hope it arrives in the same place as me and at the same time. I’m provided a sturdy clear bag for this job and complete the task. Fingers crossed, I hand the bag over. It passes the scale test and I make my way to security next for a little pat down and a full body scan before I head off to my gate. I try to just sit and relax while I wait for my flight but all my nervous energy does not allow that to happen. I begin to hear bits of other travellers conversations and I start to people watch to distract myself……. and next thing I know,
My flight boards

SERIOUSLY, SOCIAL MEDIA IN COSTA RICA??

costa

Eventually I land in Costa Rica. I have few hour layover here but there’s not a whole lot to see in the airport and I opt for recharging my phone, posting trip updates and checking social media while I relax. A little Facebook (Terri Travels), some Snapchat (SoloExplore), Insta and Twitter (@soloexplore). What? People want to know where I am? If Im ok?, and or it’s fun….and it kills time.
I arrive at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City around 7 p.m. I’m not really even that nervous anymore,I think as I move towards the lineup for Immigration and Customs. I wait my turn, and as I’m called forward I hand the agent my properly filled out card. I know the rules.

But he is nice and smiling as he asks about my visit before welcoming me to Guatemala. Well that was easy and pleasant. I like it here so far. Through the normal hustle and bustle of any international airport I wander off towards the picture of a suitcase, assuming it will lead me to the baggage carousel nearby.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL !?!

I find my backpack , hoist it up onto my shoulders and with confidence I walk through the airport in search of a shuttle. I’ve booked a room for the night at Hostel Villa Esthela in Antigua, and before I left home I went online to see about transportation and how much it should cost me approximately to get to Antigua. I choose a shuttle and negotiate a price with the driver for $10 USD. He takes me outside the airport to where his van is parked. He puts my bag into the back and hurries off back inside. He will try and get more customers to fill his van before he leaves. I sit outside in the van and I watch all the people coming to the airport mostly families with grandmothers, mothers and children all dressed in their traditional garb, arriving on foot to meet their husbands, their fathers,their sons. Such a family oriented culture. Just walking and as an entire family to the airport to greet their loved ones is not something that happens at home. A friend or family member may drive to the airport at home to pick me up,but highly unlikely that my entire family in formalwear and arriving by foot to greet me at the airport will ever happen. But you never know.

HE SMOKES AND HE CAN SPEAK SPANISH

My first van mate to arrive is Tom from Belgium Tom’s likes to smoke…A lot. So he stands outside the van while we wait. he’s going to spend his time waiting outside the van smoking.While he’s out there though, he starts drawing some attention from the local vendors and children who are hanging around the main entrance. so they come up and start to try and sell him their wares periodically but Tom has no money for trinkets and has to eventually shoo them away. He feels very bad. Tom lives at home with his parents in Belgium and is going to Antigua to meet some people before heading to a retreat in the mountains the next day for a holiday. The next and final passenger to arrive is Terry from Texas. He is here to visit his daughter who’s been living in Guatemala for the past couple years and…..it’s her birthday. Terry also has a place in Oaxaca, Mexico so he’s fluent in Spanish. That was so great in helping the flow of conversation in the van as our driver didn’t speak English and we all had questions lol

BARF BAGS RECOMMENDED

road

We finally leave the airport about an hour later.. there are no real schedules in Guatemala I quickly learn on this adventure of mine. The four of us head off into the night through Guatemala City. As we leave the city limits and head towards Antigua we start to really bump around on the road. It seemed to get bumpier and rougher. It was actually becoming uncomfortable. It felt like we were off-roading. This went on for awhile and I try to ask the driver about the roads but I wasn’t really getting anywhere with my broken Spanglish. So Terry helps me out and we learn that Antigua is very old like it’s name meaning, and so are the roads in and around the city. And yes they would continue to be this bumpy all the way to our destinations. Not recommended if you get carsick.Ha-ha.

GO DOWN THAT DARK ALLEY HE SAYS…

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We head into the the city of Antigua and the driver winds up and down the narrow stone roads bumpity bump. It’s dark as I peer through the windows to get my first glimpse of my first destination in Central America. I can’t see much but what I can see has me straining to see more. I’m practically vibrating as we close in on my stop. The driver finds the address of my hostel and pulls over on the side of a road, jumps out and grabs my bag. I say my goodbyes,and thank the driver.
The van skids away bumpity bump over the cobblestone streets on to the next stop. I look across the street and my hostel is that the end of a dark alley. I’m here all alone in a strange country and it’s night time. I grab my backpack, hitch it up into my shoulders and step Into the street and cross. I look down the alley into the dark. It looks okay. What do I know? I’ve never been here. I pull up my big girl panties and quickly make my way to the door at the end. Hostel Villa Estella…
I knock on the door and the night Watchman answers. He opens the door for me and says something in Spanish. I tell him my name and he nods for me to follow and leads me upstairs to my room. I have booked a private room for the night because I’m not sure how late I’m going to arrive and I don’t want to disturb any of the other guests, But also I was a little afraid that I might have to cry myself to sleep as I had no idea what kind of emotional state I would be in by the time I arrived, no joke. Secrets out! But all is well when I arrive and I’m feeling pretty good. As we climb the stairs, I notice there are no walls and that it is completely open to the outside. Cool! He opens the door to my room, I enter say goodnight and thank him. Back down to the office he goes. My room has three beds, a dresser and it’s very clean. The bed I chose is comfy and I am very tired so I quickly post a few things and settled in for the night. I close my eyes, smiling and happy I quickly drift off to sleep.

WHAT THE HECK IS OUTSIDE MY WINDOW?

guat

The next morning I woke up to the strange sounds of new birds and unfamiliar Street sounds. I kind of opened one eye and could see sunlight seeping through the bamboo blinds just a little bit, and OH MY GOD!! WHAT IS THAT!?!
I can make out the silhouette of something very big out there?
I open my eyes to try and adjust them a little bit more as I jumped from the bed. I pulled the blinds aside…. Holy Shit! it’s a volcano! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Right outside my windows, there are volcanoes, mountains and lush green jungle.I opened my door squinting in the light. it’s completely open to the outside and I could see all around me. WOW, I was so excited. I closed my door, put some clothes on and headed right back outside.
I took the steps leading to the roof top terrace. I could see the whole town below me. I could see the houses, churches, old buildings and the mountains, the volcanoes, the jungle all around…. it’s just absolutely stunning. I can hear the sounds of the city coming to life, cars in the streets and people talking. I can smell fresh bread baking nearby. I look across the tin rooftops to the volcano and say to myself. I am here! By myself in Guatemala.I did it and I’m Not scared. I don’t even remember what my worries were. All I know is I can’t wait to begin my adventure in Guatemala.

YOU WILL ENJOY YOUR STAY

rooft

The rooftop terrace at Hostel Villa Esthela has a covered picnic table area as well as hammocks to relax and enjoy the beautiful views. I took the stairs down to the second level. This floor is completely open to the outside on one whole side and on the other side has 5 rooms, one of which is mine and an 8 bed dorm. There are 2 bathrooms and one shower. There is also a nice little sitting area on this floor. Down one more flight and i was on the main level. This floor has 2 rooms, a 4 bed dorm, 2 bathrooms and 2 showers and another sitting area. Also located on the main level…a full kitchen, dining room/pantry, TV room and front Office. The Hostel offered free wifi, filtered water and assistance with tours and transportation. The owner is a amazing, a real Gem. The staff are super friendly and helpful as well. There is also a laundry located in the same alley as the hostel.
ACCOMODATIONS COST $78Q /night Priv Room $60Q /night Dorm.

2a Avenida Sur #48 Casa A-3, Antigua Guatemala

(502) 7832-5162 or 4102-4122

Chill Hostel, I really liked it.

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So with my first night Solo in Guatemala under my belt, I was ready to get out there and start Exploring!!! Make sure to check out my next blog to keep following my adventure. To see even more of my first day and the hostel

https://youtu.be/RuOGkoY2k-w

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