Day 2 (1/7/11)–Salem
Today we got up and ate breakfast (eggs mixed with ham, tomatoes, and onions with black beans on the side), and asked our host mom if she could show us where to get cell phones. We got ready, and before we went out, she showed us the view of Antigua from our roof. She showed us all of the cultural and historical stuff we could see (which Loren loved). Then we walked to a cell phone store. We didn’t have enough money to buy two, and they didn’t take credit cards, so Loren had to walk back to the house to get more money. How did he find it? By noticing a puddle in front of the door. In Antigua there aren’t spaces between houses like in the US. The whole street has a big wall with doors in it. Behind the door is open air, and then the house, and everything looks very similar. But now we have phones! We also found internet (obviously… we posted a quick blog and emailed our parents). Paulina (host mom) showed us the first church built in Guatemala by conquistadores in the 1500s and we will most likely be going back and taking some pictures. Then Cesar (cab driver) picked us up and showed me where the school is. It’s not far at all and he told me where to get a bus and where to get off.
We came home and ate lunch (spaghetti and cantaloupe juice) and watched some telenovelas. Then we decided to brave the chicken bus to Antigua. We are about five minutes from the actual city of Antigua and to get there you can call a taxi (expensive), walk (30 minutes), or take one of these “chicken buses.” I’m pretty sure they’re called that because that’s how you feel when you’re inside them. The buses look like school buses, but they’re colorful and kind of look like they belong in the circus. They have a maximum capacity written on the front window, but the drivers want money, so people squish into them… as many as they can fit. There were people sitting five to a seat on one of them. There is a driver and then another guy who stands in the open door of the moving bus and yells the destination to try to get customers. There are about ten stops on the way and this guy jumps off while the bus is still moving, yells the destination, and then jumps back on as the bus pulls away. Near the end, this guy collects the money (2.50 quetzals… less than 50 cents). You can get off at any stop, but to signal you want to get off, you have to stand up before the bus stops. You have to get out fast, because the driver wants to start his round again. They actually aren’t that bad, but they were really intimidating the first time we got on one, especially because we were the first ones on the bus. Pictures of the crazy buses to come later.
We got out at the Antigua bus station and found the mercado (market) that is HUGE! My mom told me about it and said she read it’s easy to get lost. I can definitely see that happening. There are hundreds of little stalls where people sell things. Luckily Loren has some sense of direction, because everything was starting to look the same to me. I can’t wait to go back when I have money because there were things I really liked and things I know some of you would love! We also found the park, which is right in the center of Antigua. There were tons of people there and we heard a lot of English (there’s not so much English in Ciudad Vieja except for the tour we saw this morning). We saw the arch which you’ll see in a lot of pictures of Antigua. We didn’t do much and we only stayed for about an hour and a half, but now we have an idea of where to go tomorrow. Today we just explored.
We came home and met Paulina’s son Gustavo, who was watching Two and a Half Men (he went to Colegio Boston – my school, so he’s bilingual) and we had dinner (carrot soup and empanada-like things). Now we’re hanging out getting ready to watch a movie.
Tomorrow we’re going to meet my teacher in a café in Antigua. I’m so excited to meet her and talk about school. I’m hoping we get to go to the school and I can see what it looks like, because I don’t want to get lost on Monday! We also need to start an apartment search for somewhere that would has internet!