When arriving in a new country, I need to find out a couple things until I can really enjoy a place. Here a list of these things:
- Getting familiar with the currency
- How to order a meal or a drink in a restaurant
- Getting to know the street layout and the geographic situation
- Find out where to buy things I may need
- How to use the public transportation or taxis
- Where WiFi is available
So, day one after arriving is perfect to tick off a few of those things.
I slept well, and woke up quite early in the morning, which gave me some time to listen to the morning sounds of Antigua. Birds and poultry waking up, somebody practicing a horn, dogs barking… Quite different. Before breakfast, we went on the roof of the house, and got our first glimpse of Antigua Guatemala and the three volcanoes surrounding the city. It is a beautiful day. After breakfast, we walked the first time to the Spanish school, where we were shown around the school building by the director of the school, just the three of us.
The main part of the day was a walking tour through Antigua. In Spanish of course. I guess this was the first class we had! We were introduced to the street layout of Antigua, some good places to eat, good places to hang out, where the markets are, where we can withdraw cash and we got to see the famous sights of the city. Since I was not able get some Quetzales – the currency of Guatemala – at the airport, I wanted to take the opportunity to get me some of those. I took my travel cash card with me on that walking tour. It is a prepaid card that can be used as a debit or credit card, all over the world they say. I tried on several ATMs, but none of them spit out the money I wanted. I am sure the card is working, I’ve checked its functionality at the airport in Zurich. After the tour and some coffee, which I had to pay with my new friend’s money, we decided to go back to our new home, refill the water bottles, swap my bank card, and put on some more sun block. It was a gorgeous day, but so close to the equator the sun is strong. First thing back in town was going back to the ATMs, and now I was more successful. My ordinary bank card beat my fancy travel cash card. I have to remember that. I immediately feel more at home with some local currency. So we went for the next point on the list, having a meal. We went for a place which was recommended to us on the tour. Kind of a touristy place, but many locals as well. The food was just what we needed, nothing fancy but it gave us the energy for the afternoon. We continued our walking tour by ourselves in the afternoon, exploring Antigua some more. It is such a nice town. Colorful buildings in colonial style, cobble stone streets, nice cafes and restaurants. The atmosphere of this place lets you relax. Well, I think I was able to tick off quite a few things on the list. And I am sure that the remaining ones will be ticked off soon as well. So I’m confident that I’ll feel at home here the next 8 weeks.
Still a bit jet lagged, we went back home early, and I thought I might sit down and take some time to write this. And that’s when I discovered my new “office” for doing so. The house I’m staying in has an accessible roof, which is perfect to sit down and enjoy the atmosphere of Antigua. While I was writing, the sun went down quickly and the stars came out. And then it happened: One of the volcanoes started to erupt. It was a spectacular sight, the mountain blowing red glowing lava up into the night sky. Right there in front of my new office.