6th August - 15th August 2009
Antigua is such a gorgeous city with some great old buildings and colourful houses. It's also surrounded by three volcanoes so it makes for quite a picturesque and touristy town which we loved. We spent our first afternoon there at a bar talking to some lovely Guatemalans. After realising in Guatemala City that we'd need some Spanish skills to survive the trip and also to give ourselves a bit of a challenge we decided to get our brains working and enrolled in Spanish School. We also delved in and stayed with a local family who were really great. We stayed with a lady called Veronica who was actually the secretary at the school and her daughter, also called Veronica. They had two houses and we stayed in the one that they used for home stay only and had the whole place to ourselves for the week. It was only 60USD each and included 7 nights' accommodation and 3 meals a day. The food was delicious and it was fun trying to practice our Spanish with them even if we were really bad.
We spent 5 days at school from 8am - 12pm and by the end of the week our brains were fried. Our teacher, Alvaro, was really nice and a great teacher but we didn't pick it up as quickly as we thought we might. We need to do a lot more practice if we want to be able to converse properly by the end of our trip.
One afternoon we went with the school to 'Cross Hill' a great lookout above the town with a huge cross. It made for some nice photo opportunities even though the volcano in the background was clouded over. It was actually kind of strange as we were taken up there by the tourist police as they say it can be dangerous to go on your own.
We did our first Guatemalan tour to Pacaya Volcano and it was simply stunning. We walked an hour and a half up there and got an amazing view from the top. It was like we were in the sky and it was such a beautiful sky at that. We got so many great photos and topped it off by roasting marshmallows in the hot hot lava. Definitely not something you get to do every day. Sammy particular enjoyed 'Volcano surfing' on the way down which involved running down the volcano as fast as he could without falling over. There were a couple of close calls for everyone but we all made it down okay. It was such a great tour and so awesome seeing the lava.
After graduating from our first week of Spanish school we decided to head to the coastal town of Monterrico which we'd heard good things about.