Guatemala Part 1 | Antigua, New Friends and Yalu

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Santa Catalina Arch

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, then you are probably aware that I recently just got back from an incredible trip to Guatemala. I volunteered through IVHQ, a New Zealand based company, with their animal care program. If you’ve been considering volunteering then definitely check IVHQ out as they have affordable rates, offer a bunch of different volunteer programs across the world and offer 24/7 support before and during your trip.

I knew I wanted to do something with animals and Guatemala offered a 1 week animal care program. Plus, flights were not too pricey, so my mind was easily made. A lot of people recommended 2 weeks, but I was scared of committing to that long in case I ended up hating it (which I of course didn’t). In a few short, but chaotic weeks, my flight was booked, 5 vaccinations were now coursing through my body (thank goodness for my mum’s drug plan), my suitcase was packed and before I knew it I was sitting on a plane headed to Guatemala City.

I stayed in a volunteer house in Antigua. Antigua is a beautiful, colourful city and a great place to experience Guatemalan culture. The whole city is paved in cobblestone (a lot of it uneven, so bring good shoes) and oozes Spanish Baroque.

Side note: Any picture throughout my Guatemala posts marked with ‘**’ is not mine, but my lovely friend Andrea’s.

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Central Park. Located in the heart of Antigua, if you ever get lost (may have happened to me), this is a great place to go to.

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Ruins of El Carmen Church

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La Merced Church

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This guy is carrying quite the BIRDen on his shoulders.

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Catedral de San José

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View of Central Park from Catedral de San José.

Though I went inside both of these churches, I didn’t take any pictures of the inside. It didn’t say anywhere that I couldn’t, but it just seemed disrespectful to the locals seated inside. They were both beautiful, but I found the life size religious statues inside incredibly creepy.

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The beautiful garden in Maximo Nivel, so serene.

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Volcán de Agua

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Headed to placement. Volcán de Agua sans overcast.

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Volcán de Fuego letting off some steam.

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What do you do when your friend can’t find the travel company? Get a street beer. Solves everything.

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Monday night a bunch of us went out for drinks at Café No Sé. I absolutely loved it here. It was dark, old and had candles lit everywhere. It felt like The Leaky Cauldron from Harry Potter. I went with Gallo which is what I stuck with for most of my trip. It is Guatemala’s main beer, easy to drink and inexpensive.

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L to R – Myself, Matt, Andrea, Val, Elena, don’t remember her name, but she’s not even looking at the camera anyways, Imane and Megha! **

This guy watched us from the corner. I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve seen similar ones in some gift shops. I have no idea why you would purchase one to have as it’s clearly terrifying.

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**

Wednesday after placement, some of us went to the Yalu Coffee Plantation. I didn’t really have much interest in it, as I’m not a big coffee drinker. However, I’m so happy I went, as it was so much fun! The drive there really allowed you to see how some of these people live and the plantation itself was so lovely; huge and spacious surrounded by forest.

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Andrea, myself, Imane, Megha and Emily getting ready to zip line through the forest. **

After zip lining through the forest (which had the most insane view), we went horseback riding around the plantation and then fed the baby cows (!!!).

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Feed us humans.

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We finished the day by getting a history of the plantation, then roasted, dehusked, ground and brewed our own coffee.

That night we went to Rainbow Cafe for food and drinks and for open mic night. I feel like I should mention that morning I just had strawberries for breakfast, got off at the wrong stop coming back from Animal AWARE, which resulted in missing lunch at the house, and having to go straight to Yalu in my grubby clothes from placement. This is also why the quality of the Yalu pics are not the greatest as I didn’t have time to grab my camera from the house so I had to settle for my iPhone’s camera. Anyways, long story short I was absolutely starved so you better believe I devoured my plate.

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Rainbow Cafe had such a chill vibe. Dim lights set the mood and the walls were all hand painted with lush scenery. Plus, everyone that went up for open mic was so good.

Anyways, this post is getting way too long. I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of my trip to Guatemala. Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow where I take you through my placement and time at Animal AWARE.

ellerow.

 

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