As I was awoken by the captain’s announcement of the beginning of our descent, I immediately took to opening the window in order to have a glance of Guatemala from the skies. As I expected, the scenery was beautiful: mountains covered in green and plentiful rooftops scattered throughout the rough terrain. The sight was familiar, and even before the plain landed, the view of the landscape was a warm welcome.
From the get-go, I felt very comfortable in our surroundings. The sound of fluent Spanish, local slangs, taxi drivers offering their services, and old vans with inefficient fuel systems that pollute the air and cause a smell that I was very familiar to me made me feel as if I was visiting Mexico – I felt as if I was right at home.
We had barely left the airport when my expectations of the town became reality. The streets were just as I imagined: poorly constructed, bouncy, loud, rustic, and narrow. There was very little overall luxury – no huge buildings or fancy cars – which is essential for a real Latin American experience. There were ‘’tienditas’’ (little convenient stores) almost on every corner – also very typical of Latin American countries. Buildings were made of stone and most of them had tall, wooden garage door entrances. The architecture of the city, its layout, still resembled colonial Spanish settlements – again, a very typical attribute of Latin America.
To Top the day off, we were treated to an exceptional meal a local, traditional café. The café itself was filled with Guatemalan hand art – sculptures, weaved creations, and paintings. It also had a library of Guatemalan authors. The meal was simple, yet delicious: we started with a sandwich of what seemed to be Guatemalan chicken salad, followed by a chicken soup, hand-made yucca french-fries, and ‘’sincronizadas’’ filled with piGco de gallo sauce, ham, guacamole, and jalapeños. (a different form of quesadillas). The meal was probably not as traditional as it could be, but it definitely beats chicken flavored Cup Noodles and Spencer Grill quesadillas with a side of frozen fries.