Due to unforeseen circumstances, we stayed in Antigua for over a month. It has to be said that there could be worse places to be grounded. Here’s what it was like to spend the festive season living like locals in Antigua, Guatemala.
Tough Times in Guatemala’s Most Beautiful City
Much as we liked Antigua, the five weeks that we spent there weren’t always easy. T was in a lot of pain from the injury to her wrist which had happened when she had fallen on a hike at Semuc Champey. Her wrist was severely bruised and we knew that it was probably fractured. However, we were reluctant to go to the local hospital as it had a terrible reputation.
We had two other options. We could go to one of the hospitals in Guatemala City (which we also weren’t keen to do). Alternatively, we could return to the UK for treatment (we were reluctant to return home early!) Sue, the American woman who we were housesitting for, suggested an English-speaking doctor who treated ex-pats in Antigua. Although we contacted him, he unfortunately wasn’t working due to it being the festive season. He did, however, suggest a clinic in town.
Performing simple tasks, such as tying her shoelaces or brushing her hair was difficult for T due to the pain that she was experiencing. Additionally, she had also developed a bad back and a cold. There were certainly some low points when the light at the end of the tunnel looked decidedly distant!
Cheese and Chocolate on Christmas Day
Christmas Day was very low-key, but we had booked a few days at the excellent Hotel lo de Bernal, prior to starting our housesit. Extremely comfortable, the staff were lovely and we even had a sun terrace of our own. On Christmas Day, we binged on cheese, biscuits and chocolate while we watched The Gilmore Girls on Netflix.
A Trip to the Doctor!
As soon as Christmas was over, we went to the clinic hoping to be offered an x-ray. Doctor Alverez, (who spoke very little English) felt T’s wrist, referred to a large dusty book, and declared that the wrist was infected! He prescribed some sort of cream which T used as directed. However, we both knew that her wrist wasn’t infected, but had fractured. It did slowly heal, but we had to cancel our plans to go take a trip to Copan in Honduras so that she could convalesce in Antigua.
Hotels and Housesitting
During the five weeks we spent in Antigua, the city began to feel like home. While we were in town, we stayed in a variety of accommodation, including three hotels, a guest house and two separate housesits in the same apartment where we cared for three cats, Spot, Paris and Smiley.
Celebrations in Antigua
Antigua is a pretty colonial city with cobbled streets, several old ruins and a leafy plaza. Because we were there during the festive season, we also experienced an abundance of street processions and exploding firecrackers. On the weekend we arrived, Antigua won an important soccer match, which brought revellers out in their droves to celebrate.
Volcanoes and Earth Tremors
The nearby volcano puffed away, sending plumes of smoke into the blue sky on a daily basis. We had a couple of earth tremors while we were there, the second of which we felt while watching TV at our housesit and was 5.3 magnitude. The epicentre was in La Gomera, Escuintla.
We enjoyed checking out the local restaurants and Antigua certainly had an excellent choice. Fridas, a lovely Mexican cantina with a welcoming owner, was the winner for us. The shrimp tacos were divine and the cocktails weren’t bad either!
Fond Memories of Antigua
While we were housesitting, we self-catered and paid frequent visits to the best bakery in town, in addition to the well-stocked super-mercado. Antigua was a great place to slow down the pace after a couple of months of intense travel. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, we will always have fond memories of our time there. We were, however, very excited about our next destination – Costa Rica!
(We have now been members of TrustedHousesitters since 2012 and found numerous housesits via the website, many of which we have returned to many times for repeat sits. TrustedHousesitters is an international housesitting website with new sits advertised daily. Most of the housesits are in the United Kingdom, USA, Canada Europe, Australia and New Zealand, although others are available. For example when we were travelling in Central America, we were lucky enough to secure a housesit in Antigua, Guatemala. Housesitting has totally revolutionised our lives and we have loved meeting so many new people and their lovely pets).
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