I still have a handful of posts to write about my adventures over the past month, but I felt like I had to write this first. I have decided to move to Antigua.
Considering that I haven’t even written about making it to Guatemala yet I’m sure this comes as a bit of a surprise, but once I get to those posts it’ll become apparent how quickly I fell in love with this town.
From the moment I set foot in Antigua I knew it was different. There’s a charm that captures you immediately, and a small town familiarity that keeps its hold on you. The cobblestone streets, the colorful low-rise buildings, the perfectly manicured Parque Central, the abundance of cafes, restaurants, bars, and boutique shops, offering something for every taste, the bustling local market for all your needs, the tuktuks and vividly repainted old school buses, the scenery, with three volcanoes visible from the town including the incredibly active Fuego shooting lava into the sky, the nightlife, the people – Antigua has it all.
It helped that I was introduced to the local’s Antigua through Brayan and Ale. I quickly knew people and favorite spots; I never felt like a tourist. Everyone welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like I had a new family here. They are a huge part of the reason that I stayed.
The other part is the magic of Antigua. It has a way of making it impossible to leave. Any time I questioned whether I would really stay here this town offered up something that made my concern disappear. A spontaneous overnight at Hobbitenango with friends ended with talk of finding a home together – something that became a reality just two days ago when we moved in together. A stop by a bar for a happy hour beer turned into a possible job opportunity (more than once). A drive down a mountain road led to rescuing and caring for two puppies.
I left town for almost a week to try to wrap my head around what to do. When I started the journey back to Antigua I thought I had a plan for how I would proceed – there was one condition under which I would stay and if it didn’t work out then I would move on. Then I returned and felt like I’d come back to an old friend. There was a big event in town – the burning of the devil, a strange Christmas tradition – and that night I ran into so many people who asked where I’d been and welcomed be back that I realized I already had a life here. I stopped thinking about logistics, got out of my head, and it all became clear.
I never really thought about leaving Antigua. From the day I got here I thought about staying. Suddenly the rest of my trip seemed less exciting than what a life here could be like. I had craved stopping but misleadingly focused my attention on Vienna. Everything I wanted there I already had here. And for the first time in my travels, I was in the proper mindset to actually stop and see what it would be like to live in a place that captured me like this. It may sound unexpected that I have ditched the plan to go all the way to Colombia but it also may not. This was always possible, that I would find somewhere that made me never want to leave.
So I decided to go for it. I have moved into a house and am working on finding a job. I can actually say that my travels have stopped (for now) and that I have a home. I live in Antigua, Guatemala.
Now it’s time to work on my Spanish.