Our Final Weeks in Antigua

Our last couple of weeks in Antigua were filled with as much friend time as possible.  I reduced my Spanish lesson hours in hopes of seeing more of Antigua and enjoying some special activities with each of the kids.  It had been a while since we had one-on-one time and it was nice to have the opportunity. 

First up was my man, Manji.  I finished my Spanish lessons at the Eco Farm and watched the kids visit with a local reptile guru.  All the children at the Eco Farm held snakes, lizards, and even a chinchilla.  Manji had his fill of reptiles and then we set off to explore Antigua on our own.  Our first stop was a local bakery to sample some pastries. Then, we meandered through the local markets for some souvenirs.  We haggled our way around the place, purchasing two for one Guatemalan soccer jerseys and a gold ring.  We ended our morning by having lunch with James followed by charcoal ice cream at Glacy. 

Goose at the Eco Farm with Worldschool Antigua

When Bingo’s turn was up, we did all the things we used to do at home in NC.  We spent hours reading books, snuggled, and played at the playground.  We also went to the market and purchased a Guatemalan headband and then had lunch at the coolest McDonald’s ever.  The McDonald’s is massive and boasts an enormous courtyard with swings and a small amphitheater for live music.  You could easily host a beautiful wedding there!

Bingo at the Antiqua McDonalds

It was a busy morning followed by an even busier afternoon when we met our friends, the Gregorys, at Ek Chuah Chocolate for a Mayan chocolate making class.  Our instructor, Jessie, was enthusiastic about the history and process of chocolate making.  She made the experience even more fun with her chants, songs, and dances during the class! It started with the following chant: “smash the (cocoa) bean and make a paste.” This really got the kids excited to make cocoa paste, the first step after roasting the beans.  We then made our way to a long table where we tasted teas, applied cocoa lip balms, and used a mortar and pestle to smash more beans! It was a very interactive and educational experience, and we all agreed one of the best classes we’ve ever tried! We even got to bring our chocolates home to enjoy later. 

Chocolate class with the Gregorys

Before the Gregorys left, we had one more activity that we wanted to do with them, which was salsa dancing.  At Las Palmas, they have free salsa lessons every afternoon, so we brought the kids and all gave it a try.  Well, the adults, plus Bingo did! Bingo was amazing and swung her hips and really enjoyed it! We spent half an hour practicing our steps and switching dance partners with a very flamboyant instructor! With this last activity checked off our list, it was time for our friends to depart.  We were so sad to say goodbye but hope our paths cross again someday!!!

Salsa class at Las Palmas

Our final week in Antigua, James decided it was time to take a break from his Spanish lessons and join me for some fun!  We spent the week taking the kids to school, walking to town, sitting in cafes and reflecting on the incredibleness of this year, and preparing for our one final adventure of this world trip.  We also had a chance to try Pilates on the reformer at Intensity Pilates…whew! What a workout! 

We also spent one day with Goose carving our own piece jade.  Talk about an authentic experience.  We were driven from a small shop in Antigua about thirty minutes south to the owner’s private residence where he and a friend create their own jade jewelry.  The owners only spoke Spanish and were excited to have us there to experience their work.  Goose and I both worked on a piece and the process took almost four hours, from cutting to polishing and waxing.  Goose and his friends had spent a large part of their time while at the Eco Farm sanding and varnishing rocks into arrowheads.  Given that, Goose wanted to create his own jade arrowhead for his project.  He cut, sanded, and polished it and came away with a beautiful piece of jade.  He was very proud of his work!

Jade workshop with Goose

Our final week in Antigua, we all focused on as much playtime with friends as possible.  The neighborhood we spent the month in was home to the worldschool hub’s teachers, Alana and Bevan, along with their children.  We also had our friends, the Johnstons, who we had met in Malaysia in the neighborhood as well. 

Bingo with her bestie, Nae Nae

The kids spent the afternoons playing tag, swimming and making dorodangos (a Japanese art form of making a perfect spherical ball from dirt and water). 

These dorodangos ultimately caused a little bit of trouble within the neighborhood.  The kids dug a large hole in the open lot across from our house, gathered the dirt in a trash can lid and then used a sifter to thin out the soil.  I have to admit, the process and resulting dorodangos were very cool, but the neighborhood association did not find it quite as cool.  I received a message from the house’s owner that she would be fined for the mess we made if she didn’t clean it up.  The kids were extremely apologetic and offered to do the cleaning.  It was the end of the dorodangos for now, but I know our kids are going to make them as soon as we get back to NC!

Another focus of our time in Antigua was the water situation, which ended up being a joke by the end of our time.  As we knew before arriving, you can’t drink the water in Guatemala,; however, it’s fine to use for bathing and dishes.  The water in the neighborhood we lived in had a unique problem.  Every week, someone would “clean the pipes” and what would result is black sludge accumulating in the water.  It felt like this would happen several times a week while we were there. 

Ultimately, after four weeks, we figured out how to temporarily solve the problem. We would run a hose from the the water tank to our backyard for a couple hours flush to at least make the water usable. It was comical by the end, but only because we knew we were only temporary residents! We will never forget how black the water was at our house in Antiqua. And, we’ll never take it for granted when we travel to places and can simply bathe in clean water!

The kids had their last day of school at the Eco Farm as well as their last Spanish lesson.  They spent their day having an epic water balloon fight with their friends! We are so grateful to Alana and Bevan for hosting such an incredible four-week hub.  The kids made soap, paper mache masks and healing balms. They worked on the farm, feeding animals and walking the dog. They also played to their heart’s content and had the freedom to be creative.  To top it off, they also took Spanish lessons from the kindest Guatemalan ladies and learned about the rich Mayan history and culture.  The evening of their last day, all the families gathered for a farewell dinner at Tribu Terrace. 

Goodbye to our Spanish teachers at Eco Farm

Our entire year-long journey is coming to an end and this stop in Guatemala has been a precious time for us.  The kids experienced more consistency, but spent days with friends outside.  We had the chance to meet up with friends from earlier in our travels, reuniting one last time.  Goodbyes are always so hard, but especially so when those friends live on the other side of the world!

Goodbye to Israel who drove us around Guatemala for one month!

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