We’ve been on accidental hiatus this summer. You know, the kind of hiatus where you don’t plan to stop posting on the blog, but then one afternoon you discover that you’re totally unmotivated to write anything and, “oh look, the entire run of Veronica Mars episodes is available for streaming on Amazon Prime,” and then suddenly there is just a week left in your two month residency. We’ve been living in Antigua, Guatemala for the summer. After 6 months back in the US, we came here to get away from the hustle and bustle of the world. A retreat of sorts. Antigua is the perfect place to do that. To slow down. To soak it all in. To get to know a place and its people a bit better. To be still and listen.
Antigua is a small colonial town. It’s the old capital of Guatemala, but was destroyed in an earthquake in 1773. So they moved the capital to what is now Guatemala City and this town was kind of forgotten/neglected for many years. But it is a gem, with its beautiful colonial architecture and friendly people, and couldn’t be ignored forever. These days, Antigua is a traveler mecca. One of the most popular places to learn and study Spanish, very popular with expats and backpackers, and a popular jumping off point for volunteer and missionary work throughout Central America. It’s lovely here. They call it the City of Eternal Spring because it is always in the 70s, with beautiful high altitude light (we’re at 5,000 feet), and surrounded by lush volcanoes (some of them still active). It’s also a popular weekend destination for people who live in Guatemala City. So we get to have the best of both worlds. Sleepy little locals’ town during the week and then fiesta fiesta fiesta every weekend.
We’ve spent our summer living in an old hacienda two blocks from the main square and dedicated most of our time to just being. People always talk about the fear of missing out. But we’ve always approached our slow travel time differently. In these times, we are all about the joy of missing out. Of taking the time to just be. To take leisurely walks about town. Spend the entire morning wandering in the mercado. Just sit on a bench in the park and watch the kids play and the teenagers breakdance. Or practice our Spanish by chatting with a grandmother about her village. We’ve spent hours and days and months sitting in our garden reading actual books. Countless rainy afternoons editing photos, writing stories, drafting out ideas, dreaming and planning. We’ve taken long walks, and eaten good food, and had long conversations, both mundane and deep. We’ve been to parades, and concerts in the street, and church services. We’ve eaten chuchitos on the steps of church ruins, and steaming bowls of rich Pepian in the back room of a little tienda just around the corner. We’ve closed the thick shutters of our hacienda and taken long afternoon naps. There is something to be said for pressing pause every so often. And our time in this place has been restorative on many different levels. It’s also been fun.
We were exhausted when we got here and in need of a break. And Antigua has given us that. But it has given us so much more. It’s been an interesting summer to be here. Lots of political changes in the air. Along with all the typical parades and fiestas, there have been big protests and calls for changes to the highest levels of the government. Three weeks ago there were nationwide protests, as people from every walk of life came together to stand against corruption and demand justice for Guatemala. The country literally shut down for a day and everyone took to the streets to walk and stand as one. A week later, the president resigned and was arrested on corruption charges. The winds of change are blowing in Guatemala.
And the winds of change are blowing for us as well. We came into this summer hoping to come out with a better sense of where we wanted to go from here. Whether or not it was time to settle down a bit. If so, how? And where? What do we want our life to look like? We’ve been looking for home, and a sense of community, for a while now. We just weren’t sure where that was or how we might go about finding it. This summer, the universe dropped some of those answers in our lap, dangled opportunities we had not even dreamed about, and dared us to reach out and grab them. Nothing was what we expected. And yet, they could not be any more perfect. So we seized our moment. Our life is about to change. Stay tuned, because this ride is about to get even more crazy.
But first, some favorite moments from the summer.