It’s already been a little over a year since I made the move from the US to Guatemala. It’s been quite the adventure in some ways, frustrating in other, and a smooth transition in many areas. Overall, I have to say it’s been a great experience!
Here are 25 lessons I’ve learned in my first year living in Antigua Guatemala:
#25 – Everything isn’t better back home. I have no idea what the Kardashians or Lindsey Lohan are up to. Nor does anyone else here bring them up.
#24 – For roughly $5 a day my child receives a vastly superior education than what she would’ve ever received in an US public school.
#23 – Just because something is cheaper here, it doesn’t mean you’re getting it at a good price.
#22 – I don’t have to keep up with the Joneses. Or the Martinezes. Few people here can afford to anyway.
#21 – The US medical system is ripping you off big time. As is the pharmaceutical industry.
#20 – Corn tortillas are not that bad. Just give them another chance.
#19 – Don’t trust a Realtor to help you get into a ready-to-move-in house or apartment. Make sure EVERYTHING works before receiving your house keys and waving the Realtor goodbye.
#18 – Police here are not out to “get you.” Heck, they may even be polite and give you directions if you ask!
#17 – Is Guatemala dangerous? Well, they haven’t had any mass shootings or stabbings at any schools, sporting events, movie theaters, or universities lately.
#16 – Unleaded gas here sucks. Always get Premium gas.
#15 – Paying over $10 dollars to see a movie is insane.
I will never pay over $1.00 for a movie DVD if I can help it.
#14 – Don’t ever lock yourself outside your home or car on a Sunday. Nobody works on Sunday, if they can help it. As it should be.
#13 – Eating vegetables and fruits here is actually cheaper than eating at McDonald’s, not the other way around.
#12 – Always change the locks when you move into a house, unless you want the owners or their relatives to drop in when you’re not home.
#11 – Don’t buy your ceviche (seafood cocktail) just anywhere, specially from that street vendor selling it in little plastic cups for Q5. Unless you’d like to cleanse your digestive system fire-hose style.
#10 – There are places in the world with perfect weather year-round.
Antigua is one of them. Remember this when the weather is below zero and you’re shoveling snow away from your driveway.
Your move, hotshot.
#9 – “Chicken buses” will rarely, if ever, have any chickens in them. They will often have clowns, though.
#8 – Always bargain prices. You’re expected to. Except at restaurants. It won’t work, trust me.
#7 – Carne asada is not the same as steak. Not by a mile. But it’s still dang tasty.
#6 – The quality of clothing and shoes in the US, even at Wal-Mart, is vastly superior to Guatemala’s. Just because the label says “American Eagle”, it doesn’t make it so.
#5 – Lava-spewing volcanoes are just part of the landscape. Enjoy the fireworks and have a travel bag ready at all times.
#4 – Pedestrians do not have the right-of-way. Cross the street leisurely at your own risk.
#3 – It’s OK to say “Buenos dias” (good morning) to total strangers on the street.
They won’t think you’re a psychopath or a mugger. They will even smile and greet back!
#2 – No one ever wears gloves when preparing or handling your food. And yet, I haven’t died. I got over it.
And the #1 Lesson I’ve Learned While Living in Antigua Guatemala?
Arguing over politics or politicians is a waste of time.
Just kick back and enjoy a cold beer. Or a naranjada, if that’s your thing.