Our three months in New Zealand whizzed by and is now a happy memory of wonderful times spent with family and good friends. We caught up with three of our five children and spent precious time with the gorgeous grandchildren….Harry and Edie……wonderful.
We had 10 days in Marlborough tidying up the gardens at home and doing all those zillions of jobs that never go away. We also saw lots of our friends….which was just fantastic. From Auckland we drove up to Russell and had a magical weekend with sailing friends Ross and Jo Blackman who we met in Turkey. All too soon we were flying to Los Angeles where we had two nights before our early morning flight to Guatemala City where Maria was waiting.
Maria, a Guatemalan, was once married to David’s cousin and lived in New Zealand for six years. She now lives in the foothills above Guatemala City in an amazing house. Thanks to her exquisite taste the house is beautifully furnished with some NZ kauri and rimu furniture to make us feel right at home.
After a few days enjoying Maria’s wonderful home and hospitality, she drove us to Antigua for us to start language school.
Antigua is about an hour west of Guatemala City and surrounded by three volcanoes – one of which, El Fuego, has been in the news lately. It’s still erupting but just blowing a bit of smoke and ash, no lava.
The volcanoes make an impressive sight towering over the city and make getting around easy – they are great landmarks.
Antigua is beautiful…..cobbled streets, pastel coloured buildings, women in traditional dress and intriguing shops.
Total immersion is what this experience is all about so we opted to have Spanish lessons for four hours each day and live with a local family. We didn’t last long at the homestay – there simply wasn’t the interaction we hoped for but more importantly there was no hot water!! We’re now at a great hostal with heaps of solar heated water, free wifi and a great breakfast. It’s fantastic meeting loads of other travellers and Spanish students….although most are half our age!
Classes start at 8am each day and are held in a garden on the outskirts of Antigua or in the classroom. Our teacher Gabby is fantastic….she only speaks to us in Spanish although will throw us a bone if we’re really stuck…..which happens quite a lot.
We walk to and from the garden with Gabby and speak solely in Spanish. It is a massive learning curve and at times we feel like we are really floundering….but it is fun….and good for the brain.
We are heading for the hills on Wednesday – a chance to put into practice some of what we have learned and explore the gorgeous villages around Lago Atitlan. We can’t wait!