Hey travel lovers,
Is Guatemala on your mind? If it is, you're in for a treat with this edition of the Nigerian Travellers Series as we'll be living vicariously through Abuoma (or Aby, cuz we're super close now ;)) who will take us through this picturesque country just south of Mexico. If Guatemala isn't on your list, we bet it'll be after this read.
Hi guys, I'm Abuoma/Aby and I currently teach in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I looove traveling and engaging with cultures, but even though I’d lived in Honduras for about a year and a half, and had traveled within the country, I still hadn’t been to any other Latin American country. So one of my new year’s resolutions was to travel somewhere in Central America before the school year ended. The perfect opportunity came when my college roommate told me she’d be spending her spring break in Guatemala. She’d planned the entire trip so all I’d have to do was tag along. I looked into getting a visa and it was pretty easy, unlike some other countries (side eye at Nicaragua). So I took some time off work and bought a bus ticket to Antigua, Guatemala
In Antigua, I stayed at a hostel called Matiox which I cannot recommend enough! They had the friendliest, most helpful staff, super cool décor, and all round awesome vibes. At the hostel, I reunited with my ex-roommate, Tasha, whom I hadn’t seen in 2 years, and met the friends she was traveling with (wadup Janz and Shrish :D). Tasha had convinced us to go on a volcano hike. Now, I actually enjoy hiking, so I hadn’t really thought too much before agreeing. But that night as we prepared for the hike, I began to seriously reconsider my life choices. I already knew it would be long and that we would sleep on the volcano, but Tasha now informed me that the temperatures at the top were in the single digits, so my nice sweater and ankle socks would not be nearly enough. However, the girls were awesome and lent me all the stuff I didn’t have (basically everything lol).
The volcano-tour company we went with was called Gilmer soy, and they were the absolute GOAT! (Greatest of all time if, incase you didn't catch my meaning lol) First off, the guides are all locals, and the funds from the hike go towards improving the community. They are also environmentally conscious in how they lead the tours. The packet included lunch, dinner and breakfast for the next morning and they had free hiking backpacks and jackets, and gloves and hats you could rent for cheap. This hike was 100% the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically. The volcano we climbed is called Volcan Acatenango. At 3,976meters (13,045 feet) tall, the inclines were no joke. 15 minutes in, I was convinced I was going to die. It didn’t help that the group we went up with was mainly made up of incredibly fit Europeans with long legs basically strolling up the mountain. We all had these wooden climbing sticks except for this one Swiss lady who had her hands in her pockets the whole time. How sway?? Tasha was also bounding up the volcano and exclaiming cheerfully at various points “This is sooo fun!”
The Hiking Crew
Deceivingly happy picture of me hiking
Reason #4562509 why our guides were the best, they let me take as many stops as I needed, stayed behind with me no matter how far back I was and eventually carried my hiking backpack (I know that’s cheating, but I had 4 liter bottles in there and I was about to die and I have ZERO shame). Nearly 6 hours later, we made it to base camp and I’ve never been happier to see a tent in my life. Despite how crazy this hike was I’d honestly do it again because the view was incredibly worth it. We camped opposite an active Volcano and as we hung out and ate dinner, we watched the Volcano explode every 30mins. Yeah, no big deal. I went to bed pretty early and had the most restless sleep ever. Then we woke up at 4:30am so that we could make the 1.5-hour hike to summit to watch the sun rise. Sadly, I never made it. While summiting, I got bad altitude sickness. I couldn’t breathe and genuinely felt like I was going to die. I’m not usually a wimp but I nearly started crying. So at that point, I decided it was stupid to keep trying to go ahead in the freezing cold. I listened to my body, and went back to base camp where I tried to sleep and eventually threw up. The hike down was much easier though, and I felt so incredibly proud of myself that the fact that I was covered in grime didn’t even bother me.
Tash forcing me to take pics on the mountain
Volcan Fuego erupting
Back at the hostel, we all took long showers and then ventured out to find food/explore Antigua a little. We ate some bomb empanadas, visited the chocolate museum and walked through the town. Words can’t describe how picturesque Antigua is. The mix of quaint European architecture and Mayan culture is really cool. It was also a few weeks before Semana Santa (Holy week ), so the churches were decorating the streets with beautiful alfombras (colorful carpets made from wood chips). On getting back we chilled in the hostel hot tub (because we deserved it) with some people we’d met at the hostel and hung out for the rest of the evening.
Us - Post Hike
Me trying to be a travel blogger
Alfombras (woodchip carpets) for holy week in Antigua
The next morning, Tasha (of course) woke us all up for 7am yoga which was actually super nice. It was at a gorgeous hostel pretty close to ours and we got free smoothies with our session! We then packed up our stuff and took a 3 hour bus ride to San Pedro, a cute little town on Lake Atitlan. There, we stayed at another pretty cool hostel called Mr Mullet and met a lot of really cool people. I was only there till the next morning, but I managed to go for an old school hip hop party, eat my weight in fries and kayak on the lake for two hours. Tasha of course tried to get us to go on a sunset hike, but I let her do that one on her own. I’d had enough hiking to last me a while.
Views for days
Insta worthy pic of my first kayaking experience
On a sort of random tangent, I thought I’d share some of the thoughts I had on this trip regarding the privilege of being able to travel. I was the only person from Africa I met on that trip even though I met so many tourists. Granted, Africa is pretty far away, but it didn’t seem to stop the many Australians I met. Many of the people I met had saved enough to quit their jobs and travel the world. I couldn’t help but think of the billions of people in the world for whom that’s simply not an option. I was struck with the immense amount of privilege I had as a black woman from the global south having that experience and I wanted to use this chance to remind us about what a privilege it is to be able to explore the world. Let’s be thankful for it, and use it wisely.
Also, shout out to Tasha for being my personal photographer.