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Reisverslag The first blog/days of my trip - Madrid & Miami
3 juni 2014
The first blog/days of my trip - Madrid & Miami
It’s already more than three weeks ago since I left the Netherlands, so it’s really time for my first blog entry! For now I’ll put them on my old travel blog: http://www.sygrit.waarbenjij.nu but I’m working on creating my own custom travel blog, but internet is not really working well with me here ;) so everything takes a lot more time and patience haha.
10 years ago I left the Netherlands to do a High School Exchange year in the USA, 5 years ago I left the Netherlands for my internship in Aruba for 5 months, so now, 5 years later, it’s time again for a new adventure. This time, a 5 month long internship in Guatemala, Central America!
The past year I have been looking for an interesting internship, preferably abroad and in a Spanish speaking country, as part of my master program Nutrition & Health. My dream internship has always been at the WHO or another UN body related to health, but as all of those internships are in expensive countries and non-paid, I decided to look further and broaden my horizon :D. My thesis supervisor one day kind of joked and said that I could go to Guatemala, where she also did her internship some years ago, as they are always happy to have Dutch interns. At first thought, I was like ‘Guatemala, what in the world should I do there, where is it actually on the world map and what kind of country is it?’. But after doing some googling online, this option became more and more interesting. I contacted the institution (CeSSIAM) for more information about the possibilities for an internship this summer and got a rather quick reply saying that they would be really happy to have me, when I was planning on coming etc. I hadn’t even decided yet, but it seemed they had ;). I also got in touch with the former intern from the WUR, and her stories made me even more enthusiastic. After some more emails (with a lot of waiting in between ;) ) it was decided, I was going to Guatemala! With only two months left before my departure, it was time to arrange everything pretty quickly. Luckily I managed to sub-rent my apartment, got the whole list of vaccinations, (after a long-long search) found a not too-expensive and cool flight ticket, with lay-overs in Madrid, Miami and New York, and was busy with all the other preparations that come with travelling. Two weeks before my departure I finally got some more information about what I would actually be doing during my internship, and things became more real for me, as till that moment I only had the flight ticket to Guatemala and that was about all I knew about my stay in Guatemala ;).
The last weeks before my departure were pretty hectic, trying to finish my thesis, working a lot in the elderly home to make some extra money for the trip, packing up my personal stuff in my apartment, having two goodbye-parties (in Groningen and Wageningen), other goodbye-moments, and as always, last minute packing and stress!! But after a very short night (packing, cleaning, packing) I managed to get my stuff in my suitcase somehow and catch the bus to Ede-Wageningen. Off to the airport it was, where I met my mom. After a pretty smooth check-in and a final coffee it was time to say goodbye to my mom for the next couple of months. Walking through security, it finally hit me, I was not just going on a holiday, I was going to an unknown and different country, alone, for the next 5 months. Till that moment I hadn’t really realized it yet… I let a few tears, but after that I was ready to go on this adventure!
My first destination was Madrid, where I would spend 2 nights, before flying to Miami. (As the flights from Madrid where to cheapest to Guatemala, I booked a separate ticket to Madrid, and in case there would be a delay, I made sure I had enough time to get to Madrid ;).
After a short stop in Paris, I arrived safe and sound in Madrid. Even though it was evening, the weather was still great. I arrived in the hostel, and quickly went for dinner. Enjoying the lovely evening sun, I ate some delicious Spanish tortilla on a baguette, olives and a beer to celebrate the fact this trip had really started. Tired as I was I skipped the free sangria night, which was taking place in our hostel. The next morning, starting with free churros in the hostel, nomnom, I took part in the free city tour, also offered by the hostel, where I met some nice people, including another Dutch girl (so far the only Dutch person I met the past 3 weeks!). After the fun and interesting city tour I went for lunch with her and I enjoyed walking around Madrid, ending the afternoon relaxing in the park Retiro. In the evening I joined the all-you-can-eat-tapas-tour, another activity of the (really awesome and fun) hostel. We went to a typical Spanish, noisy, torn down, but somehow charming pub, and indeed got so much food we couldn’t eat it all including a big jar of tinto de verano. The rest of the group went on for the pub-crawl but I decided to call it a night as I had a flight in the morning.
After this short, but relaxing and fun, visit to Madrid, I left very early to Barajas airport, to catch my flight to Miami. As I didn’t officially meet the visa regulations to enter Guatemala, I was a bit worried they wouldn’t let me on the plane, so I arrived extra early in case I had to book an extra ticket or something like that. After a loooong wait for check-in (I was tooo early, so I had to let other passengers pass), I managed to check-in, and indeed got asked about my visa stuff for Guatemala, but talked my way out of it :D I guess the guy behind the desk didn’t really know the regulations, so I got my ticket and pretty relieved went on to security and off to the gate. Once I arrived there, there was another security where they had to check all my hand-luggage somehow (such a hassle to fly to the US….). Apparently I somehow was the last person to arrive there, even though I arrived to the airport very early… Anyway, I just made it to the flight and prepared myself for the 10 hour long flight with American Airlines. No fancy personal TV-screens in this plane unfortunately, so I slept a lot and enjoyed the rather tasty food and drinks :).
After a long, but pretty ok flight, I arrived in Miami! 2 long hours of waiting to pass immigration (not so many questions this time though :)) and another 1.5 hours to pass security, I finally could leave the airport! Unlike most places in the US, Miami has a really nice and cheap bus-system, and for just a few dollars I could catch a bus from the airport to my very awesome hostel on Miami South Beach, the Freehand Miami Hotel/Hostel. Very spacious dorms rooms, with 2 bathrooms in the room for 8 people (!!), big big lockers, own reading light and power outlets, daily fresh towels and bedding, the rooms were already amazing. But the highlight of the hostel is for sure the courtyard, including a pool and a big big lounge area and a bar. Also the breakfast was pretty good and the beach was just a few minutes away, so I really recommend this hostel to anyone going to Miam!! Enough promo here ;).
I spent the afternoon at the beach, which thank god was not as busy as last time I was in Miami (5 years ago, when it was spring break…) My crazy Finnish roommates invited me to go party with them, but after the long flight, I decided to skip that ;). The next day I enjoyed Miami Beach, walking along all of South Beach. As I had been in Miami before, I skipped on the real sight-seeing, as there is not much to see anyway ;). My plan for the last day was to rent a bicycle to discover Miami from a different point of view and after that relax at the beach and the pool of the hostel, but that plan failed big time :(. The weather gods had decided to send a big storm to Miami, including lots of wind, thunder and rain, so much there was flooding and so on. In the morning I quickly did some last sightseeing on foot, before the big storm would hit and then I went off to a big shopping mall outside of Miami, where I spend the rest of the day, shopping, eating and checking out all these American stores I hadn’t been to for so long.
The next morning it was already time to leave, off to the real adventure! Managed to get all my stuff in my suitcase again, wondering why the hell I had to bring so much stuff :P…. I guess I will never learn to pack properly ;). I enjoyed my last nice breakfast at the poolside and took the bus to the airport. Expecting that I needed lots of time to get to the gate with all these security issues in the US, I arrived really early, but in the end, that was totally unnecessary. Scared that they would ask again for my flight ticket out of Guatemala within 3 months, I booked a flight ticket the day before to Mexico, just in case, but it was not needed in the end, no questions asked :D. With no issues here I arrived way too early at the gate, but well :P. I already saw the first Guatemaltecos (people from Guatemala), including some Mayan people in very colorful dresses.
After a pretty short flight I then arrived in Guatemala, the country I would call home the next months. Unfortunately the lovely rain decided to go with me, so we were welcomed with lots of rain. Unlike arriving to the US, here I managed to leave the airport in just 15 minutes! No questions asked at immigration, just a stamp, (pfieuwww, I was really happy), and no security check for me (the rest of the people was checked though :P). Welcome to Guate :D. A private shuttle bus to Antigua was arranged in seconds for just 10 dollars and 1 hour later I was dropped off at the door of my hostel, great service here.
The ride from the airport in Guatemala City to Antigua was already pretty interesting. Guatemala City looked pretty bad, crappy, chaotic and not that safe. Lots of fences, gated communities, old, decayed houses, homeless people, people selling everything possible on the street while walking between traffic and many stray dogs. When leaving the city we drove through the mountains, which was really impressive. Because of all the rain everything is so green and grows like ‘kool’ as we would say in Dutch. My first impressions of Antigua when entering this city were that it seemed like a cute village. All the roads are made of cobblestones, so sitting in a car is not that nice ;) And cycling would be horrible I think haha. All the houses look very nice, even though they are not always in a good state, they are painted in very lively colors, which gives Antigua a lot of charm.
I checked in to the Yellow House, another amazing hostel, which I heard and read great stories about, and got my own private room, where I would spend the first week. As I arrived earlier than expected my room was not yet ready, but the cleaning lady told me to just wait a bit at the roof terrace, and she would prepare the room. 2 hours later it was finally ready ;) So much for ‘a bit of waiting’ haha. I don’t know how much you can clean one small room for 2 hours, but they seemed very busy with it, including vacuuming the mattress (which they would do daily(!). Once settled down in my, super super clean, room, with a great view on one of the volcanos and the yellow church, I went for my first walk in Antigua, off to find food and water!
Well that was quite a lot for now I guess ;) More about my first weeks in Antigua in my next blog, which will follow pretty soon!
Adios amigos en groetjes uit Guate!
P.s. pictures you can find on my Facebook, if you want the link to just the album, let me know and I'll send it to you.
Foto's bij verslag (12)
22 juni 2014 09:19 | Door: Maria
Wooow, sounds really amazing so far! :) (except for the flood in Miami :) )
For me it doesn't really matter in which language you write :)
22 juni 2014 09:34 | Door: Marcella
Wow wat een leuk verhaal Sygrit! Super dat je dit gewoon zo doet. Heel veel succes en veel plezier daar en ik ga je zeker volgen! Liefs, Marcella
22 juni 2014 13:36 | Door: Annie
Ik wist helemaal niet dat je zo'n verre reis ging maken en dan daar een poos te blijven. Maar morgenvroeg komt je Mem op visite en zullen we het er waarschijnlijk uitgebreid over hebben. Ik moest nodig weer eens bijpraten met haar. Fantastisch dat je dat allemaal durft en doet. Ik wens je een prachtige tijd daar en ga je zeker volgen (mag ook wel in het fries hoor).
Lieve groetjes van Okke en Annie.
22 juni 2014 14:25 | Door: Sybe Andringa
Dus aan gekomen in Antigua, wij zijn wel benieuwd naar jou ervaringen in Guatamala. Wij vonden Antigua ook heel erg leuk, veel huizen geverfd in verschillende kleuren.
Wij wensen je veel succes en geniet er van. Sybe en Aly
22 juni 2014 15:34 | Door: Grietje
Erg leuk om te lezen wat je allemaal meemaakt, zo denk ik ook weer even terug aan onze reis naar Midden Amerika. Geniet ervan en ik blijf je volgen! Groetjes Grietje
24 juni 2014 19:15 | Door: Magda
finally a blog post! :D looking forward to reading more about your crazy adventures ^^
29 juni 2014 14:21 | Door: Arthur en Gea
Hoi sygrit.wat super dat we je kunnen volgen. Geweldig dat je dit doet en we wensen je een hele mooie tijd toe in Guatemala !horen vast van je moeder ook wel verhalen!