The end of 2014 marks the end of another year of worldy travels, but I’m not stopping now! I’m continuing well into the new year, a first for me. I’ve never spent the New Year holidays outside of Michigan and to celebrate the occasion, I wanted to go balls to the wall in Antigua with my comrades here in Guatemala!
I’ve heard Antigua is a pretty special place to celebrate the dawn of 2015. Everyone gathers around the central park and underneath the arch in hordes and bunches. The plan was to spend the night with a nice dinner somewhere and then hit up the squares and see where the night takes us. My housemates Carly, Laura, and Ellie along with Hanni and Abby (Chicago, USA) from the Shakina volunteer house joined me for dinner at a place called Luna de Miel. Before we left the house, Olga warned me to watch out for pickpockets and thieves since this is the night if anything should happen. I brought my big bad Nikon which Olga advised against, but I always protect my camera is if it were my child. I also need it for blogging purposes. At Luna de Miel, we sat upstairs and ordered up a feast. I was feeling fancy, so I stuck with vino tinto (red wine) for a good majority of the night. After a bit, I asked the ladies to say something about their year that they were the proudest of; a moment or something that will stick with them about 2014. They each had some pretty neat things to say, all of them completely different.
For me? I told them how lucky, fortunate, privileged, and blessed I am to be able to travel the world nonstop on a yearly basis with 2014 being my biggest adventure yet. The stars have aligned perfectly for me to be able to do this and 2014 was another terrific year that bid me well in those regards. I can’t take all my friends and family back home with me on these amazing trips, but the least I can do is share my stories and photos with them through this blog site.
After dinner, we went straight to Jungle Party, a hip hostel bar kind of place with swings at the rail in place of stools. It’s also the place with the cheapest beers that we’ve found so far. The bartenders here are really cool and pretty generous. They hit us up with multiple free shots!
I always mention how I don’t like to talk about our drunken antics on this site, but psshhh…it’s New Year’s!
At the Jungle Party we met up with a few other volunteers and hit the streets. It was jam packed!
I knew what Olga meant when she said this was the night of the pickpockets. I was on heavy guard though and thankfully I made it through the entire night with all of my valuables. Hanni, Abby, and I went over to Monoloco to meet up with a few locals who also gave us more free drinks. Beer this time. Antigua you’re too kind! It was about twenty minutes before midnight when we decided we should go near the arch and countdown to midnight. We found Jacob, who came back to Antigua for a visit, and somehow found the others as well and found the perfect spot in front of the fire explosives. As the time ticked closer to midnight, fireworks would go off behind us and all around us from all corners. I had a tube of confetti in my right pocket that was filled with compressed air that I blasted into the crowd!
Ten seconds! Five…four…three…two…one!……..Nothing happened. Maybe Guatemala’s watch was a minute or two off. Twelve minutes went by, past midnight, until suddenly the New Year’s explosive sign lit and finally went off!
The crowd was going wild and everyone held their smartphones and cameras up to capture all the action. We were squished arm to arm in the masses of locals and foreigners from all over the world and it was pretty great! The sparks flew and died down after several minutes.
“Let’s go to Parque Central!” I shouted as I pointed in the direction.
We grabbed each other so we wouldn’t get separated and slowly inched our way there. I had sparklers in my left pocket I had bought earlier that I wanted everyone to have and get silly with.
The mood was just right. We had our sparklers as people around lit stuff on fire and set them into the air. One group had a miniature hot air balloon that they lit into flames and set into the air. However the balloon didn’t go very far and almost sailed right into our group. Kids threw their snappers into the ground as other locals set off miniature fireworks in the park. There was cups and bottles of beer littered all over the cobblestone streets with people relaxed and perched on the corners of the museums and churches surrounding the square. Dozens and dozens of stray dogs were roaming between everyone, maybe looking for scraps of food or maybe just excited from all the exploding objects that were going off. There were people everywhere dancing and mingling. Everyone was having a great time!
A few of us went to another bar somewhere near the arch street. At this point, my memory was a little fuzzy so I don’t remember the name of the place or where exactly it was or what time it was. I do remember someone had bought us another shot there. The rule is you can’t refuse a free shot. Abided.
I had the severe munchies.
“I want McDonalds,” I told Hanni. It sounded like a great idea but only if it were open. A few of us left the bar and straggled to the only McDonalds in Antigua. There were still masses of people roaming the street. Bad news was, we could see McDonald’s in the distance…dark, lonely, and absolutely closed. Good news, there was a Burger King right across from us that was completely open! That should do. It was the best Burger King of my life!
I think I got home just a little after 3:30 in the morning. I’ve lost my housemates ages ago and had to walk home by myself. Even though I had a few drinks in me, I was still cautious and aware of my surroundings if anyone had tried to mug me. I got home safe and sound and instantly passed out. I had no idea if the others were home or not yet.
I woke up the next morning with a text from Hanni that she sent when I fell asleep:
“Not even remotely sleepy… Going to hike Cero to see the city at night, want to come? :-P”
Crazy woman. I would have joined though. 🙂