Valenntin loves Antigua: A testimonial
In November 2018, I traveled to Guatemala with WanderWorld Travel and stayed in Antigua until January 2019, before continuing my journey to Mexico. WanderWorld Travel took care of my accommodations and my new job, and I was able to put in my own requests regarding my time in Guatemala. With my job at the hostel, I found exactly the right place for me. I would like to tell you about my time in the hostel in Antigua and maybe inspire you to take a closer look at working in a hostel in Latin America.
How did I become aware of the WanderWorld Travel program?
Before I became aware of Wanderworld Travel, I was more or less focused on my high school diploma. Subsequently, I traveled privately a bit in Europe, worked a bit and flew to Australia for a month. In the course of my professional orientation and the exact planning regarding my gap year, I discovered the website of Wanderworld Travel by chance and came across the unbeatable offer to come to Guatemala and Mexico.
What was going through my mind in the days before my departure?
Before my departure, amazingly trivial things kept me busy. On the one hand, I became more aware of how and in what form the trip could change me – let’s say in my personal environment; I automatically began to value everything that was previously commonplace and taken for granted. Among other things, I doubted my material and mental preparation for the trip. And before I set off for Hamburg, I was overcome with excitement and uncertainty. However, as soon as I was on the plane from Amsterdam to Panama City, the uncertainty faded and excitement about my new life spread. And I felt especially the way into the first plane in Hamburg as the moment when I was faced with the decision to jump or not. And in the end I jumped – without this experience I wouldn’t be me. And it’s important to take the leap and completely surrender to the anticipation. Mindset is everything. Traveling has its low points and you may have to struggle through a lot, but it’s worth every single one of those terrific experiences and people you have and meet.
My arrival and introduction days
My arrival followed a relaxing flight via Panama City. When I passed through immigration in the evening, my Guatemalan contact, Alejandro, was already waiting at the terminal to take me to Antigua in his private car. Our conversation was thoroughly open and cordial, informative and he provided me with the most important information. During the following days of my introduction, I participated in a six-day private language course. My teacher was very friendly and our class discussions covered grammar and fluency as well as private anecdotes, excursions into Guatemalan history and much more. My first few days at Selina Antigua I had enough free time to see the city on my own.
My new workplace – the hostel
The My New Workplace hostel chain is currently only present in Latin America, but the first hostels are soon to be established in Europe. Originating in Panama City, the chain grew rapidly in Latin America, and is now unique in size worldwide with over 20 locations. Nearly two-thirds of the hostel’s employees are volunteers – young people who work for their room and board. As a volunteer, you have a wide variety of tasks. From customer service at the front desk to bartending, it’s all there. You work eight hours a day, five days a week. You will be rewarded with free drinks, three meals and a comfortable accommodation in shared rooms with the other volunteers.
What did I like best about Antigua?
Antigua cannot be described in words. My subjective experiences were so varied and intense that I can only say about Antigua what others have said before me: The city is incredibly colorful, in architecture, people, cuisine and culture. Coffee, the smell of roasted vegetables, fresh air and a blue sky. A lot of traffic and there is always an immense background noise – but the garden of the hostel seems like an oasis compared to the life in the city. At night there are parties, long evenings with wine and local food and ultimately always an incredible starry sky.
Guatemala as a destination
I really liked Antigua and can definitely recommend Guatemala as a travel destination. Especially the tourist centers and backpacker strongholds, you can travel flawlessly and certainly without concern during the day. At night, you are well advised as a group and you should always pay attention to your gut feeling. But, and this goes especially to parents at this point, the people down there are all helpful and open. They are not threatening at all. You are treated respectfully and no matter where you are, it is safe. Guatemala has changed a lot since the war – and a curious and open-minded generation of Guatemalans is meeting a wave of cosmopolitan, interested and travel-loving backpackers. If you haven’t seen Guatemala in your life, you’ve missed out.