–By: Andrew Bennett
“You’re going to Guatemala? Why Guatemala?” That was literally the first response I would receive from every person who found out about my next travel location. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I could probably have funded the trip. Lol. And to this question I would always reply “why not?’
My reply would always be “Why not?” The world is a beautiful place, and while some places may not be huge tourist locations or popular on social media, I do aspire to visit as many places as possible. Antigua, Guatemala did not disappoint. While this blog will be from my perspective, the trip was taken with my bro of 12 years, and my travel wingman of seven. Anthony Assent, @kalvin_klien. Also one of the travel crew, @worldwideFGI.
In our usual fashion the first travel questions to answer with my bros are when? And with whom? Once we figured out the dates and who would be down, we used Google Flights and Hopper to see which locations would provide the best and most affordable flights. The options were Guatemala or Portugal. Both places we’ve never been to and heard good things about. Guatemala won because flights were only $370 round trip and had 70 degree weather in February. Easy choice.
To begin, we had no idea what to expect. Much of the research we found was from the perspective of backpackers – white backpackers to be specific. And needless to say, their experiences traveling wouldn’t compare to that of a group of black people traveling for just five days. Going in blind was actually great because we had no expectations.
We decided to stay in Antigua, Guatemala because it is the capital city, read great things about commute, safety, and nightlife.
- The first thing to note about the nightlife in Antigua is the lack thereof. It’s more like an early evening out. Lol. Granted I’m from New York, The City That Never Sleeps, but in Antigua the clubs close at 1am! So unless you’re hosting an after party, you’re in bed by 1:30am.
- All of the spots we went to at night were similar in nature. Depending on the night, any of them could be the move for the night. If one isn’t your speed, just walk a few minutes to the next option. Here’s what to expect:
- Top 40/popular hip hop tracks. (Can’t go wrong with 50 Cent, “Go go go, go shorty! It’s your birthday!”. Lol. Never get tired of that song.)
- Decent/cheap drinks. Pre-gaming is always suggested, but if you can’t for whatever reason, top shelf drinks at bars were about $10, and beers about $5.
Overall, I wouldn’t say there’s anything “LIT” about the nightlife, but if you can become familiar with a group of new people or party with your existing group, you’ll have a good time! I will say though, the best “nightlife” experience came so random. Antigua is a small town so word apparently spreads fast. Everyone in town was talking about a rave that would be happening at night. “Rave, shuttle pick up at Lucky Rabbit, pool party. Be there.” That’s all we needed to hear. That night we ended up at a secret location in the mountains at an outdoor rave in an abandoned empty pool. WHAT A NIGHT!!! Partying through the night into the sunrise, with a group of stranger-friends was amazing. Not a huge fan of EDM music at all, but it was a vibe! Between the friends we met on the shuttle, the outdoor scenery, and the spontaneity of it all, it was certainly a night to remember.
Dress Code: I observed as we went out to these different spots in the night that generally there’s no dress code. Here are some samples of key items that we brought along with us: chucks, jeans, a nice tee or button up, & dad caps.” Some trips we go hard with the fits, but the goal was to blend in with our backpacker friends, but still stand out more so than being the only black guys!
Where to stay:
- We stayed in an AirBnB. Both the host and the location are great.If I go back, I’d 100% stay there again. Well, maybe not. The one downfall was the rooster that woke us up earlier than desired. Even mid-evening when squeezing in those power naps for the “club”, REM sleep was interrupted by “cock-a-doodle-dooooos”. Other than that…good location.
- You’ll be fine!!! Antigua felt super safe. Well lit, generally always other people around and it’s a small walking city. Granted you always want to be smart, but we never felt uneasy. We’re also two athletically built 6 foot black guys…but that’s neither here nor there. ☺☺
- Bring some sneakers that you’ll be comfortable in! It’s very much a walking city, and you’ll be doing A LOT of that. The cobblestone streets don’t make it any easier on your ankles! Uber is available, but between traffic and bad service, just walk and view the city.
- I Wasn’t very impressed with the food, unfortunately. Sadly to say we ended up at a BBQ spot called Pappy’s BBQ. Most of the mom & pop spots we stumbled in were underwhelming. We tried random spots to support local business but were never left craving more.
Things to Do:
- Spontaneous is my middle name. It’s who I am, and it works for me. That being said, each day we enjoyed figuring it out and going with the flow.
- One highlight was meeting some tourists from Europe and accompanying them to a local farm. We learned about fruit and plants unique to the region, listened to live music, drank mojitos and exchanged travel stories and aspects of respective cultures. It was a very chill day spent with stranger-friends and I appreciate them taking me in the for the day.
- Walking the city is also fun. Take flicks at all popular spots, stop for quick drink and local establishments, tell jokes. Etc.
- There are also excursions, but nothing you can’t do in other countries, jet skis, swimming with dolphins, zip line, etc.
- Hiking volcanoes! You read right. We had the opportunity to hike an active volcano, Pacaya. It was a breathtaking experience. The two hour hike lead to a view of us literally standing above the clouds. It also included making smores straight from the ground, out of a magma chamber.
Overall the trip was solid. The locals welcomed us with open arms, the weather was great, and it was very cost effective. Depending on the type of person you are when you travel, 4-5 days is great. A good get away from the hustle and bustle of NYC and enjoy a new culture.
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