I will start this off by saying I got my first stamps in my passport book this past week. Woot woot!
Secondly, I'm delayed posting this as I came back sick and had barely left my apartment in the past five days.
Back to the fun stuff of Guatemala. I left for Guatemala on Sunday, July 24th taking Delta from SFO to my layover in LAX. Then I got on a midnight redeye flight into Guatemala City. As we were on our decent, we were above the clouds and along with the sunrise I caught this beautiful picture.
For reference, here is a map showing the pertinent locations in my life so you understand how distant things are.
Once we landed and I took my phone off airplane mode, I found my first problem. I have no cellular service here. I did not see a SIM card place on the way out to pick one up. I found out when leaving on Friday that there are multiple SIM card places upstairs on the departures level. I now know that the next time I visit in September.
I will tell you, the hardest part of being in Guatemala is the language barrier for me. I speak only the most basic terms in Spanish. So I had three ways of communicating around the city. First, if the person spoke any English, then I was good to go. Second, I would use hand motions, which worked some of the time too. The third way was to use the Google Translate app and show the translation to the person. Between those three things, I was able to get around pretty well.
At the Xoom office, while Spanish was obviously the most spoken language everyone could converse in English with me, so that brought me less anxiety and more comfortable being around for the week.
The Xoom Guatemala office is gorgeous. Here are a selection of photos.
Here is a few more pictures that I want to provide some commentary. First, the badge reader is also a fingerprint reader. Very cool!
This office is recently renovated and expanded, so here is what happens when the elevator installation is behind schedule.
Finally, for those of you who work in an office every day and dream of a standing desk. Here adjustable standing desks are the default for everyone. You have to ask to have it removed, whereas in most companies it is the opposite and a bunch of red-tape.
I kept a log of general observations in my time in Guatemala. The first and most important one are how friendly everyone I interacted was. A concrete example was a cab driver who was able to converse with me in English. He apologized to me for not speaking clearly in English. I was flabbergasted by this. I was in his country and unable to speak his country's language, and he apologized to me for not speaking my language clearly. I can just imagine the "speak the language of our country" people here in the US who would have been a total jackass about that. In return, I apologized to him for not speaking his language and thanked him for speaking such clear English.
Another observation was that a Bombay Sapphire martini was cheaper than a local light beer. Not by much, but both were about $6 USD. That would never happen back home.
Finally, on the way home as we descended to SFO I saw this weird fields whose patterns reminded me of the Maryland flag.