Blogs from Western Highlands, Guatemala, Central America Caribbean - page 3

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Lago Atitlan was a stunning location to arrive on my birthday, having had birthday cake and leftover pizza for breakfast on the bus ride over. We checked into our hostel, who insisted on giving me birthday tequila, and had a pretty relaxed afternoon in front of the lake. We also visited the local women's weaving cooperative- so many beautiful handmade materials, but unfortunately no space in our bags (well, none in mine, which is ridiculously heavy and full. Amateur first time backpacking mistake...!) The next day we went on a horse trek up to a coffee plantation and factory, and to a view point just outside San Pedro with stunning views across the lake. The coffee plantation and factory was super interesting - the factory is basically owned be a cooperative of local growers, and buys ... read more
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After the first few days of pissing around and getting drunk we began to get serious in San Pedro and find ourselves a Spanish school. Following in the footsteps of some of our best friends we sort out the Language hub, signing up for a week we moved into their rooms. Although a fun experience with great people, I smuggled to learn in that environment, there didn't seem to be a structure, planning, end game. Grammar was throw at me left right and centre and after every 4 hour session I would feel exhausted and angry with myself, on top of this I would dread sleeping in our room which smelt of damp and was filled with bugs. All in all it was time to move on. So we found a new school moved into a ... read more
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We left Panajachel in some pretty overcast conditions. Higher and higher we went as we started to make our way to CHICHICASTENANGO (yeah that is a mouthful). The views, as we were driving, were still stupendous as the lake stretched out below us with volcanoes visible as far as the eye could see. What a natural spectacle. We started getting into the highlands where it was really, really rural. The drive was awesome as we saw small towns and people just going about their daily lives. A lot of people were carrying wood so the obvious assumption is that most people still rely on wood almost exclusively for heat and cooking (also fairly evident from all the smoke). We were pretty high up in altitude so in places there were views for miles and miles with ... read more
Guatemalan Highlands
Guatemalan Highlands
Guatemalan Highlands


Distance driven today: 165 miles / 266 km Cumulative distance driven: 6,292 miles / 10,126 km Today’s trip: San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico to Huehuetenango, Guatemala Border crossings: 1 In the morning we left San Cristóbal, in Chiapas Mexico, and both of us felt that we could have easily spent at least three more days exploring the city, eating our way through various restaurants, coffee places, and generally walking around the pedestrian streets. However, it was time to move on south, and so we started riding towards the Guatemalan border. We drove through a multitude of indigenous villages, and descended close to 1,500m/5,000ft over the next hour. As the temperature rose significantly, we had to make several hydration and clothing “easing” stops. Just before 2pm we reached the Guatemalan border, in a rather small and ... read more
A quick hydration and rest stop on the road
The last Chiapas village in Mexico before the border
The Guatemala border


Well we just found out that Nikkie was expecting (yes this blog is 2.5 years old so we do have a toddler running around as of the writing of this blog), end of April was on us, and I had a rough 3 month stretch at work so it was time to get out of dodge. South/ Central America is always pretty cheap during this time. We could have picked any of the Caribbean islands and yet tickets to Guatemala came up as really cheap so I started researching. Not the safest of countries, in fact really dangerous from what I read, but Nikkie was sort of ok with doing it. I kept reading and delayed buying tickets. Rough neighborhoods, neighborhoods in Guatemala City to avoid at all costs, reading reports not to drive anywhere during ... read more
Guatemala
Guatemala
Lake Atitlan


Crossing the border from Mexico to Guatemala was an experience! The plan on arriving in San Cristobal was book a bus to the border and work it out from there. After the ease of traveling around Mexico I guess I didn't figure that the border town in Guatemala wouldn't have a ticket office or information at the bus station, luckily a chicken bus was about to leave when we arrived, without a clear destination or even a clear understanding of the destination of the bus we embarked on a journey that would cover 160km in 6hrs on two buses to arrive at 10pm at a bus 'station' (i.e just a bunch of buses parked just outside town) as we disembarked the bus one of the four schechy men turned the overhead lights off, we asked ... read more
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Lake Atitlan is a beautiful lake around 3 hours from Antigua, it is surrounded by both hills, volcanoes and little villages. We arrived on the chicken bus from Antigua into the largest (Panachanel (Pana)) but stayed in San Pedro la Laguna which is about half an hour boat ride from Pana. This is the social spot on the lake and has lots of bars and hostels and is right next to the inactive San Pedro volcano (3020m). This was a good hike for which we started at 5.30am and wondered up through avocado and coffee plantations until we got to forest and then made the final ascent to the top. Unfortunately, it. Was cloudy so there wasn't much to see other than the fact we were above and being engulfed by the cloud. Either way it ... read more


From Lanquin I took a shuttle to Antigua and stopped there for a night before heading to Xela, which I took a chicken bus. Xela is the second biggest city in Guatemala and is famed by tourists for its hiking and Spanish Schools. People usually come here longer term To do Spanish lessons and stay with host families. Xela had really good vibes and felt really safe. It is set in the middle of the western highlands and has the culture of Antigua but the more modern feeling of a Guatemalan city. In other ways, it's just seemed like a more mature, less touristy Antigua and doesn't have some of the colonial feel surrounding it. I stayed in the Black Cat hostel near to the Parque Central for 2 nights. This was a nice hostel which ... read more


When we arrived in San Pedro we spent the first day relaxing and nursing our freshly blistered feet. We didn't have anything we needed to do, so we didn't. The second day we were excitedly waiting for Ryan who was making an impromptu trip to Guatemala for a visit. He'd been delayed and we didn't really have any way to contact him but we just wandered around town and found the Spanish school that we would be attending. All along the water front is very touristy: loads of restaurants, bars, and souvenir/textile shops. As we climbed the hill to the town centre you get a much more local vibe with the market and Catholic Church. Apparently the locals call the center of town 'San Pedro', while the water front and touristy area is referred to as ... read more


We found food in San Pedro to be very reasonably priced. There are definitely a full range of prices to be had but we were very satisfied with the fare in the 30GTQ to 60GTQ price range, less for the street vendors. A couple of our favourite places were 'Idea Connections' (on the way to the Santiago dock) near our Spanish school where Ashley ate drool inducing pan au chocolates everyday during the school break, and 'd'Juice Girls' which made a huge variety of licuados, smoothies, and juices for on the cheap (and they were the size of a fishbowl). Friday nights we hit up Hostel Fe for quiz nights and for the week that we were in school we would partake in 'Conversation Club' at our school in the evenings for 45min. Spanish School was ... read more
Creepy Trees
One house
Our Spanish School




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