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Trip Report Hopefulist's 2013 Guatemala Travelogue

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Hi, all -
A summer Guatemala visit was out for me this year due to happy, busy plans to reconnect with host families in Scotland (mine) and The Netherlands (son Isaac's) and a focus week in Cambridge for Isaac's Master's program graduation. I traded to obtain 3 work days each side of spring vacation, a shorter trip for me than usual, right at 2 weeks, the majority of which I spent - happily - in the town of San Pedro La Laguna on Lake Atitlán.

I flew in to GUA on a Wednesday evening and spent a quick overnight in Antigua at my favorite hotel, Casa Cristina ($25 single including tax) - just enough time for an evening stroll around the parque central, pepián at La Fonda de Calle Real (~$7), portable treats the next morning from Fernando's Kaffee on the corner by the hotel, a brisk morning walk around town, and a visit to the new garden campus of the Academia Antigüeña. I chose a private shuttle from Adrenalina Tours instead of a share shuttle or pullman bus this trip in order to choose a mid morning departure for Panajachel. Cost was $90 for the comfy, friendly ride and included nearly 3 hours of Spanish practice to get my arrows lined up for the weeks aheads.
http://casa-cristina.com/
http://www.lafondadelacallereal.com/
http://www.fernandos-kaffee.com/
http://spanishacademyantiguena.com/
http://www.adrenalinatours.com/

You can view my Antigua 2013 blog post here:
http://hopefulistinlatinamerica.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-2013-adventure-begins.html

My usual Guatemala visits include fellow travelers numbering 1 to 20 and I enjoyed the simplicity of visiting sola. My focus this trip, as usual, was my beloved Beca Project:
http://www.becaproject.org

Due to time limitations I visited just the homes of this year's 13 new students (instead of all 43) and substituted pizza lunches with each crop of Beca kids (10-13 in groups delineating by the year they became Beca students) instead of a grand celebration dinner for all the families with cultural entertainment by the students. I took many of the kids shopping for new shoes and clothes and loved seeing the kids and family members around town. In order to connect with families I spent a few evenings in the park meeting and greeting - lots of hugs and gratitude all around.

You can select blog posts specific to these Beca experiences from this April 2013 blog summary:
http://www.becaproject.org/2013/04

The cultural entertainment for this year's trip has a huge historic presence there - the celebration of Semana Santa, Easter week. The majority of our Beca students are Catholic and participate in these events, the most important of the year. I was excited and privileged to celebrate with them.

I specifically requested a Catholic homestay from the Cooperativa Spanish School; total cost was $120 for 11 nights including all meals except on Sundays).
http://www.cooperativeschoolsanpedro.edu.gt/
I lived with a fabulous family: María, José, and their 7-year-old son Felix. I loved my room, the funky bathroom set up, the neighborhood (away from the center, quiet and great exercise hiking to and fro), plus the food was amazing. I felt carried aloft by gratitude for how they included me in their family and in their spiritual commitment to Semana Santa.

Here's a blog post about the family:
http://hopefulistinlatinamerica.blogspot.com/2013/04/my-2013-host-family.html

and one with Semana Santa highlights:
http://hopefulistinlatinamerica.blogspot.com/2013/04/celebrating-semana-santa.html

There are 4 more blog posts about my time on the lake
Market Day:
http://hopefulistinlatinamerica.blogspot.com/2013/03/market-day.html
Searching for Corte:
http://hopefulistinlatinamerica.blogspot.com/2013/04/searching-for-corte.html
Highlights:
http://hopefulistinlatinamerica.blogspot.com/2013/03/2013-san-pedro-la-laguna-highlights.html
Misc. Atitlán:
http://hopefulistinlatinamerica.blogspot.com/2013/04/atitlan.html

After Easter I headed back to Guatemala City via Adrenalina share shuttle (~$24 for a trip that took 5 and a half hours due to heavy traffic in GC) and stayed 2 nights at Villa Toscana near the airport ($38/night single including tax, breakfast, and airport shuttles). The full day between I hired a driver named Elmer (arranged by Villa Toscana) to take me around to various zones, the central plaza, and several awesome museums - 4 hours for $45.
http://hostalvillatoscana.com/

Here's the Guatemala City blog post (hit "Newer Post" at the bottom to see my photo rainbow):
http://hopefulistinlatinamerica.blogspot.com/2013/04/guatemala-city-and-home.html

There's a complete Guatemala 2013 collection of photos organized into 14 sets on my main flickr page:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections

Let me know if I can answer questions.
Happy trails!

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