And Im back From Guatemala in one piece

Old Sep 30th, 2013, 08:48 PM
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And Im back From Guatemala in one piece

GUATEMALA WAS JUST EXCEPTIONALLY AMAZING! Thanks to everyone who helped reassure me of my safety and gave great tips on where to stay and what to do. I never felt more safe in such a place people claim to be unsafe. I would not trade in this 6 days and 5 nights experience for the world. It was just so magical and I am glad I built up the courage to take this trip ALONE.

Hopping from town to town, BnBs to Hotels, Adventure to Adventure, you really meet some amazing people who are also their alone either backpacking, taking spanish classes or on vacation like I was. And you automatically click and cling to them and become family.

I first stopped in Antigua and stays at Casa Antigua Hotel for two nights. I started my second day off doing a 6am hike up Pacaya Volcano and boy was that the most breath-taking scenery. Even though 10 minutes into the hike, my out of shape self needed to purchase a horse to take me up the rest of the way, it was still an enjoyable scenic view.

Next I Went to Panajachel to witness what everyone says is the most beautiful lake in the world, Lake Atitlan. And Oh MY GOODNESS, i do not have the right adjectives to describe just how peaceful and beautiful this lake was. I also visited 3 other villages that surrounded the lake, San Pedro, San Marcos and San Antonio. There are more villages and they each have their own little personalities.

Anyway, I had a marvelous time and cried my last night their because I was just so proud of myself and grateful for all of Gods wonders. This was definitely a trip that allowed refreshing self-discoveries and outstanding scenery. The citizens there are just the nicest and cant wait to go back. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR HELP
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Old Sep 30th, 2013, 09:21 PM
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Excellent. Glad to hear you enjoyed it and all went very well, apparently.

Your earlier posts actually made me look into Antigua myself and I'm considering going there in March with my husband and daughter, who will be 16 then. Right now, it's not set in stone and we're considering a couple of other places too, but I need to make a decision soon.

It's very reassuring to hear from those who traveled there and give glowing reports.
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Old Sep 30th, 2013, 11:51 PM
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So happy (but not surprised!) that you had a wonderful trip - good for you for going for it, Aderonke! Thanks for coming back with a trip report - hungry for more, though. Did you end up having someone make arrangements for you? I remember you were asking about that before your trip. Where did you stay in Panajachel? Favorite restaurants either place? Share shuttles or private shuttles? Transportation provider? Thanks in advance.
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Old Oct 1st, 2013, 09:37 AM
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I'm no happy your trip went so well. And that going solo worked out just fine too. Thanks for posting back.
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Old Oct 1st, 2013, 09:41 AM
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Thank you so much for taking the time to post your report. I traveled to Guatemala and Honduras last year and absolutely loved it. I spent many years traipsing around Europe and loved it too. However, if I had known how wonderful and inexpensive Guatemala is, I would have gone there years sooner.

I also applaud you for stepping out and taking the trip solo. Many people are afraid to do so. My first solo trip was when I was in my 20s, and once I took that step, I was hooked. Of course, traveling with companions has its benefits, too, but I'm single and not only do I not mind traveling alone--I actually prefer it.

BumbleB6, I noticed on another thread that you are considering Antigua but "reading about having to always have an escort/guide wherever one goes in Guatemala, is very un-nerving." I don't know where you read that, but fortunately that's not true. I used a guide to climb Pacaya Volcano, but otherwise I traveled unescorted and never felt unsafe.

It is recommended that visitors take the free Tourist Police tour up to Cerro de la Cruz in Antigua because of the danger of robberies. And of course you don't want to wander deserted streets at night. But you certainly don't have to walk around Guatemala anxiously clutching your purse in fear, as Aderonke's trip report can attest to. Just take normal precautions and keep aware of your surroundings and you should be just fine.

If you do decide to go to Antigua, please make sure you go to Lake Atitlan. Like Aderonke, I found it to be stunningly beautiful. I didn't want to leave. I stayed in Panajachel for one night and the only village I visited was Santiago. The next time I go I will definitely also check out some of the other villages, particularly San Pedro and San Marcos. In fact, if I had known I was going to like Lake Atitlan so much, I would have cut out a couple of days in Antigua and spent them at the Lake instead.

Anyway, thank you again Aderonke for posting your trip report. I can't wait to go back to Guatemala!
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Old Oct 1st, 2013, 10:12 AM
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Thank you for your reassurances walkabout. Again, to hear that people went and just had a fun, relaxing time, makes me feel much more confidant about going.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2013, 06:49 AM
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Bumbleb6..Im so excited for you. Take that leap out there. Its so inexpensive and beautiful at the sametime. Im sure you will not regret the experience.
No worries about safety. Hopefulist gives out a great list on what precautions to take which is great for any country. There is tons of activities for you and the
Fam to do. Go for it.

Hopefulist and Suze, thanks for answering all the redundant questions I had leading up to the trip. Lol you guys have truly been a blessing.
I did most of the arranging myself. I did no tour guides except up the Pacaya Volcano and did most of my adventures with ppl I met out there or alone. I stayed at
Jenna’s Bed and Breakfast In Panajachel and she was just so accommodating and welcoming. I’d definitely stay there again. I booked all my shuttles through the hotel I stayed in Antigua (Casa Antigua Hotel) and the Bed and Breakfast in Panajachel, all shared shuttle. Shared shuttles are the best because you meet all your new friends on your trip there. If I would of done private, I would not have been able to get instant feedback and suggestions on other places to visit in the country. Shared shuttles are just cheaper as well. In Antigua the restaurant I enjoyed was Café Bourbon and in Panajachel I did a Vietnamese restaurant on Santander street right next to the Pana Rock.

Walkabout, San Pedro is a must. As soon as you hop of the boat you can feel the liveliness of the village. Its more of a party type of village opposed to San Marcos which is very holistic with yoga and meditation classes, therapy, psychic readings and holistic massages. Everyone considers it the hipster part of town.

Now that I got a taste of this solo situation, Im wondering where to next..lol
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Old Oct 2nd, 2013, 07:42 AM
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Thanks Aderonke. I love your attitude, and the way you eagerly accepted feedback and suggestions. You also took the time to report back, which most people don't do. Travelers like you make it a joy to share travel knowledge. Good luck on your next trip!
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Old Oct 5th, 2013, 06:40 PM
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I'm so happy to have found this thread. My daughter (19 yr old, college freshman) is begging for a birthday gift of a trip to anywhere in the spanish speaking world. She took Spanish each each in high school and wants test her language "chops" in a real world setting.

I would have to send her solo. Would you please give me recommendations (and hesitations. Antigua seems to be nice. Finally, how much money should I allocate for a five or six day trip? Nothing lavish. Just enough to really sample the place(s) as a young, wide-eyed traveler.
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Old Oct 5th, 2013, 06:54 PM
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I would HIGHLY recommend she pick a great Spanish school, study with a 1-on-1 tutor 3 or 4 hours/day, and live with a local family. Antigua is a great 1st place to do this and I am very fond of wonderful schools on Lake Atitlán in Guatemala and in Copán Ruinas in western Honduras.

Cost per week including full room and board (usually no Sunday meals, though), is $150-250 - cheap way to travel! I'd recommend at least a full week. Here are links to my favorite schools; let me know if I can help with more information, including information about receiving university credit.
Antigua: http://spanishacademyantiguena.com/
Atitlán: cooperativeschoolsanpedro.edu.gt
Copán: http://ixbalanque.com
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Old Oct 5th, 2013, 06:55 PM
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Oops - middle link didn't 'take':
http://cooperativeschoolsanpedro.edu.gt/
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Old Oct 5th, 2013, 09:45 PM
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Thank you, Hopefulist.

I will discuss this with her tomorrow. Seems great.
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Old Oct 7th, 2013, 07:17 AM
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Repsaknivek,

Great, Im so happy you were able to get comfort from this thread. Well for me, without room and flight I spent about 350 dollars with in the same amount of time your daughter will be going. Maybe even less.
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Old Oct 13th, 2013, 11:37 AM
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I'm going to Antigua and Lake Atitlan next week. Is anyone familiar with the weather there? Do I need a warm jacket, or just a cover up? Does it rain?
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Old Oct 13th, 2013, 11:53 AM
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I'm going to Antigua and Lake Atitlan next week. Is anyone familiar with the weather there? Do I need a warm jacket, or just a cover up? Does it rain?
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Old Oct 13th, 2013, 11:58 AM
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Sorry. That came out twice.
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Old Oct 13th, 2013, 07:25 PM
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Both those locations are at an elevation of 4500-5000 feet. Even visiting in the summer, I always pack a light weight fleece jacket and a very light weight goretex jacket; others prefer to take a dime store poncho or a just an umbrella. It could be cool in the evenings and mornings and you can expect rain - at least some days - in the afternoons or evenings. Enjoy!
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Old Oct 13th, 2013, 07:26 PM
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PS I pack a long-sleeved shirt, too, so I have that to layer with the jackets. If I'm a little cold, it's never for long.
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Old Oct 14th, 2013, 09:07 AM
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Thanks hopefullist. That's quite helpful.
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Old Oct 14th, 2013, 11:07 AM
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I decided to repost my best pack light advice from a previous thread, see below.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
_______________________________

My best travel advice is to pack really light - just a loosely-filled carry-on sized pack. As Rick Steves says:
“The importance of packing light cannot be overemphasized, but, for your own good, I'll try. You'll never meet a traveler who, after five trips, brags: "Every year I pack heavier." The measure of a good traveler is how light she travels. You can't travel heavy, happy, and cheap. Pick two.”

Here's a great resource for validation and ideas:
www.onebag.com
Take clothes that can be layered, including a light fleece for the highlands plus a light goretex jacket or cheapie poncho if you'll be there during the wet season; I'm not an umbrella person but some folks prefer them to a jacket or poncho. Good quality microfiber/wicking clothes are awesome - they're actually cooler than cotton in the heat, layer well, and dry in a flash so they're good in the highlands as well as the lowlands. I wear jeans at home but not when I travel - they’re heavy to pack, take forever to dry, and dry stiff on a clothes line.

Some clothes with "wicking" tags are cheap knock-offs and wear like plastic. As a rule of thumb, anything that REI sells is a good brand:
www.rei.com
They're spendy but have great sales. I also like shopping at these online outlets (after I've researched REI and know what brands to consider):
www.rei-outlet.com
www.campmor.com
www.sierratradingpost.com

Be sure your shoes (I take Keen Newport H20s and a pair of flipflops) are comfortable for walking and that your pack is comfortable; if you're interested in my take on a few great travel packs, let me know.

My packing list for CA is #14 in the FAQ thread of the Thorntree forum. It's served me well for many years, though I've added a tiny netbook computer since I blog and help manage other people's trips while I'm on the road. I usually spend 3-6 weeks each summer in CA but my list would be the same for a week or 6 months:
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntre...hreadID=828622

You might also be interested in the advice I give folks who are traveling with me when I lead groups:
http://share.cx.com/ZCZXcc

Cultural note: I reserve shorts and sundresses for beachy areas, rafting, etc. to be respectful culturally but lots of tourists wear them - ok as long as they aren't so daring they attract attention.

Hope that helps - happy trails!
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