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Hopefulist's 2011 CA Travelogue - GUATEMALA & HONDURAS

Hopefulist's 2011 CA Travelogue - GUATEMALA & HONDURAS

Old Aug 8th, 2011, 06:13 AM
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Thanks hope...I'll check out the Tikal stuff when I have more time. Now it's off to work!
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Old Aug 9th, 2011, 06:05 PM
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As always I love your trip reports and photos. I can only imagine the impact the Beca project is having on your students and their families.
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Old Aug 10th, 2011, 08:06 AM
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Thanks brmsimmons! That project is a central joy in my life. Also profound is the impact on the sponsors and their families. We're always looking for more scholarship sponsors or folks interested in donating to the emergency food/medical fund or the housing project if anyone out there has $ they'd like to contribute (100% impacts the kids and families since 0% goes to administration). Sorry for the shameless plug but it's a great cause! www.becaproject.org
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Old Aug 10th, 2011, 10:00 PM
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Stacey, I have been looking forward to your trip report! Nicely done and great work on the Beca Project. Hope to study at the Cooperativa one day - I know it must be wonderful since you recommend it year after year. Have also stayed at charming Casa Cristina , room 12 and loved the location and safety for traveling solo. Oh and the view.... and the rooftop patio.

It will take a while to enjoy all your photos but since I am not a diver, I would appreciate your views on the snorkling ...were most of those underwater shots taken during your dive? Or is there lots to see just snorkling?

Also you mentioned disinfecting your fruit and veggies. What did you use and did you use purified or local water.

Thanks.
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Old Aug 10th, 2011, 10:16 PM
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Hi, there!
Yeah, the Cooperativa is awesome - hope you make it there sometime. They have a new website and email address since I posted this travelogue:
website: www.cooperativeschoolsanpedro.edu.gt
email: [email protected]

All the photos were taken while I was snorkeling except the boat one and the dive one of me which was taken by a dive buddy. I was really impressed with everything about the snorkeling except the visibility which wasn't good; I think that's common off Roatán when it rains (which it did a few nights and a bit one day while we were there).

I only drink purified water which is usually (but not always) provided by the Spanish schools, homestays, and hotels I frequent. We use Microdyn for purification of things we don't peel; I bought some in Mexico last summer and it will last us years. Happy trails!
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Old Aug 16th, 2011, 12:24 PM
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Thanks for this wonderful trip report! I was just wondering where to go with my father, and this has me now convinced. Love the details you have provided!
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Old Aug 16th, 2011, 12:53 PM
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Let me know if there's more I can do to help!
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Old Jan 23rd, 2012, 10:08 AM
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Has anyone travelled to the Mosquitia and Olancho area? I didn't even know about it until I started reading a travel book. Apparently it's still very unspoiled territory, and sounds interesting and adventurous. Maybe too adventurous, I'm not sure, but my interest has been piqued, at least as part of my vacay.

Any info/suggestions/warnings?
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Old Jan 23rd, 2012, 10:33 AM
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There are ways to visit on your own if you're adventurous and persistent. Most folks visit with a tour provider; I know Omega offers trips to that area:
www.omegatours.info

You can try a search of the Thorntree Forum - several very knowledgeable travelers have explored that area and written reports. Sounds like an awesome adventure - hope you find what you're looking for!
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntre...spa?forumID=12
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Old Jan 24th, 2012, 04:10 PM
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Great to read this. I loved it at the Escuela Cooperativa. Is Chino still there? He was my teacher. And I too stayed in the apartment on site. Every morning when I got up and saw the view I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
I'm looking at Honduras the time after next and will keep this report in mind.
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Old Jan 24th, 2012, 08:02 PM
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Check out the Ixbalanque school in Copán - another wonderful place to study Spanish. There are other Honduras trip reports linked on the main page of the photo collections here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections

I'm heading back to the Cooperativa for 3 weeks in July but will live with a family again. The apartments are awesome but I prefer homestays unless my husband is staying with me. Happy trails!
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 11:48 AM
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Hi all!
I've been wanting to do a trip to CA - maybe a little Guatemala, a little El Salvador, a little Honduras, ending on Roatan, where I've been before and am dying to return.

However, every time I mention it to someone they say, are you crazy? It's dangerous! Kidnappings! Violence! Honduras is the murder capital of the world!
And so now, my hubby isn't too thrilled about this trip!
I keep telling him that everyone who warns us against going has never actually been there! It's just hearsay!

Any suggestions?
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 01:47 PM
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Yeah, stuff happens sometimes but it's my opinion that most of the crime is gang related in the larger cities and has very little impact on tourists. Crimes of opportunity happen if your guard is down so it pays to pay attention, especially in crowded or distracting environments. I'm a smallish middle aged woman and travel to CA every summer; I've pasted my personal safety guidelines below. Happy trails!
____________________________________________

Sometimes I travel alone, sometimes with one or more of my kids and/or my husband, sometimes with a group in tow. I don't feel overly paranoid but have never had a problem and would like to keep it that way.

Here are my concessions to safety when I travel in Central America:
:: I avoid the big cities as much as possible
:: I don't "party"
:: Where recommended I take specific transportation (ex: Hedman Alas in Honduras, avoid chicken buses on the mountain runs in Guatemala, take taxis after dark)
:: I know where I am and where I'm headed and make major transitions with plenty of daylight left
:: I don't wear jewelry (not even my wedding band) and try not to flash camera equipment or money around
:: Some trips I carry a “throw down wallet” with an expired card or 2 and the day’s cash in it
:: I keep important documents and cash under my clothes (except what I need for shopping, buses, etc. for that time period) and keep close watch on my things, especially in crowded places and when I’m tired
:: I ask locals about safety in an area - evenings, hiking, etc.
:: I travel really light so I don't feel vulnerable getting my bag off and on buses, shuttles, etc.
:: I continue to build skills in Spanish
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Old Jan 31st, 2012, 09:59 PM
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Thanks, hopeful!
Now I have to convince the hubby!
And I have to figure out how to implement the traveling light - this is not something I'm good at!
Perhaps you could make some packing suggestions - since I believe the weather will vary a bit, much cooler in the highlands of Guatemala, much hotter in Honduras, some rainforest, some beach, etc. And is it ok in these countries to wear shorts? Esp if it's hot? What about sundresses?
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 06:12 AM
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Here's a Rick Steves quote I like:
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:
www.onebag.com

Here's the packing suggestions I have for people who are traveling in my groups to CA:
http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/4/...NG%20NOTES.pdf

Here's my standard CA packing list - #14 in the FAQ thread of the Thorntree forum:
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntre...hreadID=828622

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. Happy trails!
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 10:05 AM
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OK, so if it's hot & I'm in a town, what would you wear? Are longer shorts good? Is a sundress ok if the top isn't too bare?
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 02:45 PM
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Shorts and tops and sundresses that aren't skimpy are fine anywhere; I choose to wear wicking button-down travel shirts and capris or knee length (or longer) skirts.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2013, 10:29 PM
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Hi hopefulist,

So appreciate all of your time, effort and amazing photos posted. It is most enjoyable and extremely helpful. I am planning a trip with my two young adult children. My daughter and I will start from Playa del Carmen (where I will have been for two months learning some spanish hopefully) and will travel to meet my son who is flying from Vancouver to Gua. Arr. Dec 23. We will leave PDC and have 5 days to get to GUA..suggestions on how best to do this with a stop for a couple nights in Belize?

The three of us have 11 days in Guatemala. Antigua, San Pedro, Chichi. Coban and Livingston are all of interest thus far. We have also discussed the idea of volunteering for a day or three...suggestions?. Our budget is moderate...safety is important of course. We are not inclined towards organized tours however, this may be necessary for Volcano hike? Hiking (my son) shopping ( my daughter) , culture & food (all of us) are important. What do you think of my location choices as far as our time is concerned? I would be happy to pre-plan as much as possible for this portion of our trip. My daughter and I continue south for the remainder of Jan eventually winding up back in PDC on Feb 1. (I'll leave questions regarding that portion of the trip for later

What do you think we can expect to budget for accom/food per day for three?
Suggestions on amount of time in each location?
You have posted a ton of eating and staying, so once I figure out where and for how long,
..and how to get from place to place, I'll look At booking our stays.

A ton of questions for a first post....being Canadian, I considered apologizing, but instead I'll say thanks in advance for any advice you have to offer, eh!
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Old Oct 4th, 2013, 12:09 AM
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Hi, there -
For the transportation pieces to, through, and from Belize, check out this great resource:
www.belizebus.wordpress.com

Re: where to stop in Belize, it depends on your interests. For blue water time, I'd suggest Caye Caulker, for caving and Maya sites, the San Ignacio area in western Belize. We like Hopkins and Punta Gorda but they might not be on your way unless your timing is right for boats to Caribbean Guatemala.

You don't mention Tikal which is not only a true highlight of Guatemala but likely enroute to the other places on your list. I highly recommend at least 1 night in the park and try to arrange for a tour with archaeologist/naturalist Roxy Ortiz - she's terrific. If you love Maya ruins, another favorite in that area is Yaxhá.
www.tikalroxy.blogspot.com

After meeting up with your son, figure that 11 days is enough for 3 or maybe 4 stops if you pick ones that aren't too far apart. If you pick ones that require a day coming and going (like Coban), you've used up 2 of your precious 11 days - bad trip math imo. Livingston is ok and the trip down the Rio Dulce is beautiful, but it's another out of the way place that will take up full travel days. If you're hitting Tikal before your son flies in, you'd have time for 1 or the other but not both imo.

Of the others, Antigua and Lake Atitlán would be my 1st suggestions and Chichi is an easy stop, maybe as you transfer between the others. If you don't want to spend a Wed or Sat night there (before the Th or Sun market), consider hiring private transportation to get you there really early so you can enjoy the market set up, church steps activities, and the gorgeous produce market in the commercial building (don't miss it!) and then leave (by 10 or 10:30?) before the crowds of day trippers take over. It's a culturally fascinating place and worth looking around but for most things you'll find better shopping in Panajachel.

Re: volcano hikes, you'll need transportation and a guide, available on every street corner shop in Antigua. Here are 2 transportation providers I’ve been pleased with in Guatemala for share shuttles, private transfers, and flight arrangements:
Adrenalina Tours: www.adrenalinatours.com
Rainbow Travel: www.rainbowtravelcenter.com

My favorite hikes so far have been around Nebaj (likely out of reach this trip unless you strip away other things) and around Atitlán; Indian Nose from San Juan and then down the backside to Santa Clara on a market day is a treat for me (and a challenge).

Re: volunteering, having just a day or 3 makes it hard to be very useful, sorry to say. I bookmarked this Thorn Tree thread recently with links, though:
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntre...readID=2346426

Here are links to my favorite hotels in Antigua and on Atitlán, all $20-40/double depending on the room; some of them have dorms or rooms with 3 beds.
Antigua: www.casa-cristina.com
Panajachel: http://www.mariosroomsatitlan.com/
San Pedro La Laguna: http://hotel-sakcari.com/ and http://www.mikasohotel.com/

My favorite hotel in the park at Tikal is the Tikal Inn:
http://www.tikalinnsunrise.com/

In Flores, http://www.corpetur.com/ has some good ones and La Mesa de los Mayas is a good budgetish place.

Food can be cheaply purchased and prepared in a share kitchen or at locals restaurants, $2-4/meal is doable that way. You'll also find restaurants that charge N. American prices.

You probably already knows this, but just in case: you'll pay several times more for group Spanish in Mexico than what you'd pay for 1-on-1 instruction in Guatemala.

Have a great trip, whatever you decide. Happy trails!
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Old Oct 5th, 2013, 08:28 AM
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Hi hopefulist,

Thank you for your suggestions. Clearly it makes the most sense for my daughter and I to visit tikal on our way to meet my son, otherwise it's seems like many more hours on buses for my daughter and I. ideally, I would want my son to visit Tikal.
I have considered flying from Belize city to Guatemala City -more expensive, but obvious time saving.

Meet in Guatemala City early 23
Spend the day there with private car-suggestions?
Leave 23 Overnight bus to Flores -try to arrange Roxy for same day, or next..Although it will be Christmas Day...does that matter? For maybe Tikal and Uaxacutan? 24, 25, leave 26 on overnight to Antigua
Antigua,arrive 27, spend three nights ( hopefully arranging the early morning market trip for the Sunday)
Then to the lake, sa,30 31, 1, head back to GC on 2, for overnight as my son catches an early flight on the third
Doable, or way too hectic?
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