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Last minute details for my trip to Guatemala

Old Feb 11th, 2011, 04:23 AM
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Last minute details for my trip to Guatemala

I am so excited, leaving 2 weeks from today for my 30 day trip. Thanks for all the help so far. I have a few more questions:

1. I am still unsure what to do with my 5.5 hour layover at the airport in Guatemala CIty. I can take a taxi to the local museums (any other options?), but how do I get back? I understand you need to call for a taxi in order to get a reliable one? This leads me to my next question...

2. Is a sim card available at the airport? Do I even need one? I have a sim card that I used in Panama June 2010, Moviestar, that has some time left on it. Would it still be active and would it work in Guatemala?

3. Laundry service? I will be in Antigua with a host family for 1 week, followed by 3 weeks with a host family in San Pedro de Laguna. Can I pay extra to get laundry done by these families (assigned thru the schools) or are there laundry drop off services in these places? I don't want to wash clothes in sinks and am packing super light.

4. I will need to buy toiletries once I arrive in Antigua. Where to buy?

5. I am considering having a dental appointment in Antigua since I have no dental coverage here in the US. Any ideas or thoughts about that? Just need a check up and routine cleaning.

Thanks, I'm sure I'll have some other questions before I leave and I really appreciate everyone's help.
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Old Feb 11th, 2011, 04:42 AM
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You are a lucky duck!! I can help with a few of your questions:

1. I would contact a couple of reliable tour agencies ahead and see what they'd charge for a 3 hour (or however long you have) tour. Just grabbing a taxi at the airport would probably be ok and might be cheaper. I'm curious to hear what you decide because we might spend an afternoon in GC before spending the night and flying to Roatán this summer. My favorites:
www.adrenalinatours.com
www.rainbowtravelcenter.com

2. I'm sorry I don't know about sim cards at the airport. They're easy to come up with in Antigua if you can wait. You'll need a new one. Even with the little phone Adrenalina gave me a few years ago when I hired them to haul my group all over I have to replace the sim card every visit; in between they give the number to someone else.

3. Laundry service - ask Olga at the school. I usually feel more comfortable with a drop-off service and the school can recommend a convenient one. Good for you for packing light!

4. You could ask the school for larger market directions but I prefer to stop in the tiny little neighborhood stores and famacias - they're all over the place so you'll find them the 1st time you explore.

5. Don't know about dental but ask on the Thorntree forum - it's come up a few times and expats post there; latina alma would know.

Happy trails! Remember to tell everyone hi from me! My July trip seems a long way off....
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Old Feb 11th, 2011, 04:43 AM
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Just as the message disappeared I realized I'd typoed "farmacia" - too late to fix it.
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Old Feb 14th, 2011, 01:36 PM
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What my decision is regarding the 6 hour layover is: Take a taxi to Zona Viva, where I can stretch my legs, get a bite to eat, deal with the sim card, hit a bank and get a supply of local currency, and catch a safe taxi from one of the better hotels there back to the airport.

The flight leaves for Flores at 6:20 p.m. I am going to check my bags on Taca when I get off the flight from the US, so I'll just have to clear security and go to the gate. How much time should I allow?
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Old Feb 14th, 2011, 04:07 PM
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No problem with drop off laundry service in Antigua. I was there in September and remember at least 3. I have used "summer", sorry I don't have the address, many times over the years. Have a fabulous time in my favorite place!
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Old Feb 14th, 2011, 04:58 PM
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Honestly, I'd still allow 2 hours; every once in awhile I read of someone being bumped from their flight. You'd probably be ok with less but....
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Old Feb 23rd, 2011, 02:56 AM
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Tipping question: my guidebook says 10% in restaurants is typical for Guatemala, but what about taxis and shuttle drivers? Also, since I am staying in private homes with families should I plan on a tip/gift/something for the family?
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Old Feb 23rd, 2011, 05:12 AM
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Hi, Lynne -
I tip small for short taxi runs and figure 10-15% for longer runs and shuttles if the service and safety is good. I wouldn't tip the family but taking small gifts is a nice idea. I like to take things that represent my home area like small books or calendars with Oregon photos, playing cards with Oregon photos, refrigerator magnets, etc. I had photo magnets of the view from our house of wildflowers, orchards, the Columbia River, and Mt. Adams made and they were a big hit - they had a hard time imagining seeing snow every day (plus they were inexpensive and small for packing). I've taken small Spanish/English dictionaries to give out, too. Since our area grows a big chunk of the world's cherries, I've taken gourmet chocolate covered dried cherries in the past, as well. I've enjoyed taking the family out for a treat, too, something many families rarely do. I'm envious you get to leave so soon!!
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Old Feb 23rd, 2011, 01:45 PM
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Thanks Stacey, with no time to shop, I will take my family out for a treat. Sounds fun and something they would enjoy.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2011, 01:56 PM
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One more thing - in whatever time you have before you leave, grab up a bunch of photos of your family, home, pets, town, friends, etc. Great conversation starters with hosts and teachers!
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Old Feb 23rd, 2011, 02:49 PM
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Hi Lynne,

I am jealous too. I want to chime in about gifts for the family. I took stickers, little notebooks, highlighters, pencils, etc. in case the family had kids. My family had three daughters and the girls loved them. I caught myself going out and buying more little things like that for them on my way home from school each day.

If you have a deck of UNO cards to take with you it is a nice ice-breaking game to play with the kids and parents if they want to play. We played at both our homestays in Antigua and San Pedro la Laguna.

Our family loved ice cream. We took the kids out for ice cream a couple of times and brought the mom back her favorite. The last night there we bought pizza and soda for the family and a cake for dessert. It was a treat for all.

Whatever you do the family will be appreciative. I honestly think in the Maya culture it is the thought that counts. Have a great time and take lots of notes. I can't wait to hear about your trip.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2011, 03:12 PM
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Okay, I will see what I can pack into my incredibly busy day tomorrow (I leave Friday at 6 am). All great ideas. I have UNO and have lots of photos on my IPAD that I'm taking with me and will round up a few ohotos. Thanks a bunch for all the help.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2011, 05:21 PM
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Hi, Carla - more good ideas!

Just a side note - 2009 I played "Dos", a Guatemalan version of "Uno" with the teenagers in my host family in Antigua. ;-)
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Old Feb 24th, 2011, 07:58 AM
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Hi Stacey,

Actually that is what we played too. I couldn't find UNO in Guatemala but did find DOS in a store in Antigua. We played with the pre-teen boy in Antigua who was also staying in our homestay. Then in San Pedro we played with the family and the girls enjoyed the game so much I left the cards with them.
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Old Feb 24th, 2011, 08:53 AM
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The big hit in my host family in San Pedro was Twister - I have a little keychain version I pack along. The family had 4 little boys and a wild time was had by all.
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