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traveling to GC in July

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Mar 10th, 2008, 04:59 PM
  #1
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traveling to GC in July

HI. I am travleing to Guatemala City with my 13 year old daughter this July (2008) on a trip to meet the young girl we sponsor through our church. The official trip is one week long and I want to add a few days at both ends of the trip to explore. We've traveled to far reaching places (New Zealand, NYC) and I have traveled to Peru and Europe, so I am feeling comfortable enough...but any cautions that you would alert me to? We will be spending about 5 days at the Hermano Pedro Regional Center in San Lucas Toliman visiting with our sponsored family.
Any suggestins for before and after trip activities in Gautamela City or day trips? I am wondering how much time to allow on either side of my tour dates?
Thanks in advance. The photos that were posted really have my wander lust in full gear... Diane
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Mar 11th, 2008, 06:43 AM
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I have spent very little time in Guatemala City, always choosing to "get the heck out of Dodge". The main tourist places are Antigua, Lake Atitlán, maybe a visit to a Thursday or Sunday (preferred for the extra church festivities), and Tikal to the north. They're all wonderful and easily accessed, though Tikal requires flights unless you want to spend 10 hours on a bus each way (night buses available). If you can let me know just what days of the week, the number of days, and your general budget level I'd be happy to give specific opinions about what I'd do in your position.

My travelogue from last summer is with the Guatemala 2007 photo collection linked below; we visited the places mentioned above and others plus spent a week each in 2 Spanish schools. If you can squeeze more time away from home, that would be a fabulous option, by the way. Happy trails!

http://flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections
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Mar 11th, 2008, 12:03 PM
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Thanks for the advice. We have our time accounted for from Satuday July 12 through Sunday July 19. My thought was to arrive early, possibly July 8 and stay after our return from the mission until July 23 or 25th giving us giving us 4 days prior to and 4-6 days following our trip out to the mission. Any ideas or guidance is so greatly appreciated. Our budget is pretty open at htis point, since I am not sure waht food and lodging costs...figuring on $50-$75 a day I am thinking would provide us with a enriching experience.The idea of a Spanish school would be oh-so-cool.
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Mar 11th, 2008, 12:27 PM
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Hello again-
Is the end date of your mission part Saturday the 19th or Sunday the 20th?
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Mar 11th, 2008, 07:26 PM
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The end date is Saturday 7/19. I think we arrive back in Guatemala City on Fridya afternoon.
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Mar 11th, 2008, 09:05 PM
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Could you "bow out" Friday and stay the night in Panajachel instead of Guatemala City?

Here's an example of what I might do if I was in your position:

Fly to GUA on the 9th and head straight to Antigua from the airport; shuttles are $10 each or a taxi ride for both to your hotel is $25-30 depending on your negotiating skills. We stayed at Casa Cristina and loved it, rooms are small but clean, real hot water, great location, secure, free coffee/tea/purified water/internet, owners bend over backwards to be helpful, $25/night double. http://www.casa-cristina.com/

Fly to Flores on Thursday, shuttle or taxi to Tikal, stay in the park for one night, head into the ruins after 3:30 so your ticket is also good for the next day. We stayed at the Tikal Inn, huge rooms, nice pool, $75/double including dinner and breakfast.
http://tikalinn.com/

Friday morning hit the ruins early, maybe do a sunrise tour, check out, shuttle or taxi to Flores. It's a quaint little town crammed onto a tiny island in a big, beautiful lake. We stayed at La Casona de la Isla, smallish rooms, great location, view, restaurant, small pool, helpful staff, $52/double.
http://www.corpetur.com/english/hotels.htm#1

Saturday am take a taxi to the airport for an early flight back to GUA to meet up with your group.

12th-18th with your mission group.

Friday the 18th when the group heads out, you head to Panajachel for 1 or 2 nights, touristy but great food and the best shopping in Guatemala according to many of us. We stayed at Mario's rooms which is in guidebooks but not on the internet yet; call to book ahead, small, clean rooms, perfect location, in room safes, secure, free internet and purified water.

If you want to be a bit adventurous head to Chichi for Saturday night to watch the market set up, check out church and market scenes on Sunday morning and head to Antigua before the day trippers show up in force. That's what we did in August and it was perfect for us (though we headed north instead of south). We stayed at the funky, safe, Hotel Girón in a great location, $16/night double since we called instead of using the booking site in the link.
http://www.sailing-diving-guatemala....ron-photos.htm

OR...stay a 2nd night in Panajachel and on Sunday you could do a day trip to the Chichicastenango market, (don't miss the gorgeous produce market in the commercial building),
ending up in Antigua Sunday night, meet up with school folks to find your homestay.

Nights of the 20th through the 25th stay with a host family and attend a Spanish school in Antigua. It's not the best immersion environment due to so many tourists but it's really lovely, there are some excellent schools, and there are a ton of fun things to do in the area including climging a volcano. You'd each have 1-on-1 tutors for 3 or 4 hours/day and the school would help set up activities in the area.

Saturday the 26th shuttle or taxi to the airport and fly home.

Sounds like a BLAST to me. Happy trails!

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Mar 12th, 2008, 06:31 AM
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OK, I slept on it and have realized that it makes much more sense to do the week of Spanish school FIRST so you'll be able to communicate better during your mission week and practice. Any chance you could fly into GUA on Sunday the 6th? You could arrange an airport pickup by the school and spend your 1st week adventuring and studying around Antigua, enjoy your mission week more with a more Spanish under your belt, stay in Pana, visit Chichi, fly to Tikal Sunday afternoon or Monday morning for a night, Flores for a night, and fly to GUA early the next morning in time for your departing flight on. Plan B! Happy trails!
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Mar 14th, 2008, 11:56 PM
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THanks so much...you've given me great ideas and the spanish imersion is top of the list. Do you have the name of a reliable school? I will also check on the Internet. thaks so much for your time in helping us out. Diane
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Mar 15th, 2008, 04:31 AM
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If you weren't already spending a week of your trip on Atitlán I'd say the Cooperativa school www.cooperativeschoolsanpedro.com in San Pedro La Laguna - maybe for another trip. The www.guatemala365.com site lists schools and recommendations and has good information but reviews only a small group of schools and they haven't added to their list for years. You can also check out www.123teachme.com which has good links but you need to take the reviews with a grain of salt.

I don't think Antigua is the greatest immersion environment but you'll have each other anyway so it will already be easy to "cheat" and speak English. The town is really lovely, there are interesting things to see and do, and many excellent established schools.
Our family has a longish history with Guatemala: my husband and I 1st visited in '87 and returned in '89 to bring home our son Carlos who was 4 at the time. We've returned several times since and our other son spent a few months there last year on a Global Youth Connect trip, serving as an international observer for elections in tiny highland villages and working in community health. There were no interpreters for the group so he went down 3 weeks ahead of the group to brush up his Spanish. He studied at the Academia de Español Antigüeña www.spanishacademyantiguena.com which was excellent - that's where I'd study if I went to Antigua for school. It has excellent ratings for staff and homestays and good activity arrangements.

If you become a language school addict like I am I have recommendations in other places as well. Keep me posted! Happy trails!
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