Guatemala; the Good and the Not So Good!
It’s been exactlly a week since I came back from a 5 day trip to Guatemala. Here are some of the good and the not so good things that happened over there!
The trip’s first intention was to go to Antigua in Easter Week so we could watch the activities around this holly event. We wanted to look at what happens in the processions and take a peek at the colors and movements of masses. It is a cultural activity that takes place to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus in Christianity. Guatemala has a strong cultural and religious sense towards this event and make a beautiful event that commemorates it.
Either way, my sister and I (first time traveling with her alone), started our week at Lake Atitlán.
As soon as we got there we got a van that took us to Antigua, where we ate lunch and waited for the next van that would take us to the Lake.
It was a rather dangerous ride though. People over there drive very dangerously. The ride was about 3 hours long on a mountain side with lots of complicated turns. The guy probably didn’t go slower than 120kph and passed other cars at the curves, while taking on the phone. There was even a moment when the bags above the van loosened and we thought they were going to fall! Everyone was so nervous but nobody said anything. My sister didn’t stay quiet and went over to him and told him to stop and check. The guy didn’t stop talking on the phone, but basically yelled at her because he said there was no place to stop on the highway! *there were many places to stop on the highway*.
These are some of the views I framed on the shuttle ride of Antigua:
When he finally did, everyone took a deep breath and checked their pulse. He said everything was fine and got in. Everything started over again. My reaction was just to laugh at the idea that maybe we were all going to die so, hey! At least enjoy the ride!
We arrived at Panajachel with hearts beating, but blessed to being alive and kicking. Panajachel is the small town at the lake where everything happens: there’s stores, restaurants, and lots of people selling and buying stuff. Here’s where you can get a boat to the other towns around the lake where you might be staying at. We didn’t want to stay long to look at all of what the town has to offer yet because out hostel was on the horizon and we needed a place to rest after that life endangering experience.
Finally got a boat and drifted off to the Glamping Hostel we were staying at.
Before I mention the name and you get excited to go there, I must warn you, we did not have a good service from the start. Let me tell you the story:
We had booked two months in advance, excited to know that when we go there we were going to have a 4 person tent only for ourselves to be sure and able to sleep whenever we wanted to. This was not the case. We go to the counter, looking around and happy to see all these people walking around with smiles on their faces and having a beautiful view of the lake in front.
Well, when we checked in, they started saying that our reservation wasn’t on their system! We had flown and driven all the way there not to have our reservation!? Even when in HostelWorld.com we’d received our confirmation!? No, no, wait a sec. So, my sister started getting a bit angry. The manager came and started telling us that they didn’t have any space, that the only thing they could do was pay a bout ride to San Pedro so we could find another place to stay, that they had overbooked and there was nothing to do. WHAT?! 5pm, on the most crowded place to be in Latin America at the time and we had to rush and look for another place? Nop.
We were so surprised to this that we didn’t know how to react. We told the guy to manage and do something about it because we were not leaving. So they said we could wait and they’ll try to get us a spot for the night and that they wouldn’t charge us for the food nor breakfast. At the end of the day my sister got a bed on one of the tents and I had to sleep on the terrace (on the left side of the image above, by the stairs), on a cold night. It does get very cold at the Lake. I made myself a cave with the mattresses and got lucky enough to witness a red sunrise.
Anyway, the glamping experience was nice, and actually you do meet a lot of people, but if you do find yourself wanting to go to this place, be ware that there are many stories like ours, and even worse. One of the groups of girls were charged 1000 Quetzales (142 dollars) if they wanted a new tent to be put for them, even if they had booked like us for a normal night. The guy said that if they put a positive review on booking, they wouldn’t charge 1000Q, but only the normal cost of the night (literally buying reviews). They did, and slept on a tent, not on a terrace, buy with no electricity inside. Only if you are a group of cute, single and outgoing group of girls you probably will be treated right, that’s what it seemed to all of the other groups of people at least.
I won’t name the place, you can look for it if you want to.
The next couple of days at the lake we chilled out on the Hostel and also went San Marcos La Laguna, a hippie-ish town to explore.
Very local, very colorful. We went back to Panajachel because there were lots of cheap prices and interesting things to take back home. I even bought myself a poncho! *Probably won’t even use any where here in Costa Rica, but oh well.. I love it.*
These two days we tried to relax a lot. I’ll leave some of the shots of the things we did and also had the opportunity of taking pictures around the place with amazing people I got to know. Thank you very much for the girls that helped me do some of these ideas I had in mind! Go follow @nataliaanjaphotography on instagram and @allydondanville!
Following up these days we headed to Antigua, the colorful UNESCO World Heritage site to a Hostel called Curucuchos Boutique Hostel. This hostel though is beautiful. Service: 100, Location: 100, place itself: 100. A must if you’re staying in Antigua.
The center is a beautiful place. As they tell you, everything in Antigua happens on the other side of the walls. It is a very horizontal town, with big wooden doors everywhere. You would never even imagen what’s inside those walls until you get the chance of entering.
Las Capuchinas Church and Nunnery is one of the many examples of these amazing preserved structures that you wouldn’t imagine have this scale from outside. Definitely a must to go check out.
The activity we were set to go experience, the Easter Week Processions. First, the images.
As you might see from the images, the activities are very unique. The rugs on the floor are made from colored sawdust, and the designs are planned out and perfectly executed in the middle of the streets of the town. Each design is different and all of them are blessed by the procession when they walk around the streets. People then collect the flowers and the things that are placed on the rugged as a blessing! It’s so interesting to see how it happens!
The processions are taken place at different hours and from different churches. Some are only women carrying the installations, others, only men, and others only young children. You see how the whole city gathers around and moves with the people walking along the streets. Crowds and crowds move along the streets with bands playing behind the procession and there’s lot of smoke from the incense they carry.
Places to go:
If you want to eat THE BEST PUPUSAS in all central America, go to Yzote Kapé in 4th street beside the Cacao Museum. For as cheap as 25Q you get to choose 2 pupusas and a drink. Get the Orchata. You will not regret it at all, I promise. Tell her that some Ticos recommended them to try the best pupusas ever, I promise she’ll smile a lot. Her name is Evelyn.
Mercado de las Artesanías:
The Artisan Market is a must too. There’s plenty of locally crafted souvenirs you can buy and bargain. They generally say a price, but if you are smart, you can lower the price until you find it reasonable. There’s plenty of colors too. The only downside is that they’ll keep telling you that it’s a dollar for the pictures taken. You just say, “yeah, thank you” and keep moving as if it wan’t with you.
One of the many Markets where you’ll find a lot of souvenirs and it’s not as small as the Market. You’ll find masks and handcrafted things too. I think it’s a must as you’re walking along the Santa Catalina Arch. Go check it out!
Look for this Café. It´s a small café along the street, but it´s so good you’re going to want to keep going every time! The coffee is delicious and the small pastry that they do is amazing! My sister got a tea for herself and I got a double expresso with a strawberry tart. She even told me to slow down on the munching! It almost finish it in 0.5 seconds. IT WAS SO GOOD.
Taquería Doña Lupita:
Holly Jesus the Lord. If you don’t go to this taco place, you will not discover anything about Antigua. I will just leave it to you to try, but… GO. I promise, it’s the best thing you’ll do all day.
I must say I really was impressed about everything that Antigua and the Lake have to offer, yet there’s many things I still want to get to know about this place. Next time I want to hick a couple of volcanoes and look at the views of Volcan de Fuego active as it is.
I hope this guide can help you out a little bit more when planning your trip to Guatemala! There’s many other things to talk about that I found interesting, like the busses, the people, so on and so on. You can always reach me out to talk about these things on my instagram @lightsaint or on my facebook page!
Have you been to Guatemala? What other places did you find interesting? Let me know on the comments below!
I’ll leave a small gallery of the images I didn’t post!