A Travellerspoint blog

Feliz Cumpleaños with our Guatemalan Family

Happy Birthday to Max

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Max has been awaiting his 14th birthday for a while now in anticipation of it happening on our trip. It was to be in San Pedro a small community on the shores of the beautiful Lake Atitlan. We have been in San Pedro for close to a week taking Spanish classes in a great community run language school. The program also includes a homestay with a local Guatemalan family.


Our Guatemalan family has been amazing. The family is made up of Luis, Anita, with grown up children Bryan and Herman and their 13 year old daughter Edith. A strong, proud and generous Mayan family that has this homestay business down pat. We get three meals a day, desayuno (breakfast - usually eggs and black beans with fresh tortillas), almuerzo (lunch and the largest meal of the day with tortillas), and cena (dinner) which is usually something smaller - like a soup with tortillas). Muchos tortillas! Anita is an incredible cook and we are definitely being spoiled. Personally my language skills are horrible and dinner usually involves me using copious hand gestures and basically playing charades all evening. Often we call on Zack (also known as Google translate) to help us share our thoughts.


We wanted to do something special for Max and suggested getting a piñata, a cake and inviting some of the little neighbourhood children to celebrate with us. Max will never forget this birthday. The local kids came with small gifts and hugged and kissed Max as they presented them to him. The kids took turns hitting the piñata and sharing in the many candies stuffed within it. In typical North American fashion we stuffed the piñata much more full than they normally do which created quite a frenzy among the children, the mothers and grandmothers. It was a blast with all getting into the spirit. I can't emphasize how incredibly kind, welcoming and generous the Guatemalan people are. They have known us less than a week and have already welcomed us into their homes and our hearts. It was quite humbling for them to give Max gifts including a beautiful locally crafted scarf.


We ordered a cake, Anita made some extra treats and all sang Feliz Cumpleaños to Max. They also tricked him into sticking his face into the cake and we all had a great laugh about that. Amazing country, amazing people and a birthday that will never be forgotten.

Posted by fishonyukon 20:24 Archived in Guatemala Comments (1)

Lake Atitlan - Post by Hillarie

Ah, how I love you!

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We have moved on from Antigua to Lake Atitlan where we are spending the next week. We have enrolled in a local language school and are staying with a family. The school is wonderful and gives a portion of its profits to local disadvantaged families. The family we are staying with is lovely and includes the mom, dad and three kids. We enjoy eating all of our meals with the family and are getting a taste of local life. The view from the house is truly spectacular!


Lake Atitlan is said to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. There are many small communities scattered around the lake. So far, we have visited 5 of them. The small pueblos are a mixture of Mayan culture, tourists from around the world, basketball courts, churches, markets, and very narrow winding streets. Life here is a unique blend of chaotic and tranquil. Basketball is strangely popular here, with sparkling outdoor courts in the center of town.


We are spending our days learning Spanish, walking the narrow streets, playing basketball and enjoying the views over the lake. It's a tough life!!


Posted by fishonyukon 10:55 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Goooooooooooooallll! - A post by Dennis

Soccer under a volcano

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Whenever we travel we are on the hunt for sporting events. Whether baseball, cricket, soccer or sumo, the Zims are usually game. A few years ago in Ecuador we tried for 3 months to hit a soccer game with limited success. We could never figure out the schedule, too expensive, details always changed or we were given incorrect information.

Fortunately in Antigua, our language teacher Lucy let us know that there was a 1st division national league game in Antigua and it would just be 30-40 Guatemalan quetzales ($3-6 CDN). We were so in. Number #2 ranked Antigua FC vs. the poorly ranked Xena FC.


The stadium was set within the backdrop of a volcano and a 15 minute walk from our hostel. The fans were dressed in their local colours, chanting, flags, tacos, and firecrackers. What you would expect from a Latin American country.


It was a great game, complete with goals, riot police, many dramatic dives, penalty shots, and a full suite of uniquely Guatemalan flavour. A great way to spend the afternoon with Antigua winning 3-1.

Posted by fishonyukon 08:03 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Orange Alert in Antigua - post by Hillarie

How are the locals acting?

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As I drank my coffee at breakfast yesterday morning, I noticed the tourists at our hostel grabbing their cameras and talking excitedly among themselves about the volcano. We had been watching this particular volcano for days as it periodically had mini-eruptions. I couldn't see what was going on, but thought that I would wonder to the balcony and take a peak. What I saw, made me a little nervous. This was not a mini-eruption; it was massive!


As I was standing there drinking the last bit of my coffee, I was thinking to myself "should we be worried?". I looked around at the other tourists wondering if we should do something? Should we ask someone if this is ok? Should we be evacuating? But then I looked down on the busy Antiguan street. Life was going on as normal. No one was concerned. Moms and dads, children and grandparents were all going about their day as they do everyday.

So, we decided to go about our day. We went and had more coffee. We even saw a soccer game (another post to follow on this).

When we returned that afternoon from the game, I opened my email to an alert from the Canadian Government. It read - Recommendation is to avoid proximity to those affected areas (which included Antigua). It told us to notify our family and friends about our safety. Wow, maybe this is a big deal. So I googled "Fuego volcano Guatemala". Top headline - Guatemala volcano ERUPTION: Antigua in danger as Volcan de Fuego spews lava and ash.

Funny - Antigua definitely didn't seem in danger. No one even flinched here. We were told it is a normal occurrence. "It happens a couple of times a month", is what the front receptionist said.

Anyway, all is good here. It was exciting morning entertainment for us. Something we will remember about our trip. And life goes on as normal all around us.

Posted by fishonyukon 18:04 Archived in Guatemala Comments (1)

Buses of Guatemala - post by Hillarie

From North American school bus to Guatemalan people mover

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In Guatemala, American school buses find their second, more interesting life. They go from mundane school bus duties to dressed up people movers. They look like they are dressed up to go to a fiesta, with their bright colours and flashing lights. Step on these buses and you enter the real Guatemala. Guatemalans take these buses everywhere. And it definitely isn't just two to a seat on these buses here in Guatemala. Those North American rules just don't apply here! It is not at all unusual to have double the posted maximum number of passengers allowed crammed into the bus. These buses are truly "magic school buses" here!


Posted by fishonyukon 08:40 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

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