L. Atitlan Questions - Guatemala first timer #2 (hosts, spanish, banditos)
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Feb 9, 2012 1:02 PM Last Post By: phillyfan
Feb 7, 2012 2:53 PM
L. Atitlan Questions - Guatemala first timer #2 (hosts, spanish, banditos)hey there, it is me again :)
so after our first two nights in Antigua we want to make it to San Pedro La Laguna.
The plan is to take the 6am shuttle to Pana and get on a boat to San Pedro.
It will be a Tuesday and that might leave us (if we leave for Antigua again on Sunday, maybe with the chicken bus) 3, maybe 4 days for studying some spanish, relax near the lake, do some hiking, maybe kayak or horse ride, experience maya culture.. seems like this place has plenty wonderful stuff to choose from.
First I was hoping to visit a spanish school and stay in a family. I have also contacted several schools, of which the cooperativa seems highly recommended. I have asked them for 3 day/night course/stay some days ago, but for some reason it was about the same price as staying for a whole week. Plus registration fee. I understand (esp. with the cooperativa) that the money will be given to good cause, but being on a tight budget I was hoping for a more reasonable priced solution. Also, I am wondering if we could just show up in San Pedro and find us a family ourself (with bad spanish and creative hands maybe) for some nights? Maybe we could also find a good teacher ourselves that we can pay directly? What would you recommend?
One other concern of mine seems the robbery situation. I love exploring areas on foot, but it seems it might not be the best idea to do it on your own. Are there any specific areas outside San Pedro these days we should avoid on our own and others that are usually ok? Or should we be okay, as long as we leave the camera etc in the room and only bring little cash and much water? I was hoping to hike abit up some mountain and maybe boat to some neighbour village and walk back...
Any advice is highly appreciated!
Thank you very much,
Feb 7, 2012 6:40 PM
1The reason the cost is similar is because they won't be able to offer that teacher or homestay for the week to anyone else; you'd basically be reserving the service for a few days but blocking out the week. You'd be able to find a spot in some school in town, I'm sure - the quality and popularity vary. I wouldn't recommend just showing up and trying to find a homestay on your own with poor Spanish.
Since you asked, I'd recommend arranging for afternoon classes at the Cooperativa and studying Tuesday - Friday, 4 days, and staying with a host family through Sunday morning; you'd get in on most of the week's activities as well. Even if you have to pay the full week price it would be worth it for the quality of instruction and the cultural interaction imo. That Cooperativa garden is my favorite place on earth other than my own home. Have a good trip, whatever you decide!
Feb 8, 2012 5:52 AM
Feb 8, 2012 8:43 AM
3The only place where robberies are a real ongoing issue is an isolated stretch of the road leading from SP to Santiago. There have been one or two reports in the last few years of folks getting their camera grabbed in other spots like up near Santa Clara (walking to the Indian Nose), but these are extremely rare and seem to never involve actual violence.
The walk up to the volcano is now totally policed and safe, though it's just as easy to do it with a local guide. Another great walk is between San Marcos and Tzununa and then on to Santa Cruz (a few hours), then boat back to San Pedro... generally considered very safe as well though as always it's best to go out with not many belongings. Really would be a shame to not bring the camera though... or at least a backup!
As for staying with a family, it's not a bad idea to show up and get a hotel for a couple of days and ask around, the town is used to folks wanting this and you'll find lots of options. If you're serious about learning Spanish, try to stay away from the tourist area and hang out in the upper part (though keep in mind that some of the older folks might speak even less than you).
Feb 8, 2012 4:28 PM
Feb 9, 2012 12:34 PM
5San Pedro Spanish School (sanpedrospanishschool.com) is a beautiful place, and the owner is a great guy. The town itself is lovely and I felt perfectly safe. The volcano walk is kind of cool - the guide would'nt take us to the top, so I and a few others decided to do it ourselves, and get a later ride back. I've been in places where I didn't feel safe (including in NYC), and I never felt unsafe in Guatemala. It is beautiful - you'll love it.
Feb 9, 2012 1:02 PM
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