Monday, March 8, 2010

Travel Tips

I´ve started to notice that I am getting some hits from other backpackers out on the road, so I thought I would put in a little traveler info that someone might find useful.


We stayed at a guesthouse called the White Home (according to the sign) and known as Casa Blanca to the locals.  The woman who runs it does not live on site, so unless you are lucky to catch her there (which was usually in the afternoons), just call the number on the sign.  She only lives a few blocks away.  I´m sure cost varies seasonally and maybe depending on which room you get (we had one of two that open up into the main courtyard) but we paid 500Q for two people for a week.  The bathrooms are shared, and the back shower get the hottest, but even so with the chill in the air I found it best to shower in the afternoons when it was warmer.  The kitchen has a fridge (that you may have to plug in to use) and plenty of pots and pans.  We even had a TV in our room and a bigger one in a common room.  Nothing fancy, but comfortable and easy, and Dona Blanca was delightfully friendly.

For spanish school we went to INEPAS, which was a good school that went out of their way to accomodate our requests for specific exursions in the afternoons.  (which were terrific and cheap.)  Maria, who runs the school, is a force.  She doesn´t speak any english (only spanish and french), but somehow is able to get across the important stuff. David really liked his teacher Gloria.

San Pedro on Lake Atitlan:

This is a very easy place to stay of course.  But our school recommended a great little hotel called Hotel Peneleu, which is up the street from the Santiago dock.  Look for the signs to the Hotel San Francisco and it is just up from there on a side street to the left. We were lucky and got one of the two penthouse rooms, so our room opened up onto a rooftop terrace with a terrific view of the lake.  Best of all for two of us we paid just 50Q a night.  Definitely nothing fancy here, but the shower was super hot and there was a hammock just outside our door (another perk of being on the roof).  The owners were very friendly and live on site.  There was a gas stove and a few pots and pans, but unless you are really stretching a budget there is no need as food is so cheap (and good) in town.

For Spanish school we went to the Cooperativa, which I think may be a bit more expensive than others, but I liked the social projects they support.  For a great teacher ask for Flory. She speaks relatively good english when pressed, and was super friendly and fun to talk to.  I paid $90 for four hours a day.

San Marcos on Lake Atitlan:

If you come here, you have to go to the Japanese restaurant for dinner.  I don´t remember the name, and it is off the beaten track so you will have to ask someone for directions.  We were a little underwhelmed with the food options in town, and this place was just great.  (And cheap!)

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