A quick note about where I am right now: I’m living in San Pedro, a small town on Lake Atitlan and have been here for almost three months, with day trips to the nearby towns, including Antigua.
Three months is a LONG TIME considering I planned to see all of Central and South America by this summer (which is not going to happen, by the way), so why haven’t I moved on?
Three big reasons:
First, the living is easy. The Guatemalan Quetzal is currently trading with the US Dollar at 8:1, which means I can get the fanciest dinner in town for less than $10. Cocktails run from $1-3 before any specials or happy hour (seriously, $1.25 for a mojito loaded with fresh mint… how can you not?!), and my hotel room is $3 per night. See below for what that gets you.
¡Segundo, porque yo no hablaba español! San Pedro has a large gringo population which helps when your Spanish… needs help. There are a dozen Spanish Schools offering one-on-one instruction with prices ranging from $65-$110 (USD) per 20 hour week. I found a couple great teachers my second week here, and have been banging my head against the various tenses with mixed results ever since. Once you’re comfortable speaking Spanish, you can still drop by Gringolandia (as it’s known) to replenish your English, your drinking, your Hollywood movie, and your non-Guatemalan dietary needs.
Third, a picture from 5:30 in the morning this past Sunday, stepping out onto the balcony of my $3/night hotel room:
Click on the photograph to see it in better detail.
Not to say that there aren’t problems to be found here (the local Cocodes, the roving packs of dogs howling all night, and the roosters that can’t tell time to name but a few), but the pluses definitely outweigh the minuses. I’ll be sad to leave.