Guatemala in a Cacao Shell

By our standards we flew through Guatemala.  Only three weeks in one country and we were out of there.  Its not because we didn’t like Guatemala in fact it was kind-of the opposite. Because of the CA-4 regulations we only have 3 months to go through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.  We wont be going through Honduras so we basically gave ourselves a month in the other three countries.

In order to maximize our limited amount of time in Guatemala we decided to take Spanish classes. We had found out about an awesome school called Corazon Maya in San Pedro de la Laguna right on Lake Atitlan.  Lake Atitlan is a beautiful lake that was once a great volcano.  There are many little pueblos located around the lake, each with their own little “style”.  The nice thing about San Pedro is that you get a real feel of the Mayan culture.  The women still wear the traditional clothing and for the most part still cook traditional food.  Just like any lake community the lake takes center stage in all aspects of life. They literally pump water from the lake into water tanks on the roofs of houses and bathe right in the lake.

The beautiful Lago Atitlan

The beautiful Lago Atitlan

We were excited to get to San Pedro so, we left San Cristobal, Mexico nice and early in order to give ourselves ample time to cross the border and pull into the town of Huehuetenango in Guatemala. We had planned to spend a night there before heading into San Pedro.  It was a good thing we left early because due to two unforeseen roadblocks we ended up not pulling into Huehue until after nightfall.

Our first roadblock was on the way to the boarder and it was literally a roadblock.  We had gone 5 ½ months in Mexico without hitting a single protest and of course we had to hit our first one on the day we are leaving. I guess Mexico just couldn’t let us go without one.  Lucky for us it was short and sweet and after only one hour we were back on the road heading towards the border.

Our second roadblock occurred at the actual border.  We flew through the exiting Mexico part and were on our way to completing a border crossing in under an hour (which probably would have been some sort of record) when disaster struck.  We had completed everything, filled out every form and the agent had checked them all.  All he had to do was enter some stuff into his computer and we would be free to go.  Unfortunately we wouldn’t be free to go for another two hours.  Yep, that’s right, we went from a record 45 min border crossing to a 3 ½  hour border crossing in a matter of minutes.  We spent 2 hours just sitting there staring at the man behind the glass while he shutdown and restarted his computer about 20 times until finally his screen came to life and we were free to go.

By this time it was already 4 and we had limited daylight left.  We knew we didn’t want to stay anywhere near the border so we booked it in hopes that we could make it the 2 hours to Huehue in record time.  Well we didn’t make it all the way to Huehue before the sunset but we did make it to a gas station just outside of town where we hunkered down for the night.  Two firsts in one day: First protest and first time spending the night at a gas station.  Not to shabby.

First nights camp spot in Guatemala

First nights camp spot in Guatemala

Our view from the gas station

Our view from the gas station

We woke up after a surprisingly good nights sleep at the gas station and hit the road for San Pedro, after a detour through Huehue to try to find some Internet. When we pulled into San Pedro we were a bit lost. Our GPS maps were not good and we didn’t know exactly where the school was. We were basically making turns based on what we could remember from the Corazon Maya website.  It was difficult because there were signs for the school everywhere but no arrows to point you in the right direction.  After pulling over at our third sign I noticed some familiar faces.  I knew that Sarah and Nate from thelongwaysouth.org were in town going to Corazon Maya as well and they just so happen to be walking down the street at that moment.  We hadn’t actually met Sarah and Nate in person but we all felt like we knew one and other from reading each other’s blogs. Plus I had helped them to get Brady’s, their pooch, Health Certificate by getting them in touch with our vet in Southern California.

Corazon Maya Spanish School

Corazon Maya Spanish School

Let me tell you, they were a sight for sore eyes because Jamie and I were definitely getting tired of wandering around in the heat trying to find the school.  After a couple minutes of chatting Sarah and Nate pointed us in the right direction and within an hour we were all signed up for afternoon Spanish classes.

The volcano on the lake

The volcano on the lake

As I mentioned in the previous post we had to spend the first week and a half camping at the school but eventually we got a cabana.  It was a sweet little studio with a four-burner propane stove, bed, two tables and two chairs, with a nice little grassy front yard.  It was perfect for us after spending the last month in the 4runner.

Our little cabana

Our little cabana

We spent three fun weeks in San Pedro, learning Spanish and hanging out with our friends Sarah and Nate.  After three weeks, a close call with a turkey, making new friends for life, and a birthday we bid San Pedro farewell and set off in search of sun and sand.  We even talked our friends Sarah and Nate into making the trek out west with us.

Jamie surprised me on my birthday with a cake! Best boyfriend a girl could ask for.

Jamie surprised me on my birthday with a cake! Best boyfriend a girl could ask for.

Anybody want some chicken feet for din?

Anybody want some chicken feet for din?

On the boat ride to San Marcos

On the boat ride to San Marcos

After leaving Lago Atitlan we met up with Nate and Sarah in Antigua and spent a very special Valentines day with them.  We strolled the streets of Antigua and finished off the day with a romantic candlelit dinner.

Cheesy heart on Valentines day!

Cheesy heart on Valentines day!

Camp in Antigua

Camp in Antigua

With a long border crossing day ahead of us we limited ourselves to just 3 glasses of red wine and hit the hay early.  Next stop, sun, sand and surf in El Salvador!

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