San Predro, Guatemala: More than a party town

Hey girl hey! I’m here to share my travel experiences with you. I grew up in a small village in the south of the Netherlands, which has always been to small for me. On my nineteenth I went London for an internship, where I lived in a hostel. I was so fascinated by all the people I met who where traveling around the world, I wanted to be just like them. Now -10 years later- I’ve been to over 40 countries and I am currently looking for a new home in South America. My biggest dream is to start my own hostel. In this blog I will share all my adventures from San Pedro in Guatemala! – XOXO Kris

San Pedro, Guatemala: More than a party town

There are different ways to get to Lake Atitlan from the city. You can take a bus to Panajachel and take the boat from there, or you can take a long bus ride trough the mountains (you will probably get car sick). Once you arrive in San Pedro, it is really easy to visit other villages by boat for 2-3$. When I arrived I was surprised that the native language was’t Spanish. Although most people speak Spanish, the native language is a Mayan language, of which I believe there are around 20 different ones in Guatemala. I rarely do research before I start traveling. I feel when you look up everything beforehand, you might get disappointed, where as if you go in blank, most places are full of surprises. I had no idea how beautiful Guatemala is and that around 40% of the people are indigenous, they fill up the streets with color!

San Pedro sits on a hill, the bottom at the lake is called ‘gringo town’. Here you can find most of the bars and restaurants and the streets are crowded with hippie street venders. Restaurants at the lake front have an amazing view over the lake and the impressive mountains. My favorite restaurant, La terraza, had a delicious frappuccino. I did not go out to eat often, because meals were included in my stay. But on Sundays I loved to go to Zoola where I would just sit on a pillow and eat some delicious food. They have a bar in the back with a pool, but it does’t look very inviting.

If you want to party, Hostel Fe is the hostel you want to be. They have a bar across the road. You can jump of terrace onto an air pillow and the person on the pillow gets launched into the air. This looks not safe at all, just go and watch other people get stupid. For clubbing, Sublime is the place to go. Go there during happy hour to score cheap drinks, get drunk and party the night away. After the bar closed I always went home, but they have an inside club that opens. If you talk to enough people you will probably end up at a house party and do some coke.

But I didn’t come here to party, I came to learn Spanish. I did this at Cooperativa Spanish School, where you study in the garden and all the lessons are one on one. Unless you come with a partner, then it’s possible to take lessons together. Guatemala is probably the cheapest place to learn Spanish and Guatemalans naturally speak slow and without any strong accent; the perfect place to learn Spanish. I took morning classes for 5 hours, 5 days a week, stayed with a family and got three meals a day for only 230$. I have to say that 5 hours is a bit long, 4 hours would probably be enough.

Before you start learning Spanish, think about what you want to learn. I had 3 weeks of grammar and by the end of it I could barely speak Spanish. This has noting to do with the quality of the school or my teacher. Everyones learns in different ways, so if you want to get the most out of your Spanish lessons think about how you learn best and communicate this with your teacher. The grammar has given me a good base and now I know how to use words and speak Spanish correctly. I took two more weeks of Spanish in Antigua and with that teacher I mostly practiced speaking.

My teacher in San Pedro was a nice and funny indigenous 25-year-old girl. She taught me a lot about the culture in San Pedro and the relationship between men and women. She was quite the feminists (even though I could not really explain the word to her). Her husband would not allow her to visit the Mayan temples in Tikal. She is secretly saving money to go and she told her husband ‘I don’t care if you leave me when I come back’. Before women weren’t allowed to work, now a lot of woman work but have to cook, take care of the kids plus household without the help of their husband.

I really enjoyed staying with the family, the mom was so sweet! She is just a super cute, small lady; for the first time in my life I was tall! Most indigenous people came up to my shoulder or a bit above. The family consisted out of a mother, daughter of 15, daughter of 12, grandpa who was mostly in his own room and the dad I never saw, he is a priest and he was working somewhere else.

The family was very patient with my non existing Spanish. The oldest daughter spoke a bit of English, so she could translate for me. By staying at a family you can really practice your Spanish after school. You get to see how people live and learn so much about their culture. On the last day I bought them a cake. I went to de bakery and wrote down all the information. My name, the time I would pick it up, the price we agreed on. When I picked it up my name was written on the cake, this confirmed I still had a lot to learn…

Activities in and around San Pedro. I took a boat to San Marcos this is a little hippie town. The food at ll Giardion is really good and veggies only, yay. There are a lot of cute restaurants with great food. Go to the trampoline and jump of the cliff at 7m high, it is really fun! A bit further down you can chill on the rocks and rope swing yourself into the water, the entrance is a dollar or so. In the weekend you can stroll trough the markets of Santiago.

Me and my friend got up around 3.00 AM to go to Indian Nose. With our tour operator we went on a bus to the mountain and we hiked of a bit, max one hour. On the mountain we watched the sunrise. This was so special an beautiful! There are many tour operators in San Pedro, you will find them in gringo town.

Go to Panamachel for a bit of action! There is a beautiful park where you can zipline, they offer three different heights, we took the lowest one. Mostly because the hike up is quite though for a #unfitgirl. I was nervous before going but it is sooo much fun! You can look over the lake when you’re sliding down to the other side. I felt kinda bad ass for doing it. Compared to other countries it is really cheap, I think we paid around 35$.

San Pedro is a safe place, everyone is quite friendly. After dark the streets get empty but I haven’t experienced or heard anything bad going on. The only thing you need to watch out for are the dogs, there are many. These dog are not so friendly especially in small allies. I almost got attacked, it was super scary. Luckily I did not get bitten. A friend of mine got chased by dogs when coming home drunk form a party. Just keep an eye out, and you will be totally fine in San Pedro.


Top 3 Activities

Indian Nose

Indian Nose

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Party at Sublime

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Take boat trips around the lake

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Top 3 Restaurants


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La terraza 

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Travalas Friendly        

Travalas friendly 

Favorite travel quote

‘Never stop doing things for the first time’

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