Category Archives: Guatemala

We Meet Again: Central America (Guatemala, Belize & Honduras)

So I left Colombia for Guatemala, my flight was not a direct on. It was scheduled to stop over in Miami. However, when I arrived in Miami, I found out my flight to Guatemala was cancelled. I was in line for 2 hours, finally when I got to the counter; I was put on another flight for the next day and told that because my original flight was cancelled due to bad weather, which was not their fault, I would be responsible for my hotel and expenses in Miami. How nice American Airlines, this will mark my first and last time I will travel with AA. This meant I arrived a day later than planned, the only good thing was that I met a person from Turks and Caicos, which mean that whenever I visit Turks, I have a place to stay.

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In Guatemala City I stayed at my favorite bed & breakfast – Dos Lunas Guest House – the owner, Loretta is super nice and helpful, plus the guest house is very clean, breakfast included and free transportation to and from the airport. Next morning, I took the Alamo bus to Quetzaltenango (Xela) to visit my former host family and Spanish teachers. It was great being in Xela again, for one, instead of the cold rainy weather; it was pretty warm in Xela. I met with a friend and my former Spanish teacher at my favorite café – Café Baviera. Sad, I could only spend a day in Xela, next day I left for Belize.

The journey to Belize was long but sort of comfortable with linea dorada bus – 5 hours from Xela to Guatemala City, 8.5 hours from Guatemala City to Flores (overnight bus) and 4.5 hours from Flores to Belize City. Once in Belize City, took the 12noon boat to Caye Caulker. Caye Caulker was amazing as usual – the slogan is ‘GO SLOW’. Folks start drinking the smooth coconut rum pretty early in the morning. I went on a snorkeling trip and my Belizean friend made dinner using the fish they caught – tasting :).

The snorkeling trip was amazing until the Captain got pissed off at some folks in the boat for not following instruction. The instruction was not to stand on the coral reef because it gets destroyed. Well, folks decided not to follow the instruction and the marine police issued a warning to the captain.

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So dear tourists, while you pay about $100 or a bit more to go on snorkeling trips, remember to follow instructions given to you in order to reserve these coral reef so others can enjoy them too. When you go back to your respective countries, these Belizean captain and tour companies rely on these trips to feed their families, so when you don’t follow instruction they face the risk of losing their licenses or being fined or being banned from taking tours to these areas. So be respectful of the nature.

Two days later, I made my way back to Flores so I would catch the bus to San Pedro Sula, Honduras where I’ll then transfer to La Cieba. I took the Maya del Oro bus service, they take you from Belize City to Flores for $25 (same price as other international bus service – note – chicken buses might be cheaper), it was less comfortable than linea dorada or San Juan express shuttle bus. I slept the night at Flores and took the morning bus to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, with Maya del Oro bus which was scheduled to leave at 6am but did not until almost 7am. The bus was not comfortable at all; it doesn’t worth the $42 I paid. I finally made it to La Cieba at 8.30pm.

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All decent hotels in La Cieba were filled up due to the 1st annual summit on Afro-Descendents which is the reason while I was there. At the summit, the president of Honduras, president of Costa Rica, president and ex-president of Guatemala and other top officials of Central American government were in attendance. There were over 500 persons representing 42 countries and 4 continents in attendance. I felt blessed being among talented and passionate intellectuals, activists, community organizers and persons of African descent.

I ended up staying at the Banana Republic Guesthouse, not my favorite place but I didn’t care this time around because I was at the summit for most of the time. At my last night in La Cieba, I had to jump over the fence of the hostel because the gate was looked and the person with the key was not around. It was 3am in the morning and I didn’t feel like standing on the street to wait for him to come back so jumping the fence was it.

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I stayed one night in San Pedro Sula at the amazing place called ‘La Posada B&B. I paid $14 for a dorm bed (pretty nice, just three queen size bed in a spacious room with clean bathroom), a kitchen, swimming pool, walking distance to the mall, AC in all rooms, free internet & Wi-Fi, free pick up & drop off to/from the bus terminal and free breakfast.

Well, am on my way back to the U.S. Classes starts on Tuesday.

Until my next travel

Thanks for reading my blogs throughout the summer

La Nigeriana (The Nigerian Girl)

Budget: Money Talk – Colombia 2009

Below is how money was spent for my 10 months trip across Latin America (Aug 2009 to June 2010). Colombia was the first country, then I went up to Mexico and visited Cuba. I didn’t really do a estimation of how much I should spend. I just went with the flow. Now, I’m much better in creating a budget and sticking to it. I stayed in Colombia for 4 months and took Spanish classes for 3 months at two different institutions. I also took Spanish classes at Nicaragua and Guatemala. Some countries were cheaper than others. By far, Costa Rica, Belize, Mexico and Cuba were the most expensive. Those were the countries where I had to be very strict on how I spent money. Whereas, in countries such as Honduras and Nicaragua, I could afford to pay more for better hostels, take more comfortable buses and eat at nicer places. Panama and Colombia are in the middle tier, sometimes I enjoyed ‘luxury’, other times I was careful on what I spent money on. Below, you will find a breakdown on how money was spent in general and by country/city. Oh, a good amount went towards ATM and Credit Card transaction fees.

Country Total USD Per Day (USD) Duration
Colombia $5,914.78            $53 16 Weeks
Panama $1,148         $32.8      5 Weeks
Costa Rica $294 $49 6 days
Nicaragua $1,679.29 $50 5 Weeks
Honduras $1,110.69 $26.4 6 Weeks
El Salvador $255.48 $36.5 1 Week
Guatemala $951.13 $45 3 Weeks
Belize $277 $40 1 Week
Mexico $902.54 $44 3 Weeks
Cuba $910 $65 2 Weeks
Sub Total $13,442.91
Ticket $1,490.50
Shots & other travel gears   $1,138.06  Included Backpack, medications, travel insurance e.t.c
Total $16,071.47
 *Ticket was Multi-city:First leg: Atlanta – Miami – Medellin (Colombia). Second Leg: Cartagena (Colombia) – Panama City. Third Leg: Mexico City – Havana (Cuba) – Panama City – Guatemala City. Fourth Leg: Mexico City – Houston (Texas, USA)

Colombia 2009: Aug 13 to Dec 12, 2009

Colombia USD Duration
Medellin $4,862.78 3 Months
Bogota $200 5 Days
Cali & Buenaventura $540 2 Weeks
Cartagena $312 1 Week
Total $5,914.78 4 Months
Medellin: Breakdown USD Duration
Spanish classes $1,572 7 Weeks
Home stay (2 meals per day, Laundry & Internet) $1,540 8 Weeks
Belly Dancing $103
Student Visa $150
Others (Food, Entertainment, Weekend trips, Tours, In-City transportation) $1,497.78
Total $4,862.78
Panama (Panama City, Bocas, David, Playa Las Lajas & San Blas) USD 1148
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $1,076
ATM fee $73
Costa Rica (Puerto Viejo & San Jose) USD 294
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $280
ATM fee $14
Nicaragua (Managua, Leon, San Juan del Sur, Playa Popoyo, Isla Ometepe, Corn Islands & Granada) USD 1679.29
ATM fee $86.21
Domestic Flight $171.33
Spanish class & Homestay $260
Fedex Shipment to the USA $221.83
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $939.92
Honduras (La Ceiba, San Pedro Sula, Copan, Sambo Creek, Tela) USD 1110.69
ATM fee $56.80
Other (Hostel, weekend trip, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $673.89
Room & Board $380
El Salvador (San Salvador, Playa El Tunco & Mozote) USD 225.48
ATM fee $5.48
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $250
Guatemala (Antigua, Lago Atitlan & Xela) USD 951.13
ATM fee $20.99
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $815.14
Spanish class $115
Belize (San Iganacio, Hopkins & Caye Caulker) USD 277
ATM fee $5
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $272
Mexico (Mexico City, Tulum, Merida, Oaxaca, Palenque & San Cristobal de las Casas) USD 902.54
ATM fee $10
Tour – (Chichen Itza) $35
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $857.54
Cuba (Havana, Santa Clara & Trinidad) USD 910
ATM fee $10
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $900

Getting recharged in Guatemala

I had a great time in Guatemala especially in Xela (Quetzaltenango). We stayed in Antigua for 2 days, the ‘jungle party hostel’ is great, it comes with free breakfast and hot shower. Also got a chance to see Calvin (met him in Xela 2 years ago). Next we went to Lake Atitlan where we spent 3 nights at San Pedro & one night at Panajachel then off to Xela where I spent a week and 3 days. It was great to be back in Xela – I moved in with my former host family and took Spanish classes at Celas Maya. My host family is really awesome, she did not want to accept the money I offered. She said I was part of the family but I insisted because It didn’t feel right to me to live & eat with them for free when its obvious that the family was struggling financially. I liked my Spanish classes, I’m so glad I decided to take classes – my teacher -Leti- is awesome and I not only learned Spanish, but also the history of the country, women issues and other cultural stuffs about the country I did not know.

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It felt good going to my favorite cafe – Cafe Baviera – everyday, chilling at the parque central and eating pastries from XelaPan. I also did volunteer work while in Xela. I volunteered with Hogar Temporal where I helped a group of 5 girls with their homework. It was rewarding – the kids had a lot of questions about my hair – it was very sad on my last day, saying goodbyes is not always fun, they wanted to know why I had to leave and I couldn’t give them a good reply.

Another sad thing is that I will be splitting with Josephine, we met in Bocas del Toro, Panama & went to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica together. I left her in Costa Rica because she was going to be working on some farm, we met up again in Leon, Nicaragua after about a month & traveled to Honduras, El Salvador & Guatemala together. Now I have to move on to Belize but she will be staying in Xela for another month doing volunteer work with Nuevo Horizontes (the only female shelter in the country). Que Triste! However, I hope to visit her in Germany someday.
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Again, I didn’t get the chance to visit Semuc Champye (a spectacular waterfall & pool) & another opportunity of visiting Livingston because am running out of time. Well there will always be another time. I feel recharged now – after seeing 2 countries in 2 weeks & 3 cities in Guatemala in a week, it felt good to remain in one place for a whole week and few days doing normal stuffs such as Spanish classes and volunteer work. A part of me wants to remain here for a while but time is not on my side so I will keep moving with this recharged energy and passion.

Until next time – Adios…………….

Memories of my Trip to Guatemala……

Guate08 2This was my first time in Latin America. I always wanted to learn Spanish, so going to Guatemala for me was like hitting multiple birds with one stone. I would be able to improve my Spanish; challenge myself by being out of my comfort zone; experience a different culture and rewarding myself with a graduation gift for finishing college in 4 years with a double major and with honors – magma cum laude.

I was very nervous and off course I over packed because I wanted to be prepared for every scenario. However, I didn’t check the weather so I didn’t pack for the cold. I assumed Guatemala should be a tropical country.

Even though I did my research, I was unprepared for many things that I experienced. It never occurred to me that many people would be staring at me and asking to take a picture of me or with me because they had not seen a black person before (never mind that that Guatemala have a black population). It never occurred to me that you don’t flush down toilet paper because their drainage system is weak. Oh, I never imagined Guatemala to be cold. This trip was definitely a learning experience for me.

Since I was there for almost 3 months, I had the opportunity to visit many parts of the country. I visited Antigua, Livingston, Salcaja, Chichistatenango, Lago Atitlan, Huehuetenango, Fuente Georginas, Tikal-Flores, Rio Dulce, Puerto Barrios and Champerico. By far, my favorite cities in Guatemala are Quetzaltenango, Livingston (I even went twice) and Tikal-Flores.

I met many great people (both gringos (foreigners) and locals). My host family was awesome – in fact, I stayed with them again in 2010 and 2011. Yes, my Spanish improved!

To read the original post published September 2008 by TravelBlog.Org, .