Guatemala Local Living Trip

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Guatemala Local Living Trip

Postby jaycw » Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:57 am

Well I wrote this post last night and for some reason it didnt take so forgive me if there is a delay and this becomes a duplicate.

I was wondering if anyone has been on this trip? I understand its a new trip and only runs a couple times this year but if anyone went please let me know how it was.

I am really hoping to stay in a place thats very remote and "indigenous", I understand everywhere on earth is modernized to some point but I would really like to go somewhere thats slower, quieter and "real".

Or if anyone has been to Guatemala in or around this area and has some reviews that would be great thanks!
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Re: Guatemala Local Living Trip

Postby ballu » Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:41 pm

Haven't done this trip...but did an all over Guatemala trip with G Adventures a few years ago. We stayed for 2 nights in Jaibalito on the lake. The area is absolutely beautiful. Reading your trip itinerary I can't see you'd be disappointed.
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Re: Guatemala Local Living Trip

Postby Janice08 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 6:50 pm

I wasn't on this trip but I did do the "Western Guatemala Highlights" trip in April which included a one night homestay in San Juan. Unfortunately that trip isn't listed anymore. This is the description I posted on my trip evaluation of the homestay:

"Day 4 - Home stay in San Juan la Laguna
- We started the day off by carrying our bags about 5 blocks to the local shuttle van. Wheeled luggage is useless here - you need a backpack for the cobblestone streets. We then took the shuttle across town, got off, walked through the local marked with our packs to the chicken bus station. At the station most of us got on the bus while the guys helped to push the bus to start it. After a very bumpy, winding ride we arrived in San Juan. After lunch we had a walking tour of the town prior to dividing up for our homestays. Everyone had a different experience but all said it was worth it. The family we stayed with had 3 kids - 7, 11, 15. The two younger kids, both girls, were experienced in dealing with guests and welcomed us and entertained us. The older girl knew about as much English as I know Spanish (which isn't much) so we had fun communicating. If you choose to bring a small gift, bring something that you can do with the kids to help break the ice. I had a frisbee, which they had seen but wasn't much use in the small courtyard, and a "slinky." There weren't any stairs but I never dreamed all the things you could do with a simple dollar store toy. Some of the others had crayons and paper."

Life is definitely slower in San Juan. You'll also come to appreciate that it doesn't take a lot of "stuff" to make you happy. The family we stayed with had so little in the way of belongings yet they were content. It isn't a tourist mecca like some of the neighbouring towns. There are very few cars so most people get around on foot, bicycle or tuktuks (3 wheeled motorcycle taxis). The area around Lake Aititlan is beautiful. I would have loved to have had more time there to do some hiking or kayaking.
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Re: Guatemala Local Living Trip

Postby Janice08 » Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:09 pm

jaycw,

From the looks of things you may have waited too long to book this trip. As of a few days ago this trip isn't showing up anymore. Instead its been replaced with "Antigua Local Living" which although in the same area of the same country doesn't seem to have anything else in common. The "Guatemala Local Living," which was advertised as "one of our popular trips" or something like that, included staying with a local family in a small community and having the opportunity to share in their way of life while still having a tour leader and group to spend the days exploring with. The new trip, which G Adventures seems to have added several of this style, involves staying in a house with your entire group, including the CEO, and doing whatever you want to with your time (at your expense). For $619 in Antigua you can easily get a bed in a private room in a hostel, including breakfast, and have at least $300 for the rest of your activities. Most hostels will also help you to arrange activities. Antigua is a tourist town and won't be giving you that "slower, quieter and real" experience that you are looking for - unless you consider McDonalds "real" and being able to retreat into your private home with a bunch of other tourists "slower and quieter".

If you are still interested in the homestay, and can speak some Spanish, maybe G Adventures will give you the contact information for the co-operative in San Juan that they work with to arrange the homestays.
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Re: Guatemala Local Living Trip

Postby Janice08 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 5:51 pm

For anyone who may be interested in the "old style" local living trip in Guatemala where you stay with a local family in a smaller community, I just did something similar that may interest others. In Guatemala and Nicaragua, small Spanish Language schools abound. For under $300/week you can get 20 hours/week of 1 on 1 Spanish lessons and room and board with a local family (arranged by the school). The homestays can vary dramitically from school to school (and home to home) so read the reviews carefully and only commit to only one week at a time.

With a friend, I spent the week in Panajachel, on Lake Atitlan, in Guatemala. We attended Jabel Tinamit, a small school up on the hill away from the tourist area of the town. In the mornings we had classes from 8 until 12. After lunch the school had activitities offered or you could do your own thing. Some of the activities, like the cooking class, were great, others just okay but it depends what you are interested in. Things to do in the town include hiking, a nature reserve, biking, exploring the town, taking a chicken bus, boat, or tuk-tuk to an ajoining village, kayaking, visiting a market in town, in Solola or Chichicastentango, etc. Our homestay was with a mother and teenage daugher. Besides us, there were 3 long term boarders who were involved in volunteer projects in the area. The food was good and varied but if we wanted to eat out we just had to tell our hostess that we wouldn't be around. The teenage daugher spoke some English which did come in handy with our limited Spanish. The school we were at was very flexible with lessons. You could start or finish any day of the week or change the time of day if your teacher (or a different one) could accomodate the change.

San Pedro, another town on Lake Atitlan is a more popular place to learn Spanish with multiple schools. The bigger schools often have a better selection of activities and more students to participate in them if you are travelling by yourself. Antigua has almost as many schools as churches. There are also schools in other parts of the country.

At the end of the week my Spanish had improved dramatically, something I'm sure will come in handy on my next trip.
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