30 days in Guatemala

30 days in Guatemala

I am sadly back in London after an amazing month spent in Guatemala. It was, hands down, the best trip I’ve ever had. Firstly, I was with my best friend and, after travelling for six months on my own, it was awesome to be able to share my travel experiences with someone else. We were attached at the hip for nine weeks and miraculously didn’t have a single argument. I don’t think I could spend that much time with anyone else without murdering them.

Secondly, I took this trip as a true “holiday”. I only worked the bare minimum, and really gave myself time to relax and appreciate the country and time with my bestie.

Finally, Guatemala itself is beautiful. The people are incredibly friendly and welcoming, the places we visited were stunning, and it’s so affordable to the point that I’m questioning why I would ever live elsewhere. We were staying with an awesome group of people (mostly students) in a homestay, and formed some spectacular new friendships. Despite numerous warnings prior to my arrival, I never once felt unsafe – even when I indulged in some fairly risky behaviours, like walking around at 4am by myself.

I already wrote about my time in San Pedro La Laguna

san pedro2

… and Semuc Champey, which I still maintain is one of the most beautiful places on earth, almost completely untouched by tourists.

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The majority of our time, however, was spent in Antigua. Now, I’m not going to lie about what we did in those 22 days in Antigua. There are volcanoes to climb, churches to visit, museums to explore and look-out points to hike – we did none of that. We were there to relax, salsa dance, and go out. And our goals were successfully achieved.

antigua

We went out four or five nights a week, which is more than I have ever been out in my whole life. Surprisingly, I didn’t get sick of it. In fact, I had the time of my life.

Each bar has a completely different vibe and you meet new people every night. We also treated this trip as our last hurrah – my best friend is settling down and I have no idea when I’ll see her again.

Most of my nights looked like this...

Most of my nights looked something like this…

Antigua is one of the world’s capitals of “ladies nights”, largely because of the young people who flock to town to study at the ridiculously cheap Spanish schools (which charge $2 an hour!). On Tuesday nights, one bar sells drinks for $0.50. On Wednesday nights at a different bar, ladies get three drink tokens, a 10 minute shoulder and neck massage and a manicure – yes, all for free. On Thursday nights, two adjacent bars give women a total of 10 free drinks.

They play amazing music in all these places, so we were happy dancing for hours on end. I am now an expert reggaeton dancer 😉 Between that and the drinking, you should be able to see why I went out so much!

Accurate.

Accurate.

Despite all the drinking, I still managed to lose 5kg (11lbs), but that’s a story for another post. I think my body just loves Guatemala.

The weather was perfect, so we had plenty of pool days.

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Before you think I’m a complete waste of space, we did do some touristy things. There is a huge market in town which we stopped by almost every day. (We took all our photos on the same day, in case you think I only own one outfit!)

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Our homestay <3

Our homestay <3

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We did take a shuttle up to one of the lookout points, which was kinda like hiking.

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We did private salsa lessons four days a week, and that’s one thing I’m going to miss dearly!

We were also lucky enough to see the Fuego volcano erupt not once but twice, which is something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.

volcano

Luckily, I didn’t get sick again after Semuc, so we were able to eat a lot of food. For breakfast, we either had pancakes, waffles or eggs with fried plantains.

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We also ate our bodyweight in nachos.

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We flew out on Wednesday at 2pm, which just so happened to be my birthday. Naturally, we went out the night before, which was in equal parts a brilliant and terrible idea as I didn’t sleep a wink until I got on the plane. I seriously considered not coming home, but a) my friend begged me not to abandon her on the long flight and b) I really, really want to live in France first. I will be back, Guatemala!

I didn’t eat for 24 hours, but redeemed myself with a birthday burger at Atlanta airport. There were enough fries in that bag to fill up our “regular” cup four times. I would be so fat if I lived in the US!

5 guys

Cost of living for one month in Guatemala
Now, for the fun part. I did say it was cheap to live here, but I don’t think you will really understand until I spell it out for you.

You could live here even cheaper, if you take away all the meals out, partying, dance classes and travelling about. It’s quite mind-blowing.

Guatemala

Accommodation & food

€332 ($371)

Dining out/drinking

€202 ($225)

Transport

€91 ($102)

Private salsa classes

€60 ($67)

Gym membership

€32 ($35)

Tour at Semuc Champey

€20 ($22)

Clothing

€4 ($4)

Phone bill

€0 ($0)

Miscellaneous

€48 ($54)

TOTAL

€789 ($880)

 

 

Notes:

  • We paid US$13 a day to our host family, and that included accommodation and three meals per day. Seriously. That won’t even buy you one meal in London. We could live there for less than $5000 a year.
  • We stayed in a hotel in San Pedro, which was $11 a night. We rented a private bungalow in Semuc Champey, for $8 each per night.
  • When we were in San Pedro and Semuc, we ate every meal out. In Antigua, we ate some meals out for a change and also typically had one snack per day.
  • We did 15 dance classes for the price of one private lesson in London. Again, mind boggling.
  • My miscellaneous expenditure was a wax and a 60 minute massage, which was relatively cheap but surprisingly more expensive than Croatia.
  • Transport is so cheap. For $100, we got a taxi to and from the airport (one hour each way), transfers to and from San Pedro (four hours each way) and Semuc Champey (9-10 hours each way), and occasional taxis home on our nights out (purely for safety’s sake).
  • I didn’t bother getting a sim card when I was there, as I haven’t had a working phone for three months now. It’s quite liberating!
With our house mama <3

With our house mama <3

Once I feel more confident about my French, I promise I will be back to learn Spanish! It’s a heck of a lot easier to stay long term in Central America than it is in Europe. All the signs are pointing for me to go!

I can’t be sad for too long, as I’m off to Paris tomorrow – and this is the trip I’ve been dreaming about since I started travelling eight months (!) ago.

Have you ever been to Central America? Have you ever lived anywhere cheaper than this?

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