We came to Guatemala with the main purpose of learning the basics of Spanish. The schools in Antigua are pretty cheap (only a little more expensive than in Quetzaltenango), and it’s still not too far (about an hour or an hour and a half) from the airport in Guatemala City (whereas I think that Quetzaltenango is about 4 hours from Guatemala City). It was $525 for both of us to have 5 days of one-on-one tutoring (from 8 AM – 1 PM with a half hour break at 10 AM), and that includes our lodging and almost all of our meals. Unfortunately, it didn’t include our beer :(
I took a few years of Spanish in high school, but I never practiced it, and so I barely remember anything. It’s been tough doing a complete immersion program, so I would recommend you brush up on the basics before you come. However, if you’re traveling for more than a few weeks in Spanish speaking countries, I highly suggest that you do a program like this one. It has already proved very useful (in getting antibiotics, beer, etc.).
Our host family has been really nice, and there are some other people our age (actually much younger, but hey – we’re still young, right?) from the USA staying there as well. We’ve gone out with them a couple of times, and while they probably think I’m crazy (who doesn’t?), we’ve had a lot of fun!
On one of the first days we were here, there was an earthquake at 6:30 AM off the coast, and we felt it in Antigua. I usually don’t sleep in any clothes, so I was awkwardly trying to get dressed while the house rumbled around us. One of the guys who lives in the house we are staying at came around banging on the doors to get outside, and I was trying to decide if I should grab clothes or just a towel. Eventually I decided that I should get dressed and grab my purse, but by the time I’d done that, the earthquake was over. I knew what it was immediately and that we should get outside, but I just couldn’t decide about the clothing haha.
We hiked one of the volcanoes that is close to Antigua. There are three volcanoes that surround Antigua - Volcán de Fuego (Fire Volcano; still active at a low level), Volcán de Agua (Water Volcano), and Volcán de Acatenango. There’s a 4th volcano that’s a little farther away: Volcán Pacaya. It’s common to hike either Acatenango or Pacaya.
We hiked Pacaya since we didn’t have that much time in Antigua. Acatenango takes a full 24 hours, and Pacaya took us 6 hours from the time we left Antigua to the time we got back (and it’s about 3 hours for just driving round trip). Acatenango is supposed to be much cooler though, and you can summit at night to see the lava. If you have the time and are okay hiking a few hours more, I’d say you should definitely do Acatenango. However, it was pretty from Pacaya and cool to hike a volcano (plus, I need the exercise), so I’m glad we did it.
Oh, and I got purple highlights in my hair. It was almost double the price for me since I’m white. When I went with my teacher, I was told it’d cost Q375, and when I went alone, it was Q550. But, what can you do? I am from the US, so I will pay more for things while traveling. It just is. It also didn’t come out anything like the picture I showed them, but whatever. It’s still cute.
See our Guatemala photos here.
Hi, I'm Sara Monica Patton. I love animals, traveling, and eating. Read more about me in my first blog post here.