It's one thing to see all the love and recognition my country gets through social media, but it's another to see the reactions in person. For my last Spring Break I decided to go back to Guatemala, but this time with my friends. Our planning began since Fall of 2016, my family and I organized a 10-day trip that would highlight the main tourist attractions of Guatemala. Our stops included: Antigua, Monterrico, Tikal, Panajachel, and Guatemala City.
Since I am focusing my blog heavily on traveling, I decided to give my passport a makeover... Now I am truly a Wandering Lion!
Our first stop was Antigua, which is the old capital city of Guatemala. This place is known by it's old Spanish colonial aesthetic and its cobble stoned streets. We stayed at my parent's vacation house in San Juan El Obispo, which is one of the towns in Antigua. We began our trip with a trip to the Spa at Casa Santo Domingo, where we bathed in the jacuzzis and pools for hours. The following day we walked all over Antigua, we went to all the classic Antigua spots: Calle del Arco, Parque Central, Mercado de Artesanias, and all the churches in Antigua. At night, we all went to a hookah bar and later went dancing at a club. Antigua is well known for its night life as well, you are guaranteed to have a great time wherever you go. The following day we went to a coffee tour at Finca Filadelfia, where we learned the entire process of making coffee.
Our next stop was Monterrico, one of Guatemala's beaches. We stayed at my family's beach house at Blanc Monterrico and enjoyed all of the facilities that the resort-community had to offer. Fair warning, the sun here is REALLY strong so bring enough sunblock/tanning oil.
Our next stop was back to Guatemala City, where we stayed at my house for a day before we left for our next destination. During this city day we went to Paseo Cayala, which is an area within the city that strongly resembles Santorini, Greece. We wore some of our best outfits for this day because the atmosphere of Cayala deserved it, and I must say that our pictures definitely give off a Dolce & Gabbana vibe.
The next stop was Peten, where the Mayan ruins are located. We stayed at the Maya International Hotel, and that place was absolutely stunning. The hotel is built around the lake in Peten, which provides with excellent picture perfect moments. The first archeological site we visited was Yaxha, which is double the size of Tikal and its most impressive feature is the pyramid that overlooks the entire lake. The next day we went to the most famous Mayan City, Tikal. Our favorite spots were the Grand Jaguar, which is the pyramid you see in all of the Guatemalan postcards and Temple IV, which overlooks all of Tikal and is more than 1,000 ft. tall. Since these Mayan ruins are deep in the jungle, you are bound to run into wild animals. We were able to see a lot of howling monkeys and spider monkeys, along with Pizotes which strongly resemble miniature Brachiosaurus with the shape of their tails. Unfortunately, we did not run into any jaguars... maybe next time.
Next up was Panajachel at Lake Atitlan. Here we stayed at the Rancho Grande Inn, which is a block away from the main shopping street in Panajachel. Panajachel is known for its beautiful handcrafts (jewelry and clothing) and its paintings. The first day we went kayaking in the lake, and that proved to be quiet the workout since the wind pulled us 3 miles into the lake and we had to paddle back... individually. We took a boat ride to one of the villages by the lake, San Marcos La Laguna and went cliff jumping into the lake. The drop is about 20 ft., not too high but it definitely provides its adrenaline rush. The second day we took another boat ride to another village, Santiago Atitlan. Here we took a tour of the village where we learned about some of the Mayan Gods, the art of the handcrafts, and some general history. Be prepared to want to buy EVERYTHING at Panajachel, I recommend getting the handmade pants and shirts.
Our last day was another city day. Some of my friends and I went to get tattoos at my favorite tattoo studio, Soul's Anchor Tattoo. Then, my family had a farewell barbecue for my friends and I. We finished our trip by going to see Beauty and the Beast, because we are all still kids at heart.
I want to give a very special thanks to my mother, she was the mastermind behind this entire trip. I would also like to thank my friends, thank you for letting me share my country with you. I am sure this is not a goodbye from Guatemala to you, simply a "see you soon".
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