Monday, July 23, 2007

Guatemala Trip

I’ve been out and about a lot lately. From June 28 to July 8, I took a work/fun trip to Guatemala. I was traveling with one of the other ELFs, her husband, and another one of the presenters from the conference that I went to. In all, Guatemala was a little bit disappointing, after having heard so much about it for so long. Yes, the places were naturally beautiful, but the vendors in the street were just as bad as Colombia, which was unexpected and certainly unwanted after a year in El Salvador, where the only time people try to get me to buy something is when I’m in my car stopped at a red light. I was also surprised at how beautiful parts of Guatemala City are, after having heard it was a bit ugly. Ten times better than San Salvador (sorry El Salvador, but really, you could plant some more trees and flowers). Maybe that’s because there’s still trees left there.

The bus only took about 4 hours from San Sal to Guate (yea, Pullmantur, with its first-class leather seats and champagne), and had a very tasty Thai-fusion lunch at a place called Tamarindo’s. I think the real highlight of the whole trip was the food...we ate at a large quantity of yummy restaurants. In a whole year in El Salvador, I’ve only once had food at a place that I knew I’d really want to go back to again (Bahia de Juiquilisco, Puerto El Triunfo). San Salvador, why do you not have tasty food? You have good food, but not mouth-watering, ever. In Antigua, we had dinner at a place called El Mesón Panza Verde, which was excellent, and some very yummy chocolate from Chocotenango. I’d go back to Antigua in a minute, more for the food than anything else. In Panajachel, Lake Atitlán was as beautiful as they say it is. We went on a boat trip to three of the towns on the banks of the lake: San Marcos La Laguna, San Pedro La Laguna, and San Antonio Palopó . In Xela, there was a good tapas place that I don’t remember the name of now.

Most of the time I was in Guatemala I was in Xela, where I presented on using drama in the language classroom at the Regional Conference for Teachers of English at the Instituto Guatemalteco Americano (IGA). Overall, a good trip, and yes, I would go back.

Questions that linger in my Guatemala as dangerous as Salvadorans make it out to be? Don’t know. By the end of my stay, I felt like I could have driven to Xela without problems, but maybe that’s my innocent self. The roads don’t even compare to the quality of those in El Salvador, so I think my biggest fear would be having some mechanical problem out in the middle of nowhere (there’s a lot more out in the middle of nowhere than in El Salvador).

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