Exploring Guatemala City

Most people who have traveled to Guatemala will most likely say they only stayed one night in Guatemala City (Guate as its known to locals) due to flight arrival or departure times, or, more likely, they skipped the city entirely. However, I had the pleasure of staying over a week in the city to get to know it and its various neighborhoods. Although Lonely Planet opens its chapter on Guate by describing it as "big, dirty, dangerous and utterly forgettable or big, dirty, dangerous and fascinating", the city has a lot to offer, from its variety of neighborhoods to the country's best museums. It is also the most populated Central American city, with 3.3 million inhabitants in the urban zone as

That Little Language Barrier Thing

¡Hola! I'm writing from a cafe in the small mountain town of Cobán. In my 24 hours here, I've seen only four other "gringos", tourists that stand out because of their backpacks, sandals, height, and boisterous conversations. Which brings me to: Spanish. Español is the official language spoken here in Guatemala, but did you know there are 22 Mayan languages also spoken (the most common being K’iche’)? Don't worry, 93% of the population speaks Spanish (for 40% of those people, it is their second language), and depending on where you're traveling to, there will usually be someone around to help interpret your conversation between English and Spanish. However, knowing a few local phrases goe

Packing Advice from "The Girl with the Ginormous Backpack"

On my first long-term trip abroad, I was heading to South America for an indefinite period of time. Before the end of my first day at the hostel in Lima, I had already garnered the nickname “The Girl with the Ginormous Backpack”. It towered over me, and weighed in at 65 pounds. It was cumbersome, to say the least. I ended up giving away items of clothing along the way, sending some things home, and vowed never again to create such suffering for myself. Fast forward seven years later, and one of the things I get asked is, “What do you pack when you travel?” For my last trip before this move, I spent a few weeks in the Philippines with only 18 pounds of gear. That is one of my proudest m

Go Confidently...

The jet speeding down the runway wasn't going nearly as fast as the blood pumping through my veins. That's because I was finally doing it. It had been two long years of preparation for this day, but the mounting anticipation that had been muted by life was finally coming to the surface. Life - you know, that rote, day-in, day-out thing we do for thirty, forty, even fifty years. When life is at its end, I have heard the one thing that people talk about is not how amazing their time had been, even if they were relatively happy. They spoke about their regrets - missed opportunities, fractured relationships that they had hoped to repair, things they always wanted to do, but hadn't. That th

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Antigua Guatemala

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