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I spent an afternoon in Guatemala exploring the Mayan ruins of Tikal. There were several options for getting there but I chose an afternoon sunset tour. The sunrise tour sounded interesting, seeing the ruins in a mist, hearing the jungle wake up. But personally I couldn't be bothered to wake up early for it. So a sunset seemed good enough for me. You may recognize the landscape of Tikal from a little-known independent film called Star Wars. I wouldn't though because I've only seen the movie once. ...

If you're looking for things to do in Flores, Guatemala the answer is: there aren't many. The island of Flores, for me and most people, was really just a jumping off point to explore the nearby Mayan ruins of Tikal. So most backpackers didn't stick around to do much else in town. Sure, I walked around a bit and explored the colorful architecture. But Flores was hot. Really hot. All day. All night. So much so that I sometimes would duck into a convenience store just to feel a blast of air conditioning. So wandering wasn't really the best activity. The...

I had intended to write here about how, sometimes, I feel like an awful traveler. Like how I've been forking over extra money to take shuttles instead of chicken buses because I feel more comfortable and because it's just that much easier. Or like how I booked a tour (albeit an incredibly cheap tour that started where I was and finished where I wanted to be) to Lanquin and Semuc Champey instead of doing it all myself like I had originally planned. And then I got to Semuc Champey, and saw just how absolutely beautiful it was. And that didn't...

Chichicastenango is a large market a few hours outside of Antigua. It's held every Thursday and Sunday, and a slew of vendors take over the town, selling everything from tourist trinkets to tools to soap to live chickens. I managed to come away buying just one thing: a small blue weaving. I had wanted a big long one to match a table runner I bought in India. But I never found one I really liked. I'm rather particular. And I almost bought a giant wool blanket but didn't want to carry the extra weight. I don't buy a lot of souvenirs...

On my fifth day in San Pedro, when my back was still sore but feeling a bit better, I joined my friends Marlies and Jorien (a pair of Dutch girls I'd studied with in Antigua), and another Dutch boy and we explored a nearby lakeside town: San Marcos. I'm not sure I could have survived in San Marcos for more than an afternoon. It was the kind of place where you could fill up on vegetables, spend the morning doing yoga and the afternoon getting your inner chakra balanced while sipping an herbal concoction meant to cleanse your aura. That...

I arrived in San Pedro La Laguna on the suggestion of just about everyone I'd met. It was meant to be a lovely place. It was meant to be fun, relaxing. It seemed like the perfect distraction after studying Spanish for a month in Antigua. And it was pretty. For about 5 minutes. Until I realized that there isn't really any place to go to enjoy the beauty of the lake. And until I realized that everyone there is either a hippy or just wants to snort coke and take acid. Or both. I mean, really, I don't know what...

¡Hola! Yo quise aprender un otro idioma por mucho tiempo. Yo estudie francés en escuela pero yo no aprende nada. Muchas personas yo conozco saben muchas idiomas. A veces yo estoy celosa. Yo aborrezco hablar en inglés solamente. Cuando yo decide viajar en centroamérica yo quise comenzar en Guatemala y estudie español por 1 mes en Antigua. Hay muchos escuelas en Antigua. Yo escogí La Academia de Español Sevilla porque yo leí en mi guía turística. Yo pensé la escuela parecía bueno. Yo quise aprender Español porque yo voy a viajar en Central America. Muchas personas no habla inglés aquí....

There's a lot to see and do in Antigua. But, to be honest, after studying for four hours each morning, I kind of wanted to do nothing many afternoons. One day, determined to see as much as humanely possible, my friend Charlotte took some of us on a guidebook-led walking tour. And a few other afternoons I managed to squeeze in some sightseeing between school, being lazy, and school run field trips...

After three and a half weeks taking Spanish lessons in Antigua, with over a week left to go before leaving on our separate ways, we needed a break from all of that intense studying. We needed to relax. We needed to have some fun. We needed a vacation from our vacation. And, so, my friends and classmates and I squeezed into a shuttle bus and headed to Montericco Beach. Monterrico is a volcanic black-sand beach on Guatemala's Pacific coast in the Santa Rosa Department. It's considered to be the best beach in Guatemala...