San Pedro La Laguna is a great little town on a large lake. It's a hotspot for backpackers and has become one of the top places to go for learning Spanish. I came to San Pedro and took Spanish classes for about 3 months.
The drive from Antigua took a few hours and was fairly enjoyable. I like having the chance to see the countryside of Guatemala.
The bus driver stopped at the top of the hill before entering the town and we all got out to take photos.
When I arrived in town, I wasn't sure what to think. The town seemed OK, but I didn't know if I would like it very much. I hadn't booked anything but there was a Spanish school that I researched and I took a tuktuk to it.
I went to Corazon Maya and asked if they had any space available for me. They did! The school was very affordable. I believe it cost me $90 per week for 20 hours of class and my own bungalow with its own bathroom. Other rooms had a shared bathroom setup and I wasn't going to do that for months.
From the street, the school didn't look like much. There was just this bamboo fence. It looked really small. Though the property isn't very wide, it's super long. The strip of land went all the way down to the lake.
There were several bungalows for students to live in. Mine was 2 stories and other students lived upstairs.
The whole property had a ton of cool plants. This path ran down the length of the property.
These are the classrooms. All of the classes are 1-on-1 with a teacher. I prefer classes with other students, but none of the schools that I found offered those kinds of classes. For me it's better with other students because I don't get as discouraged when I see other people struggle with the same things I struggling with. It's also easy to make friends in class. My teacher was great though, so I'm not complaining.
In the mornings I would have coffee and find an avocado to eat later in the day. They had huge trees that were stuffed full of avocados.
The avocados would fall off and I would find one on the ground that wasn't rotten. They were different from the avocados that I'm used to, but they were still good.
The only negative thing about my room was the bathroom. It was supposed to be for me only, but I ended up sharing it with a giant spider. The exposed wires and electrical box were also a little concerning. The handle to turn off the water would become electrified during showers and would shock my hand when I turned off the water. I kept a sock next to the shower and would wrap my hand with it to turn off the water.
The room was supposed to only be for me, but this little guy adopted me while I lived here. He would just walk in like he owned the place. It was fun having a cat while I was here.
In San Pedro, there was a cafe that let you copy movies and tv shows. They had a menu and all movies were like $1 and all seasons of shows were $3. I brought a hard drive and filled it up with stuff. I watched Deadwood while I was here.
Cat and dog food aren't really a thing in Guatemala so I tried to keep my cat happy with chicharrones. These are a snack made of fried pig skin. My cat loved them! Me too!
The cat didn't really need any help feeding himself though. He was always catching animals and lizards.
For my food there was a family across the street from the school. The woman of the house, Jackie, would make meals for a really reasonable price for students. It was something like 2-3$ per meals. You just told her what meals you would be having. I had lunch and dinner here almost every day. We would eat with the family and it was a lot of fun.
The food was a little bland (I like very spicy food), but it was filling and the company was great. There would be other students as well as Jackie's husband and two children. Their house and dining room were in the back of the store.
San Pedro La Laguna is a hilly town. My school was on the outskirts of town and it was a little bit of a workout to walk into town.
The town has a ton of cool restaurants and cafes with awesome gardens.
The lake is the most prominent feature of the town. A problem that they're having is that the lake is filling up too fast. There aren't any outlets and the water isn't being used or evaporated fast enough. Several homes are in the water now and the level of the water keeps rising. Lots of people are trying to sell their lakeside property, but no one wants to buy it.
Another prominent feature of the town is a giant mountain. Many of the locals earn their living by growing coffee and other crops on the mountain. Many of their wives teach Spanish at the schools.
The plants and animals here were like nothing I've ever seen before. They had giant humming birds. Other birds with songs that I'd never heard.
This plant that grows on vines was a common feature in many of the meals that I had at Jackie's. It's called Guisquil and it's very similar to potatoes. Very starchy.
I went to the little stores a lot for beer, snacks, and chicharrones for my cat. At one of them, they had the UFC on. I'm a UFC fan and stayed for a few fights.
This was my teacher for a few months. Not only did she teach me Spanish, she taught me a lot about Guatemala and Mayan culture. One of the reasons why Guatemala is such a good place to learn Spanish is because most of the teachers learned Spanish as a second language.
There are over 20 officially recognized languages spoken in Guatemala. Most of them are different Mayan languages.
There are some interesting beliefs and customs in the region. My teacher told me that when she was pregnant with her daughter, she removed all stuffed animals and pictures of animals from her home. She put up pictures of healthy children. The thought is that if you keep looking at pictures of animals when you're pregnant, you'll give birth to an animal. There seemed to be a lot of beliefs about people turning into animals.
I loved my time in San Pedro La Laguna. It was an awesome and very cheap place to live for a few months. On my way out of town I spotted this tuktuk that was decorated like a transformer. It also has "Fanny" on the windshield which is particularly funny if you're from the UK.
Since I was close to the end of my visa, it was time to move on to another country. Colombia was my next destination, but with the way ticket prices were, it was cheaper to stop in the USA then go to Colombia. I decided to stop in Texas to visit a friend. San Antonio Texas will be the next stop!