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Is it safe to travel alone in Guatemala?

Mandas

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  • Added on: July 9th, 2009
Hi All,
I am planning a trip to Guatemala in August and would like to know if it is advisable to travel around the country alone. I am a woman in my late 20's and I speak decent Spanish. My trip would consist of spending one week immersed in a language school in Antigua and another week traveling to Lake Atitlan and surrounding areas. Any other suggestions for places to see close by to Antigua? And is it safe to travel alone?
Thanks for your help!

Tortuga_traveller

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  • Added on: July 10th, 2009
Yes it is safe if you take reasonable precautions. Don't go out too late at night in antiqua, or travel the back road around the lake in Lago Atitlan. Don't go up to the cerro de la Cruz alone in Antiqua, only in a group, ask about the safety of volcano climbing. Oh yes, get the heck out of Guat city as soon as possible, and dont wander around in Zone 1. Take a cab to the bus station...etc.

These are easy things to do, and if you do them, you'll be fine.

busman7

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  • Added on: July 10th, 2009
Excellent advise above however if you do find yourself at the Café No Sé or some such place at closing time the bar tender will gladly call you a cab.
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain

Louisghiker

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  • Added on: July 10th, 2009
There are so many women traveling alone or in pairs in Guatemala I lose count. If you don't flash your wealth, dress appropriately and use taxis after dark (they are very cheap) you will enjoy every moment of your trip. In the daytime, you can even walk around the busy streets and parks of zone 1 in Guate and stay safe.
Safe places to stay in the capital are Xamanek in zone ten and a new place near the airport run by a woman, Las Orquideas hostel.

i_d_

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  • Added on: July 12th, 2009
Alone or in groups - there is an element of danger (more than in most countries), but you can keep it low enough to enjoy your trip. Don't take things you don't want to lose, don't struggle if you do get robbed; ask the locals which areas are safe or not; don't travel at night.
Try to go to Quirigua at least, if you don't make it to Tikal.

Some more on this at
http://westwards.typepad.com/westwards/ ... index.html
http://westwards.typepad.com/photos/guatemala/
There is also a chart of expenses for Guatemala (in the "delicious pie charts")

Westwards
http://westwards.typepad.com/

Mayaphile

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  • Added on: July 15th, 2009
If you speak "decent Spanish", why don't you just immerse yourself in travel instead of limiting yourself to a week in some possibly stupid class and spending the rest of your short time in the Highlands?

There is so much to see in Guatemala that you can see a lot more if you don't waste a whole week in some class that you don't really need.

Just take a pocket dictionary and learn on the road.

Tortuga_traveller

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  • Added on: July 15th, 2009
I recommend a week in Todos Santos, or at least 4 days, and a week in Lago atitlan, because its just so beautiful.

juan3

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  • Added on: July 15th, 2009
I agree with mayaphile. It is difficult to find a good advanced Spanish class on a one week basis. Most of the classes that the tourists take are taken mainly for the socializing with fellow travelers. The majority of the instructors speak common or "gutter" Spanish. The locals who speak really good Spanish are university educated, and very few of them teach Spanish to tourists.
----------------------------------------- I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.-Mark Twain

busman7

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  • Added on: July 16th, 2009
Guess I was lucky at both schools I attended in Antigua as didn't encounter any instructors teaching "gutter" Spanish, except for a couple lessons on the subject. Sure there was some socializing at breaks but most were there to learn. 8-)

Must admit I did hear of a couple schools that were more interested in your money than teaching.
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain

Tortuga_traveller

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  • Added on: July 16th, 2009
The school I went to didn't teach Gutter Spanish, and all were university educated. I forget the name of it. I just went in and signed up for 4 weeks of intensive spanish. To be honest, one week is more for a brush-up than anything else, unless you memorize vocabulary and grammar like, well, a linguist.

So, if you really want to, go ahead. Antiqua is a nice place to visit in Guatemala, though I'd rather be in Atitlan myself.

Mayaphile

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  • Added on: July 16th, 2009
I don't know anything about "gutter Spanish" being an issue, but if you do bother with a week, make sure that you will be getting advanced teaching. As for me, my favorite Spanish classroom is Guatemala and my favorite textbook is my English-Spanish dictionary, but to each his own.

The advice to not travel at night would be good, except if you also count the overnight buses between Guate and Flores. That is the way to go. It sounds like Fuente del Norte's deluxe seats in its first class buses are now the best option for getting a good night's sleep, but I won't be very sure of that until early next year.

busman7

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  • Added on: July 16th, 2009
The advise was to use a taxi at night. When I was in Flores last year the only buses to Guate were at night & even the 2nd class ones were not bad for sleeping.

Spanish Schools were Cabaguil on 5 calle oriente 1/2 a block from Central Park & Guate Linda 7 avienda norte around 1 calle.
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain

juan3

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  • Added on: July 16th, 2009
When I used the term "gutter Spanish" I was not referring to profanity. It is a term used locally to refer to the trash Spanish spoken by the lower classes. There are many so called Spanish instructors here for whom Spanish is their second language. They use extremely poor grammar.

About every third door in the nine by nine block area of Antigua proper is a Spanish school. A few are quite good, but one must be very careful to find one of them.

About safety; stay off the paths between villages around the lake. Don't even go with a guide. Use a boat to go from one village to another.
----------------------------------------- I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.-Mark Twain

busman7

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  • Added on: July 17th, 2009
juan3 I believe all the posters knew what you were referring to by "gutter Spanish" & you seem to be in the only one trashing Spanish language schools in Antigua.

From talking with students of quite a few of the schools in nearly 3 months there I would say most are good & a few just after the money (same any where). The only instructors I came across whose first language was not Spanish were the ones teaching other languages to Spanish speaking students.
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain

juan3

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  • Added on: July 17th, 2009
busman7, I definitely am not trashing the Spanish schools in Antigua. Almost any of them are worthwhile for anyone who does not already speak Spanish. I was answering the question for a person such as the OP who already speaks the language adequately. One simply must carefully research the schools to find one that can challenge them enough to make good progress.

If you are looking for an argument, I will yield to your superior experience. I have only been in the Antigua area for about 10 years.
----------------------------------------- I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.-Mark Twain


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