By , November 1, 2011 2:34 pm

What can I say… we loved Guatemala and had a hard time leaving.  Here’s a summary of our time there and a few random Guatemalan pictures that we haven’t yet had the chance to share.

Guatemala Statistics:

Length of Stay: 71 days
Average Cost per Day for Two People: $43.04 CAD
Average Cost per Day for Two People (excluding Spanish lessons & replacing our stolen camera): $24.97 CAD
Cities/Towns Visited: 8
Distance Traveled: 1938 km in 18 automobiles and 3 boats
Days Sick: 3 for Ashley, 0 for Mike
Number of Items Lost: 2 (Camp Soap, Ashley’s t-shirt)
Number of Items Stolen: 1 (camera)
Biggest Tourist Traps: The unofficial Garifuna tour of Livingston.
Exchange Rate: $1 CAD = 8 Quetzales

For more great travel statistics, check out our stats page!

Our Route:

Flores (Tikal) – San Pedro La Laguna – Quetzaltenango/Xela (San Andrés Xecul) – Coban – Semuc Champey – Lanquin – Rio Dulce – Livingston



  • Having our camera pickpocketed at the fair in Xela and then having to cough up the cash to replace it
  • Losing our Nalgene water bottle in Xela – somehow we took this harder than the camera being stolen a few days earlier (happy note: we found the water bottle sitting on an ATM machine in the grocery store the next day!)
  • 3 days of being sick in Xela for Ashley (like really, really sick)
  • Finding out right after Ashley got healthy that she could have been paid $100 USD to be treated as part of a university research study on traveler’s sicknesses
  • Having to eat out way too much, as there were no kitchens in our hostels for two weeks between Xela and Livingston

Beauty in unexpected places… flowers in the Walmart parking lot in Xela


  • Xocomil water park.  The last thing we were expecting in the middle of Guatemala was this epic water park!  We had a blast there!
  • Feeling like giants.  After Mexico, we were used to feeling tall… but in the smaller Mayan communities of Guatemala (like San Pedro La Laguna) we felt freakishly tall.
  • Seeing women in traditional dress pulling a cellphone out of their bras. Despite the extreme poverty levels, cell phones are everywhere.
  • It takes a looooong time to cook dry beans.
  • Six weeks of private classes is not enough to become fluent in a language.  This probably shouldn’t have been such a surprise, but it was.
  • Guatemala seems to have a love affair with marching bands and fried chicken.  Maybe it was just the time of year (leading up to the national election and Independence Day), but we saw impromptu parades and marching bands daily.  Restaurants selling fried chicken can be found on every block and in the evening the number doubles with a mobile fryer set up on every corner as well.

Parque Centro in Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala

Lessons Learned:

  • If you know there are likely to be pickpockets about, leave everything you don’t need safely in your hostel. This includes cameras… it’s pretty hard to download photos off of a stolen camera.
  • We don’t need lots of stuff and a big house.  I think we were pretty much in this mindset before we left home, but our time in Guatemala has taken the belief to the next level.

Sunset in Flores

Guatemalan Journal – Where Did We Spend Our Time?

Flores – 2 nights + 1 spent on a bus between Flores and Guatemala City
What we did here: Not much… went swimming in the lake and got a great view of the area from the roof of the church
Day trips: Tikal

San Pedro La Laguna – 43 nights
What we did here: 6 weeks of Spanish courses
Day trips: Chuira-X-amolo (zip-lining), Indian Nose, Volcan San Pedro, Santa Clara, kayaking Lake Atitlan

Quetzaltenango (Xela) – 14 nights
What we did here: Independence Day celebrations & parades, Independence Fair, Railway Museum
Day trips: Volcan Santa Maria, Fuentes Georginas, San Andrés Xecul, Xocomil

Coban – 1 night
What we did here: Not much… this was just a rest stop before continuing the rest of the way to Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey  – 2 nights
What we did here: hiking, swimming in stepped pools over a river, river tubing, jumped off a bridge, water caving

Lanquin – 1 night
What we did here: bat caves

Rio Dulce – 4 nights
What we did here: mostly rest, relaxation, and catching up the blog – it pretty much poured rain our whole stay
Day trips: El Paraiso (a hot waterfall)

Livingston  – 3 nights
What we did here: we spent a lot of time strolling through town
Day trips: Las Siete Altares waterfalls

Mmmm… street meat!

If you want to check out some of our Guatemala photos, check out our photo gallery.

One Response to “Guatemala Roundup: Land of Marching Bands & Fried Chicken”

  1. […] we blog about Guatemala, we focus on describing the experiences we’ve had (both positive and negative) and we try to […]

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