San Pedro Week Three: Recommendations and Such

Trip Start Oct 10, 2007
Trip End May 15, 2008

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Where I stayed
Hotel Penelue

Flag of Guatemala  ,
Thursday, November 22, 2007

I survived and am now in week three.  During week two I kept thinking (through my visions of the Exorcist) that I couldnīt believe it had only been two weeks.  This week Iīm like Oh My God I canīt believe itīs already been 3 weeks!!! 

My Spanish school, Coopertiva Spanish School, is fabulous and my Spanish teacher, Luis, is even better.  If anyone chooses to go there I highly recommend Luis with the short hair (apparently there is a Luis with not so short hair who Iīm sure is good as well).  Now that Iīm feeling better Iīm getting more out of my classes and spend more time studying.  Iīve met a bunch of foreigners who are here to party, learn Spanish or a bit of both.  Some are passing through quickly and some have been here for some time.  The expatriate explosion is quite apparent and the influence of tourism even more so.  This, as I expected, has been a bit of a challenge for my total immersion desires.  However, Iīve started to find it more of a disability than a challenge.  I have 3 more weeks of studies and am starting to research some schools in more remote areas. 

San Pedro has been a great starting point.  I am quite grateful to some restaurants and, after moving 4 times in 2 weeks, finally found a hotel that I like.  Unfortunately, most of my eating has been in gringo owned restaurants but that is slowly changing.  I recommend Hotel Penelue as a place to stay.  I am paying 25Q a night for a room with a private bath.  The owner, Alberto, is quite friendly and just built a newish kitchen.  He is clearly building onto the hotel as well.  I have a fabulous lake view and a wonderful gallo (rooster) as my snooze button every morning.  There are some cheaper places for 15Q however, they donīt have private bathrooms or lake view and havenīt impressed me much.  10Q more is a little over a dollar.  Iīll take great views and sun for $1 more any day.  There are, of course, the hotels by the doc where you will take part in a late night party whether you are actually there or not.  These also cost more.  During my sickness I stayed at one for 75Q.  Hotel Penelue is worth much more for the money.

I most frequent The Cove, Allegra Pub, Cafe Flores, Zoolas, Shanti Shanti and Restaurante Brendaīs

The Cove is one of my favorites.  This would be the restaurant that Bill from Tucson owns.  Great burritos and breakfast.  He lives in the back and is one of the more inspiring expatriates that Iīve met.  Cafe Flores is locally owned and has great food.  Excellent prices for the quality and quantity. Allegra Pub is a New Zealand owned sports bar with a seemingly endless game of futbal on a few TVs.  I was there for the end of the Scotland vs Italy game and it was quite an experience.  In addition to the first sport Iīve ever had interest in watching, they have great potatoes, vegy burgers and other vegetarian options.  From what I can tell, the bar is fully equipped and the mighty meat eaters will find some great options as well. They also show free movies every night.   DīNoz, pronounced deenose, is more of an afternoon place for me with great hot chocolate and light fare options.  They also have a lending library and show movies in the pm.  Zoola is Israeli owned and the menu reflects such.  It has a great atmosphere with cozy pillows and hammocks.   Shanti Shanti I discovered in my last week.  Opens early EVERY morning and has great pancakes at a good price.  Restaurante Brendaīs is the first locally owned restaurant I went to.  Opening early, I usually get a breakfast of pancakes with fruit, yogurt and granola on top.  This is also where I learned the true meaning of take out.  Not understanding what time the owner told me it was, I asked to take my food with me to my Spanish class.  She said sure and handed me a ceramic plate and real silver ware and told me to return it later.  There is a true unspoken belief in the "honor system" here.  Granted, all the young men out working at this time had a good laugh:)

I also have a favorite locally owned laundry place where I met Rosa.  The sign pointedly says ĻLaundryĻ with a blue background and bubbles.  It is on the main trail.  I have also had so much chocolate pan that I now know exactly which child I like to purchase from.  Her name is Carin or Karin and she has a fabulous smile. 

An aside observation is that the tourist books and a few true stories can make one quite paranoid regarding theft and trusting local people.  There is no lack for creativity in earning money here but I havenīt found a huge danger of theft either.  It has been quite normal for someone to ask me to wait while they get my change.  As they disappeared down a flight of stairs or around a corner, I initially had my doubts.  However, at this point I have always received my change.  So, take the advice to be paranoid based on where you are and donīt panic when someone races off with your 100Q.  They will more than likely return, they do want your continued business after all.
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mediafolk on

happy belated birthday! the time will fly so fast you will go through your 180 days in no time flat . . . but it sounds like you are squeezing every bit of joy and growth out of each day!

i am glad to hear you are gaining your own perspective on traveling abroad . . . those tourism/travel books can sometimes go overboard with the 'turista' stories . . . paranoia is good but not if it interferes with your ability to optimize your experience!

when are you planning to be in mexico?

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