San Pedro and my Attempts to Learn Spanish
San Pedro Travel Blog› entry 4 of 21 › view all entries
We left Antigua on the 8th Oct and caught a shuttle to a town on lake Atitlan called Panajachel - the main town with the most transport links. We arrived fairly late in the day so decided to stay the night and after much indecision and a great amount of harassment by the local ferry touts, we opted for easy accommodation - i.e. right where we were dropped off. It was a small family run place with three bedrooms called Hospedeje Villa Martita. Once we'd sorted out rooms and beds we split up from the group - we travelled with 3 others from Antigua: Paddy (aka Nikki a German with an Irish accent... ), Lorin and Meghanne from Canada. Al, Maree, Jules and me headed down to the lake to eat our packed lunches - made up of rolls with avo, a sweet role that tasted like a scone and cool drinks.
After navigating our way back past the ferry touts - who were trying to convince us to catch their boats to particular towns across the lake, we found a spot to eat and watch the clouds role in. It didn't take long for various ladies and kids selling handmade wares to approach us hoping to make some sales... unfortunately for them we're backpackers - both space and money are limited. Three of the little girls who approached us did score some biscuits off Maree though, the littlest girl actually asked... cheeky! As the sky got darker and the lake more rough we decided to head back up the main street to find somewhere to have a coffee and read.
On our way we bumped in to Paddy and then Lorin and Meghanne, and the two girls joined us for coffee and hot chocolates.
Woke early and as a group we headed down for breakfast along lake Atitlan, before our ferry. We stopped at this really quaint looking restaurant over looking the lake.
We missioned around with the ferry touts until they agreed a price to take us over to San Pedro without us having to wait around for more people - they said if they had more people it would be cheaper... we're convinced we got scammed, but it wasn't too expensive in the end anyway. On arriving at San Pedro after a reasonably calm and picturesque boat ride, we were once again harassed by touts - but this time ones trying to get us to various hostels as they get a cut if they take you there.
Our first stop was for food at the Buddha Bar where we ate delicious hummus wraps with fries and Canada Dry Ginger Ale. After lunch we missioned off to the bank and to look in to studying Spanish at one of the local schools. We decided to check out the 'Cooperativa Spanish School', and the grounds alone sold us on the school. The 'classroom' is effectively the surrounding gardens, they have these little open air huts with a single table and chairs for one-to-one tuition. The gardens also have views over the lake, just divine.
When we got back to the hostel we found a group of people having a drink so we joined them for a while after dinner at Irish owned cafe called the Clover, which had great food and was value for money. We couldn't help eating there a few times before we formally moved in to our home stays.
The following day we decided to kayak on lake Atitlan, which was an activity organised by the Cooperativa Spanish School at no extra cost. This was the first time I'd ever kayaked, and thankfully (or not.
Oh I finally sent washing off for cleaning, and I must say the majority of items came back as they were sent in... except for my one bra which is now missing a wire - at least it was old... lol.
On the Sunday we checked out of the Pinocchio Hostel and moved in to our home stays. Alan and Julian went to two different home stays and Maree and myself went to the same one. We did this due to the fact that the guys are fairly fluent in Spanish and therefore learning at a much higher level than us girls - who stayed together for safety. Our host family was not far from the school. The mom's name was Maria and she had three kids - Lufie (the oldest at 17 years), Juan (around 12 years) and little Ada-Maria (10 years I think) who just loves having students staying at her home.
Okay Spanish school... lets just say that I still suck at languages, although perhaps it is just that I need more time to take things in and 5 days intensive Spanish is good but not enough time to actually absorb, learn and practice what you've learned - particularly if you're starting at ground zero like I was. My teacher's name was Griselda, she was the same age as me, about my height and it often felt like she was laughing at me - I think my errors in her mother tongue amused her no end.
Overall I would say that the home stay was worthwhile, despite the fact that I found it somewhat awkward due to the language barrier. Maria and her family were extremely friendly and kind towards Maree and me, and perhaps staying for several months would result in excellent Spanish. I can say that at the end of the week I did understand a lot more than when I began, albeit I still struggle to pull out words that perhaps I should now know.
At the school we attended one free salsa lesson which was loads of fun, everyone had a laugh and enjoyed themselves. We also attended the Friday night group dinner with Cuba libres (rum and coke), which I enjoyed until I felt sick... stomach aches the joys of traveling in third world countries. We left the following day for Monterrico for the Turtle Festival.