This is the place for photos and reflections of my visits to Latin America beginning in 2012. Previous blogs are linked on the main pages of my photo collections on flickr. HAPPY TRAILS!

Sunday, October 25, 2015


I'm in Guatemala and have my wits about me enough to send out this 1st trip update - my circuitous trip south and 1st full day in San Pedro. I'll be in San Pedro La Laguna on gorgeous Lake Atitlán for 3 weeks this trip and Mike will join me for the last week. Then we'll fly to the north of Guatemala for a few days of Maya site hopping with a beloved archaeologist and then head west into Belize, finishing with part of a week on Caye Caulker, a laid back island just off the coast.

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Evening trip up the Columbia River gorge - a beautiful reminder of how blessed we are to travel and then to come home to this place.

Another fantastic art collection at 'best in the US' PDX

A perfect itinerary booked using airmiles was soured a few months ago when the airline saw fit to change my initial flight, giving me a midnight departure and a 12 hour layover in Dallas. A little research found that signing up for an American Express card (1st year free of fee) and paying $50 at the door could buy me a relative resort day in their Centurion Lounge with chase lounges for napping, gourmet buffets, comfy seating and a chair massage.

It was a splurge but worth every dime, especially when my flight was delayed and the layover became 16 hours. Travel tip: sign up for real time text messages about flight status. When I received notice that our flight was cancelled due to foul weather in Dallas I had a 30 second jump on the rest of the crowd at the gate; being near the 1st in line for rerouting meant I was able to arrive in Guatemala the next morning after a brief (<3 hours of sleep!) stopover in Mexico City.

Benito Juarez Internat'l Airport in Mexico City at 2am

Waiting for the airport shuttle in the Holiday Inn lobby at 5:45am (booked online as I waited to board my flight with tips from Mexico City locals heading home)

I'm still waiting on a checked bag of gifts and household items but at least it's in the hands of a trusted driver now. Another travel trip: try to fly carryon only and even if you don't, carry on a change of clothes and needed medicine and toiletries.

I generally fly into Guatemala in the evening and was delighted to recognize Lake Atitlán and its ring of volcanos from the air.

The aforementioned trusted driver, Alfredo Garcia, met me at the airport and dropped me in Panajachel. I enjoyed the conversation and scenery along the way. I took this photo of a stingray bike (retro here, too, called 'Californianas' - for Mike since we both tore around on them as kids

and this photo of brick makers because it was fascinating to watch.

I caught the next lancha across the lake from Panajachel to San Pedro La Laguna.

That's Ti Wachooch to the right of the red roof on the left edge of the photo - 3 dark eyes and a tower.

After hello hugs with Mynor, Josefa, and family, my top priority - after an overnight flight the 1st night followed by a 3 hour hotel stay the 2nd night - was sleep. After a wonderful nap I enjoyed a friendly, delicious dinner at the Cooperativa School with a large extended family group of Mynor's cousins, followed by more delicious sleep.

Note to Mariah and Greg: Definitely qualified as a Meat Fiesta.

Next morning - Sunday October 25th - I rose with the sun to beautiful views and headed to the park and the market to fill my eyes with color and buy food for breakfast. There are markets for produce and meat every day in San Pedro but Sunday's is the largest.

I enjoyed bumping into people I know (like Beca Project student Maria Cecilia with her mom and uncharacteristically serious little brother)

and shopped until the 20 quetzales (about $2.60) I had in my pocket was gone. The result:

After breakfast Mynor and I headed out on his motorcycle to present an invitation to party on our rooftop to each of the Beca Project families.

The motorcycle is a huge blessing but we still had to walk much of the time through varied and interesting terrain.

Lucia Adamari

Jesus Briyit

Diego Edwin and family

Ana Maria and family

It took about 4 hours to visit 65 families (a new world record!) and we were rewarded with a lovely Josefa-created lunch for our accomplishment.

I spent the rest of the day settling into our little Ti Wachooch and enjoying the afternoon and evening scenery before heading to bed.

You can find the complete photo collection for this trip HERE.

Happy Trails!


  1. After seeing your responses show up on many forum sites this past week (as I explore places and questions related to my upcoming February trip to Guatemala) I am excited to find out more about you, what you are involved with in Guatemala AND the fact that we are nearly neighbors. I grew up in Pasco, am a retired pediatric physical therapist now living in Eugene after nearly 30 years on the coast of Maine. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

  2. Hi, Betty! I grew up in Lebanon so we have both the Willamette Valley and east of the Cascades homes in common! Have a wonderful trip and please tell us all about it when you get home.

  3. Hi Stacy,

    I've seen your post on many different forums regarding travel in Central America specifically Guatemala. I was wondering if you could give some advice for a first time solo female traveler, with no Spanish abilities, going to Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico. I'll be going as part of a tour group in early November. Just wondering if you had any update on how to get from GUA airport to a specific hotel in Antigua. Is there a reputable company that you arrange private transportation with that you can share? During the day is it safe to go to the markets/town alone? I see that you like to dive, is there a company you recommend to go diving with at the blue hole in Belize?

    Thank you so much if you could share your insight.

  4. Hello!
    The simplest way to get from GUA to your Antigua hotel is to have the hotel or an agency set up a private driver for you; cost for me has been $30-35 depending on the time of day (more in the very early morning or starting at some point in the evening). The driver will be holding a sign with your name at the airport exit.

    Here are 2 transportation providers I’ve been pleased with in Guatemala for share shuttles, private transfers, and flight arrangements:
    Adrenalina Tours:
    Rainbow Travel:

    Our favorite private driver, Alfredo Garcia, is bilingual, personable, prompt, and safe, and has nice vehicles:

    Will you be staying on Caye Caulker? My favorite dive op there is Belize Diving Services.

    I went on their 3 tank Blue Hole dive day a few years ago and really appreciate their nice big, boat (they have 2 now) since it's a really long day on the water. Note that it's an advanced dive; BDS requires advanced certification and at least 25 logged dives to go to depth at The Blue Hole (which might apply to you, too, just wanted to make sure you knew).

    If you're staying aside from Caye Caulker I can't help with dive recommendations.

    Regarding your lack of Spanish, I'd do a bit of work online before your trip and pick up a Latin America phrase book. You'll get by fine with a tour group (or even without on the main tourist track) but your trip will be so much richer if you have more Spanish. Google 'online travel spanish' for some basic phrases and youtube videos or consider starting in at

    And if you ever want a recommendation for great Spanish Schools where you study 1-on-1 and live with a local family, let me know. It's an incredible opportunity to get to know an area and the locals and one of the very cheapest ways to travel.

    Happy trails!