San Pedro

my home in San Pedro
my home in San Pedro

San Pedro is the backpacker’s choice for accommodation on Lake Atitlan because it’s cheap, beautiful and provides easy access to the other towns around. Aside from two perpendicular main streets, which meet at the top of the hill, most streets are only just wide enough for a tuktuk. A third wide street runs parallel to the shore, heading out to where all the expats have bought land. On Sunday a parade which appeared to be composed of multiple church groups took up the entire street as it proceeded along this road and into the town centre. We stayed in a B&B near the end of that road for the first week, lounging in hammocks and exploring the lake.

After investigating a number of schools, we chose Corazon Maya because it was outside town, away from ‘gringolandia’ where the backpackers hang out, and was the cheapest. All schools offer lessons in beautiful gardens in pagolas to shelter from any rain, and this one is near the water. Some schools offer certified teachers, but at my level, I just wanted someone I could talk to, and I prefer to help the poorer members of the community. I don’t regret the decision, deciding to stay a second and now potentially a third week.

While my friend decided to stay in a bungalow on the school grounds, I opted again to stay with a local family so I could practice outside of school more easily and to better understand the local culture. My hosts are a very friendly older couple who seem to enjoy our conversations at mealtimes, which now extend to a couple of hours, and they have endless patience while I struggle through finding the right words. The husband was a carpenter, but now teaches at a school an hour and a half away. He gets up at 4am to catch the bus, and gets home in the mid afternoon. The wife gave up teaching a couple of years ago and now weaves belts when she’s not cooking or cleaning, visiting church.

This is my second house in Guatemala, and I’m starting to see a pattern. Both houses were open to the air, with only bedrooms shutting out mosquitoes and the cold night air. This house is open in the middle with stairs leading up to separate first floors on each side. One side has four bedrooms and an open attic storage area with a hammock where I spend most of my rest time. The other side has a sitting room downstairs and the kitchen above. A high roof covers the whole house, but the wall opposite the entrance reaches hip height on the first floor. Maria complains about the flies, but they both like having the outside inside. Aside from the mosquitoes, I’ve come to love it too.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *