Author Topic: Guatemala With the Family  (Read 1454 times)

Online Mordyk

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Guatemala With the Family
« on: February 19, 2024, 06:30:22 PM »
We traveled for Sukkos to Guatemala. Itís a beautiful place and if you have a chance itís definitely worth to visit. We had an overall amazing experience. At times it was challenging with little kids, but still worth it.  Writing this TR I realized that most of my pictures have family members so I had to select the few that don't to share here.

We are usually very comfortable people and this trip pushed us way out of our comfort zone but we all appreciated it immensely.

Planning:
Flights are pretty easy with many popular carriers.
We planned on staying in Antigua for first days, and Chol Hamoed in San Pedro. We struggled to find a decent place in San Pedro that was still available, so with convincing from Rí Chaim at Chabad Antigua we mostly switched and stayed the whole time in Antigua (besides one night that we decided to sleep over elsewhere). Chabad helped us with our whole itinerary and planning. I was really amazed how selfless they were. I have been to a few Chabad houses and always had a good experience, but this was something else. We felt at home.

Wednesday:
We landed in GUA evening time. Theres an immigration form that needs to be filled out online and you get a QR code. for some reason my QR picked up some other family so they made me redo it by customs. Not something I wanted to do right after a flight standing in a packed airport with kids and luggage. We drove straight to Antigua via a shuttle that Chabad arranged. We checked in to a beautiful Airbnb that is a 1 minute walk to Chabad. https://air.tl/O3qGDnRY
Despite being a high-end Airbnb, for some reason they donít believe in air conditioners. But with the open air concept the breeze was mostly good enough.

view right outside our villa


I walked over to Chabad to get a midnight snack. They literally had food available whenever we needed. And L'chayims, always L'chayims  ;D but contrary to Chabad, they had good dark Rum. #MinhagHamakom. And the food was delicious homemade and a decent variety.

Thursday:
We had breakfast in Chabad and then early afternoon headed to Pacaya mountain via our private shuttle. Chabad told us itís a half hour drive and 45 minutes up the mountain on horseback, and that we can do it with children. The drive was more like an hour. And the horseback up took probably 1:20. We get on to these horses and boy were we in for an introduction to Guatemala.  They didnít give us helmets as they would in any normal country. They start walking and then we see a straight up steep path of cobble stones and thatís where we headed. Scary is an understatement. I had a baby carrier with my 1.5 year old, and my wife had my 4 year old. It was an extremely difficult way up and the weather went from sunny and hot, to wind cold and rain. We werenít prepared for it. The horses barely wanted to get up there and one horse was even breathing so fast that the guy made us stop and wait for the heart rate to relax. But once we got up there it was all worth it. The views were indescribable. We saw smoke coming out of the mountain across from the one we were on, that was a volcano. We couldnít see red as it was in middle of the day. The way down we walked as they told us the way down on horses is even scarier. We also brought along marshmallows to roast near the warmth from the volcano thatís on the path walking down. It was overall a very cool and frightening experience. But I highly recommend it.

top of the mountain


horses getting their well needed break


pretty cool looking down and seeing clouds


Friday:
Friday we went to the local Antigua market to feed the park birds, shop from the locals and see the culture.
 
Shabbos/Sukkos Day 1:  Chabad was hosting many people for yom tov so the first night was pretty jammed especially with all the Israel backpackers. After the first night meal there was a lot more room for everyone. But no matter the size there was always enough food.

Sunday/Sukkos Day 2: Daven eat sleep repeat.

Monday/ Chol Hamoed:
We went to Hobbitenango. Itís a mountain adventure area 8,000 feet up. It had many activities for the adults and the kids. The famous hand over the mountain was there as well. Next door we had another park called Altamira. They also had nice activities, but they charged an entrance fee, and per individual attraction. t was an activity packed day with a lot of walking.





Altamira


Tuesday:
We started our day by going to the garment district to see the locals weaving the local style clothing. Was a bit of a waste of time.
We then continued to a Valhalla, a macadamia plant which was very cool. They show you the full process and allow some hands on for the kids as well.





We then headed to La Trufa Chapina, a chocolate factory that shows how chocolate is made starting from cacao pods all the way to toasting the nibs and then cooking it up into hot cocoa. They have separate cups for the jews that they donít use milk. And as per guidance we received itís perfectly ok to enjoy it. Their regular chocolate is kosher. (side point, shockingly many people around Guatemala speak some Hebrew and many have star of david necklaces) this was an amazing fully hands on experience for the kids and they had a great time.

With the anti-government protests brewing we were told to that if we want to go anywhere near lake Atitlan we should leave Antigua at night so we donít get stuck. So that evening we headed out to Panajachel. We did get stuck somewhere along the way due to the protests. The detour costed us an extra hour, and three dogs their life  :) the whole way took us a few really bumpy hours with a few passengers throwing up out the windows. Good thing for easy sliding windows. We ended up getting to our hotel probably 2am. We stayed at the Porta Hotel Del Lago which was pretty decent for this place on the globe.

Wednesday:
All of our rooms had views of the lake which was nice to see waking up. My baby woke a bit early so I left the room not to wake the rest of the family. I went for a walk and saw a guy walking two goats, followed by a dog. And the two goats had foam cups on their horns. I would still love to know why
We davened, gave the kids some easy food we brought along and then headed out to our private boat we rented for the day to take us to see all the villages. Since it was sukkos the men needed to wait until we reach San Pedro to eat. Our first stop was San Marcus, we then headed to San Juan, followed by San Pedro. All three were basically the same. We saw small shops with local tchotchkis, colored and bright stores, tuk-tuks, and many dogs. By San Pedro we got to eat lunch by chabad. It was good to finally have some real dairy as Antigua didnít have. Good thing we didnít end up there over yom tov because it was a real dump and smelly place. I know for many they enjoy this, for us it wouldnít work.

By the time 2pm came around and we were ready to leave San Pedro to have our boat take us back to Panajchel it started getting cloudy. We were told not to be in the lake by 3pm because it becomes rowdy and starts pouring. It started closer to 2pm and it was a bumpy ride back to panajechel. Itís fascinating how it goes from beautiful sunny to cloudy and storm every single day on schedule in the rainy season.

We got back to Panajachel, packed up and was hoping to leave back to Antigua. Due to the political protests we had to wait until the protestors went home after 7pm. We hung out at our hotel and they were very nice to give us a room for the kids to sit and watch. It was pouring outside so it wasnít like we were able to chill. About 6 oíclock the weather relaxed a bit so we went to the town square where there was some festival and concert going on. Once our guide told us the protestors went home we headed back to Antigua.

Amazing Views!


please help me understand this









Sunny to cloudy pretty quickly


Definitely felt safe  ;D







Thursday:
We started our day by going to Filadelfia coffee tour. We got there via uber. All local ubers were pennies. It was out of season for most of the coffee process, but we still got to see how it grows and got to pick coffee beans from the trees, which was very interesting. After that we went back to our villa to finish packing up and to head to the airport later in the evening.





Online UKinNYS

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Re: Guatemala With the Family
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2024, 06:47:33 PM »
Nice TR!

I think we just missed each other - was there 2nd days.

100% agree Chabad Antigua is something special!

Offline efflpetzel

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Re: Guatemala With the Family
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2024, 01:07:00 AM »
Great TR!!!

Offline sam28

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Re: Guatemala With the Family
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2024, 12:56:37 PM »
Great TR thanks for all the details will put Guatemala on by bucking list. How many days is enough to cover ?

Online Mordyk

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Re: Guatemala With the Family
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2024, 01:23:18 PM »
Great TR thanks for all the details will put Guatemala on by bucking list. How many days is enough to cover ?
Thanks!

probably 5 days or so. really depends if you plan a full day hike. But on top of that definitely include Shabbos at Chabad Antigua
#TYH

Offline Luvtotravel

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Re: Guatemala With the Family
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2024, 09:18:33 PM »
thanx for this most helpful report! what are the protests about and are they still ongoing?
Don't wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.

Online Mordyk

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Re: Guatemala With the Family
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2024, 09:21:22 AM »
thanx for this most helpful report! what are the protests about and are they still ongoing?
I dont think they are still ongoing. The protests were against the voted in president. nothing major, but they did cause a ruckus
#TYH