Author Topic: Guatemala City - don't passover!  (Read 1201 times)

Offline RoshPinah

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Guatemala City - don't passover!
« on: December 17, 2023, 12:28:25 PM »
IMHO (and supported by many TRs here) El Salvador and Guatemala are even more beautiful and adventure-filled than Costa RIca. They're also much cheaper in terms of flights and accomodation (and a little closer to Miami). Jewish infrastructure is almost as good though personally we never travel without a bunch of granola bars and a few packets of tuna - just in case.

I'll focus on Guatemala City (rather than Tikal or Antigua) since those have been covered here extensively. The capital is a great place for a long weekend or a few days and the hotels and Shul are a 5 minute uber from the airport.  Our friends just signed up for an inexpensive Pesach program based at the Shul in the City... if we hadn't just been we'd definitely sign up to join them.

Guatemala City, like San Salvador is a fun cosmopolitan city and has a beautiful national palace that you can tour for a around $6.  Unlike San Salvador, it has a great tram system (which we took for fun one time because honestly the ubers are so cheap to get around town and even to/from Antigua) which makes getting to historic downtown a breeze from the hotel district where you have the choice of every brand of hotel. Even better, Guatemala's Jewish community is centered around a huge beautiful Shul right in the middle of the hotel district.  In addition to the palace, downtown you'll find a railroad museum which my kids really enjoyed while I took our oldest to the nearby holocaust museum. On the way, we stopped for a quick photo op at America's largest mogen dovid in a public square. (Guatemala is one of the most pro-Israel countries on earth and this is just one of many Jewish symbols and flags that you'll see in somewhat random places around the country.)

The Shul has a cafe - just check what times it's open before you go.
Davening was really nice on Shabbos, as was the kiddush lunch, and seudah shlishis fare was waaay better than in my Shul back home.
Also enjoyed a great shiur from a visiting Dayan who seemed to be a good friend of the Rov of the shul, himself a big talmid chochom, as is his son who serves as the Assistant Rav. The shiur was in hebrew - most of the Shul members seem to speak or at least understand both Hebrew and English.
The nice thing about the campus is lots of awesome play areas for our kids including climbing frame, trampoline, soccer, table-tennis, basketball court etc. That kept them nicely entertained during the shiur  :D

For motzai Shabbos there are upscale malls nearby if that's your thing.

Archaeological mavens will want to visit Museo Popol Vuh (takes about an hour) and/or a site called KJ(Kaminal Juyu). We didn't have time for the National Police archives but it came highly recommended by friends of ours that were there last year.  They also walked from their hotel to the nearby zoo (approx 15-20 minutes) which they really enjoyed.

Definitely go to Paseo Cayala (approx 25 minutes by uber). It's a modern shopping district where you can zipline, windowshop, kids can go on the fairground rides, and older ones can do lasertag, paintballing etc.

Final note: While anyone that's spent time in the capitals of Central America knows that the reports of gang violence are mostly old and/or overblown (or at least that the gangs don't dare touch the tourists), the incoming President was voted in on an anti-corruption platform and if he cleans up the few bad neighborhoods that remain in the city as promised then I think airfare/hotels will go up in price (like they've been doing in El Salvador). So book now, while it's still a bargain!