Visit San Pedro La Laguna, Learn Spanish, Have Fun, Do Good!

View of Lake Atitlan from the Spanish School

View of Lake Atitlan from the Cooperativa Spanish School office

If you have been planning a trip to San Pedro La Laguna at Lake Atitlan to learn Spanish or just have some fun…DO IT!  The roads into the town can be a bit rough, but you can make it in. For years San Pedro was only accessible by boat from the town of Panajachel, that is still a very good option. My first year in San Pedro, 2004, I really considered it more of an island. Even with the road it still is like an island… whether it’s Paradise Island, Fantasy Island or that Island from Lost, I’m not quite sure.

My friends at the Cooperativa Spanish School have been getting cancellations because of people concerned over the landslide. DO NOT CANCEL YOUR SPANISH SCHOOL!  Come to the country, be prepared for some travel delays, but please come. I will say if you prefer all your plans to go exactly as you had thought they would, have giant rolling suitcases or hate even the slightest hint of adventure…then yes, you stay home. Everyone else should come with an open heart and mind ready to encounter an amazing country with beautiful people, stunning scenery and, yes, quite possibly the makings of a great travel adventure story waiting for you. Considering the nature of travel in Guatemala I recommend you get a good comfortable backpack and bring no more than you can fit in it. It will make travel and getting from one place to another soo much easier.  The big thing is to be flexible with times and dates. If it’s raining like hell out, stay put and wait till the storm clears a bit.  The rainy season in Guatemala is not very predictable as of late, but generally it rains for an hour or 2 in the afternoon and you get clear mornings. The panorama of Panajachel in my last post was taken during peak rainy season, early in the day.

Back to my friends at the Cooperative of Guatemalan Spanish Teachers, or the Cooperativa School in San Pedro. I received the following email from Mynor, one of the teachers and administrators of the Spanish school.

” The road is a bit slow but the difference in the city trip to San Pedro is 30 minutes. We have had cancellations of 8 people because many websites say it is not possible to reach San Pedro. Businesses, schools and hotels are working normally.  In much of the town of San Pedro everything is back to normal, except for the affected families.  The landslide occurred at five or seven minutes walk out of town and that the center is not taking chances. The water supply for most of the town started working normally yesterday. Our wi-fi internet service at the school is up and working well too.”

The Cooperativa has a great record of community service in good and bad times at San Pedro. They have a donation link on their website for some of their social projects. All of the money currently being taken in is going for direct aid relief to the families affected by the slide. All money donated goes directly to the affected people, no “costs of administration” are taken out of your donation. I have no doubt they will have volunteer opportunities for you to work directly on recovery from Tropical Storm Agatha.


Visit San Pedro La Laguna, Learn Spanish, Have Fun, Do Good! — 7 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this post! I’m arriving in Guatemala City on June 16th, and am heading directly to San Pedro to study Spanish for an indefinite period of time. I was a little worried, but now I’m just more excited to get there. Bring on the adventure =)

    • Leah, when you get to San Pedro make sure you check out the Sunday Bar-B-Q at La Piscina, very fun and tasty with even vegetarian options. If you do a home stay with the school, Sunday is often the day off from cooking so it’s a great option. It’s near the Santiago dock…you’ll understand when you get there. Have fun, don’t worry, a whole new world is about to open up to you!

  2. Thanks for the daily updates, Dennis. Just a few words go a long way in easing any worries people might have.

    As for MaryJo’s comments: I lived in San Pedro for most of last year. I make my living as a writer and found it easy to remain connected to the outside world. My office of choice was La Piscina, a swimming pool-bar-oasis on the less travelled side of town.

    I would arrive around 11, swim for an hour or so, then work for about four hours on my computer using a speedy wifi connection. Once I closed the laptop, I’d join all my new friends at the bar, and wonder why it took me so long to leave the cubicle life behind.

    As for housing… there are dozens of affordable options. Easy peasy.



  3. Thanks so much for this post. Before I ever found your blog, we had already chosen the Cooperativa for learning Spanish and had emailed back and forth with them a couple of times. Unfortunately, we can’t come now–we certainly would if we could! We’re planning the first of the year and assuming there will still be much need for rebuilding–a job my husband has skill in and is looking forward to.

    We’re planning on staying for the 90-day visa and probably returning after that. My biggest concern is wi-fi as I have an internet marketing biz and we can’t hang out indefinitely in San Pedro if I can’t keep that biz going. Obviously I’ll be bringing my computer. Suggestions from you about anything from computer access to housing for an extended period is much appreciated!

    I’m so sorry people canceled. Not o.k.

    • Mary Jo, one of the great things about San Pedro is that it’s wired, or I should say Wi-Fi’d. There are many internet cafes with wireless as well as several restaurants. D’noz restaurant right near the dock has great breakfast, lunch and dinners AND free wi-fi, or free when you at least buy a cup of coffee. The owners are long time residents and really great folks.

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