What to Pack for Study Abroad, Guatemala

Lake Atitlán and Chichicastenango

Day 1

This morning we made the 3-hour drive from Antigua to Lago Atitlán. We stayed in Panajachel, a small town right on the shore of the lake. Upon our arrival, we quickly dropped our luggage off at our hotel before hopping on a boat. I’d only seen water twice in the past four months, and I was amazed at how much I’d missed it! Not one, but TWO volcanos rest on the shores of Lago Atitlán, and it makes for an incredible view!


Our boat idled in a sheltered cove so that we could jump in for a swim. The water felt amazing, even though it was December!


Then we took the boat to small town on the lake named San Antonio Palopó. We spent the afternoon exploring the village, which is well known for its pottery.


After stocking up on pottery as Christmas gifts for family back home, I wandered around some other shops and a small but beautiful church.


There was also a huge Christmas tree that was quite tacky, but it was nice to see something so festive. After all, it hardly felt like Christmas in the beautiful, mild weather!


On the boat ride back, my bag of pottery fell off of the seat next to me due to some waves, and one of my pottery bowls broke. Luckily, I had three and a half hours to shop in Panajachel before dinner, so I was able to replace the broken bowl (and buy a few more pieces of pottery while I was at it!)



Day 2

Today we had a quick breakfast at the hotel before driving to Chichicastenango (about an hour away), where we wandered what is arguably Guatemala’s best-known market.


This was my last big excursion before my one-week trip back home for Christmas, so it was the PERFECT place to stock up on gifts! I bought dolls in traditional Mayan attire for my younger cousins, chocolate, coffee, and other traditional treats for my aunts and uncles, and traditional jewelry and accessories for my older cousins.


Then we ate lunch at a place with a TV showing the quarter-final game, which was Antigua vs. one of Guatemala City’s teams. We arrived just in time to see the winning goal by Antigua through the end of the game, which was awesome. The weekend after this trip we got to see Antigua play in person during the semi-final game, which was incredible (pictured below). We were even featured in the local newspaper, for a second time during our travels this year!


After lunch in Chichicastenango, we made the 4-hour drive back to Antigua. I had a chance to reorganize my room and unpack, and then we went to my host-aunt Tía Esperanza’s house for dinner. She lived within walking distance of my host family, as did my maternal host grandparents. My maternal grandparents back in the states live almost 3,000 miles away from me, so I love how close all my host-relatives in Guatemala are! Living with a host family is an incredible way to experience the local lifestyle and culture, in addition to being a fabulous way to connect with locals!

1 thought on “Lake Atitlán and Chichicastenango

  1. So, this gives me great enthusiasm for duplicating that Guatemalan Christmas tree! I’ll start working on it right away! (I think that they have chicken wire by the roll at Ace Hardware….)

Leave a Comment