Antigua, the former capital of Guatemala. Spanish lessons in the language school, ascent of the volcano Agua. Chicken bus and diving course at Lago Atitlán.

Travelogue Guatemala 1998
Antigua, Lago Atitlán

March 17th, 1998, Quick report

Hello to Europe!

Here’s a quick report on how it’s been going.

So I arrived in Guatemala City on Tuesday night, found someone with the same destination, and then drove to Antigua with someone holding an Antigua sign and wearing an airport security pass around his neck.

There we spent one night in a small pension, went for breakfast the next morning and then to the school where Andres was. They then showed us a few families and I had to lose out (she is a woman and much older), but I am now very happy with my family, because it was only the long way to the shower that put me off. The food is always pretty similar (rice and beans), but once you get used to it, it’s really really good. Just seems to be solid good food, it’s also amazing how little food can get you by and make you feel really splendid.

Antigua Guatemala at a glance against the backdrop of the Agua volcano.
Antigua at a glance. The volcano Agua always tells you where south is.

About school. At first, I used to take six hours a day. That was way too much, because I was bombarded with over 150 words every day, so there wasn’t enough time to study. Four hours from now.

view of the courtyard of the Escuela Cabaguil language school in Antigua Guatemala
breakfast break at my school During the lessons, a teacher and a student sit at each one of the small tables.
Teaching situation at Escuela Cabaguil language school in Antigua Guatemala
This is what it looks like when you sit at the table for class. This is my teacher Carlos.

This weekend I went to Vulcano de Agua with a couple of people from here that I just talked to on the bus. They were insanely fast and we only took just over 3 hours for 2000m of altitude despite the fact that they always waited for me and took a lot more breaks. Just as much back down again as I was just done. Unfortunately summit totally in clouds. So it was pure sport.

Volker with a group of locals inside the crater of the volcano Agua near Antigua Guatemala.
break inside the (as you can see obviously) inactive volcano

Next Friday I will go to Lago Atitlán and do my first diving course. My half hour in front of the computer is almost up. Therefore more next time ….

All the best and love from Antigua, Guatemala


March 18th 1998, Continuation

And hello again!

You will have peace from me until next Tuesday, as I am going to Lago Atitlán over the long weekend (from noon on Thursday) to do some diving.

I don’t think I have answered the questions about the weather yet: It was here the first days really very cold (that is, the wind was cold, the sun hot) comparable probably with the very warm days last month in Munich. Now it has warmed up a bit, but still not enough to make me want to run around in short sleeves early in the morning. My language skills are already getting much better. Since yesterday I finally have a way to talk in the past tense as well, it makes a lot of things a lot easier.

Well, I’ve had it again, no one from you has answered yet either.

Best regards to Germany,


March 25th, 1998, Back from diving

And as always, we salute at this point all those viewers who tuned in after the commercial break. Here is a brief summary of what has happened so far:

Volker flew to Guatemala and started learning Spanish. But what happened next?

Well, last Thursday I made my first major trip in a chicken bus. It’s all pretty simple, except Rica would have died more than once at the bus driver’s driving style. What’s a little weird is that everyone always knows exactly where you’re going. As soon as I got to the local bus station, someone came up to me “Panajachel?” What can I say, I am a gringo, Panajachel is Gringojachel. Even if you sit on the bus for only ten seconds too long, everyone immediately tells you that you should actually get off here.

Interior view of a chicken bus in Guatemala: A chicken is tied behind the driver's seat.
Gringos call the regular buses here chicken buses, with good reason.

From Pana I went by boat to Santa Cruez (again I paid the gringo price of 10 Quetzales, about three marks. On the way back it was then only Q 3). And ended up in a small hotel, which looks as if it would stand in the middle of the jungle. No electricity, no hot water. But there (unfortunately) everybody speaks English, in general it seems to me that there are more foreigners than locals at the whole lake. Although I didn’t catch any of the fantastic color changes the lake is supposed to have, this is certainly a wonderful place. Not necessarily very interesting for diving, but challenging and maybe not so bad for learning, because you concentrate on the essentials. I took a few photos, you can have a look at them (the camera is not wide-angled enough to take photos of my rooms …).

hotel La Iguana Perdida, Lago Atitlán, Guatemala
the hotel La Iguana Perdida
sunset over Lago Atitlán surrounded by volcanoes, Guatemala
sunset over the lake surrounded by volcanoes

Since yesterday I am back and have already had my first Spanish lessons. However, I was quite surprised when I went through my calendar this morning: I still have a little more than two weeks of classes, then I go to Honduras and then my trip will already come to its end. So I’ve got to hurry to get everything in. So I’m going to Tikal this weekend, two days. Again I will book only the flight and the shuttle to the airport, because the travel agencies always charge a lot of money if you choose complete packages. But this trip will certainly not be cheap. Oddly enough, the only decent book I’ve found on Tikal is in German.

That’s it again. See you soon and best regards to all,


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