If I destroy you, I destroy myself.
If I honor you, I honor myself.

Hunbatz Men. Mayan


Arriving in Guatemala

For anyone flying into Guatemala City airport, I highly recommend booking a window seat with a good view. The landscape of Guatemala is truly amazing, and you get an even better view than from any drone. I didn’t book any seat (for extra charge), but due to the requested assistance service, my seat has been changed at the gate for one of the premium seats at the front which have not been booked by anyone.


Assistance Service at the airports of Cancún (Mexico) and Guatemala City

I took a direct flight from Cancún to Guatemala City with the cheap airline Volaris. The website of Volaris is quite weak in Europe, a VPN connection to Mexico or Central America is an advantage. 😉

The assistance service both at Cancún and Guatemala City airport was excellent. I realized that the wheelchairs used in Munich or Madrid fit for average sized Europeans. However, if you are a little more overweight or have a not “streamlined” body, you might not fit into the wheelchair provided at the mentioned European airports. However, in Central America, the wheelchairs were much larger (and felt more convenient).

Cancún has specific seats for peoples with disabilities, which is quite fortunate as the waiting area tends to be crowded all the time. I didn’t use any extra service to get into the plane, since I climbed the stairs on my own, so I’m not able to share experiences on this.


San Pedro La Laguna, Sololá, Guatemala

My morning flight was rescheduled to an afternoon flight, so I had to take a taxi to San Pedro because I was too late for all the tourist buses to Antigua and from Antigua to San Pedro La Laguna. I asked Rene, the owner of my Spanish school, to organize the taxi for me, as I felt more comfortable and secure this way. I had my first conversations in Spanish during the 4hrs drive from the airport to San Pedro La Laguna. Occasionally, it felt as if we are on high altitude, and it was quite foggy. I later learned that this “fog” was indeed a cloud, and we were driving at approx. 3000 m altitude.

After 30 °C in Cancún, it felt surprisingly cold in Guatemala. It is indeed very cold at a certain altitude and away from the coast. It took me a few days to get used to the climate and temperature until it didn’t feel as “cold” anymore. San Pedro is one of many little villages at Lake Atitlán in Guatemala, a stunningly amazing area. I am going to write an own article solely about San Pedro and another one regarding things to do in the Lake Atitlán area.

To keep it short here, people in San Pedro are very friendly and helpful. Their Spanish is very clear and comparatively slow, so it is indeed a convenient place to start with Spanish at a more basic level. The town is built on a mountain, the extinct volcano San Pedro. This is why it is quite steep everywhere in town.


My Spanish School: Orbita

Why I picked Orbita in San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

There are so many options for Spanish schools all over Latin America. My criteria to identify possible schools were:

  • quite clear Spanish spoken in the country
  • people known as speaking Spanish more slowly
  • nice location to do some activities during my free-time
  • one-on-one teaching (much more efficient than group classes since many beginners are at quite different levels)
  • good recommendations online
  • option to stay with a family (very convenient to practice daily Spanish)
  • well-accessible by bus (just in case I don’t like it and want to leave, etc.)
  • bonus: personal recommendation

Guatemala is one of the Latin American countries which is known for quite clear pronunciation of Spanish at a low pace. Moreover, Guatemala offers breathtaking nature and multiple language schools. I considered Antigua first, however, a friend of a friend recommended Orbita as she has studied Spanish here before, so I focused on the Lake Atitlán area. The majority of language schools are indeed located in San Pedro La Laguna. Within this town, I checked for 1:1 teaching options, staying with families, and, moreover, where in town the school is actually located, whether at the shore of the lake with a nice view.

After some research on my own, Orbita was indeed my first choice and I contacted Rene, the owner, for possible course dates. Rene is a very fun and trustworthy man who patiently answered all my open questions and even arranged my taxi from the Airport to San Pedro kind of last minute. Orbita offers high quality Spanish courses for a quite reasonable price with the add-on of “class-rooms” with a quite cool view across the lake. I decided to stay with a family, which was definitely a very good choice.


Learning Spanish

I have to admit that I already knew some basic vocabulary in Spanish, I didn’t start from zero. However, my level was still beginner /A1. Within 2 weeks of 1:1 teaching with my teacher Faby I managed to reach A2 level. She suggested continuing on B1-level courses at any other language school I might attend at a later time during my trip.

Faby was a very friendly and patient teacher answering to all my questions. I took 4 hrs of classes 5 days a week for 2 weeks. The morning classes (preferred by the majority of students) started at 8:30. After 2 hours of studying there was a little break which was one of the most fun parts at school: all students and teachers sat together for some coffee or tea and have a snack. These snacks were quite delicious, and I don’t remember any repetition of snacks during my two weeks at Orbita.

Except for one girl from Belgium and me, all other students were English native speakers. Keep in mind that the teachers’ first language is not Spanish, but the Mayan language de San Pedro, Tz’utujil. Don’t expect any teacher to be able to teach you with the help of another language than English. You need to be quite fluent in English. This is because you study Spanish based on English, you need to be able to translate English-German (or another language) yourself.

Staying with a Family

I am very happy with my host family, a couple with their two girls and the husband’s parents. Linda is an amazing chef, I get the best possible regional food. Her husband has lived in the States for nine years and helps me to translate new words which I don’t know yet. He also told me many interesting stories about San Pedro, its people, history, and development. The kids are quite little and enjoy playing with me. These kids’ games of repeating certain things many times are quite helpful for practicing Spanish, honestly. 😉

Activities of Orbita

Orbita offers to organize afternoon activities for the students. However, they might change every week and are dependent on how many students would like to join. Certain events require a certain amount of participants to actually happen. During my two weeks, we only had two activities in the first week. During my second week, the other students were not as keen to join any activities, so I checked out places and sights on my own.

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