My Guatemala Bucket List

By | April 14, 2017

I’ve been neglecting my blog in favor of real life lately. Sorry. I did manage to hang out in Guatemala for ten days and wrote up my Guatemala Bucket List if you care.

My Guatemala Bucket List

1. Strengthen one friendship. 

This is how you make friends: ask people to do things with you and say yes when people ask you to do things with them. Rinse and repeat with the same person to make a close friend.

My friend Z asked if I wanted to hang out with her in Guatemala. I said yes. We hung out and made a bunch of memories and now we’re better friends. List item crossed off.

We look so happy! Because we are.

Country I’ve never visited + the company of someone I already know and like = winning life.

2. Participate in a water activity or two that scares you.

We went to Semuc Champey, a “cave, swimming river float combo tour” that Z claimed as her favorite spot on the planet.

I know how to swim. I’ve taken adult swimming lessons more times than I can count. I can do all the strokes and the treading. I mean, technically, I know how. I’ve done laps in a pool and tackled all my mini goals until I crossed off “Learn to Swim” on my life bucket list.

It’s prettier than it looks.

Water is still scary. Whenever we tango though, the fear abates just a little more. It was just over a year ago that snorkelling went from “a terror to put myself through” to fun. Conquering fear is one of the best feelings in the world. Swimming in dark, unexpectedly deep caves with only candles, tubing down the river, and swimming in natural pools was excellent. This is one of my greatest accomplishments to date. Just so we’re clear, I met a 10-year-old on the tour who did all these things, so you might not think it’s difficult.

3. Take Spanish lessons.

For the bigger life goal “learn a foreign language.” One on one with a natural speaker is the best way to learn. I want to do this for a couple of months somewhere so I can cross it off once and for all.

4. Pretend you live in Antigua.

We spent the majority of our time in Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whatever that means. I’ve heard grand things about this place from more than one person, but I don’t really get the appeal. Too many cars and too many stray dogs in too small an area with wobbly roads that require tennis shoes for walking.

5. Play so many games.

Trivia at the hostel bar in Lanquin, giant jenga in a bar in Antigua, pool in San Pedro, cards everywhere. Even though I didn’t have to make friends because I was with a friend, I still managed to snag a few new friends.

6. See why people say Guatemala City is meh.

All of the capitals in Central America are apparently pretty meh. The soul is in the surrounding areas. I still had a pleasant day in Guatemala City, walking around and hanging out with Z and our Airbnb hosts, making up drinks. It’s the people. The people.

7. See an animal. Preferably wild.

I saw lots of stray dogs as previously mentioned. And fewer cats. Oh, there were wild fish in Semuc Champey that gave you a free pedicure if you let your feet dangle in the water. They eat your dead skin. I think that may be it.

8. Fail at your “not buying more earrings” resolution.

Oh well. I’ve been really good in the last few countries, but I’m a sucker for earrings that look like things.

Yeah, I really didn’t need to buy these.

I bought these little guitar earrings in San Pedro, a town that sits on a gorgeous lake in the crater of a volcano.

9. Eat at several different Taco Bells and decide that Guatemala is pretty great.

Imagine being on a bus for seven hours and hopping off at a cute little mall in a cute little town called Coban for a quick meal. Imagine scanning the directory and seeing Taco Bell! Yup, that feeling you’re trying to articulate is happiness.

Love is in the air in Antigua, Guatemala.

There was also one in Antigua and several in Guatemala City. Make me your spokesperson, Taco Bell. I heart you. Vegetarian fast food, spicy, delicious and satisfying. I don’t understand why you haven’t conquered the world yet.

You complete me.

23 thoughts on “My Guatemala Bucket List

  1. Dan Sherman

    My wife and I had a laugh about your characterization of Antigua. My family and I (my two daughters, my wife and I) are on a 6 year trip around the world, homeschooling our kids through full time travel. Anyway, we spent a week or so in Antigua. The only good memory we have of the actual town is the lovely B&B we found there. It was gorgeous. We loved Lake Atitlan (now THAT was an amazing place). But we can’t really figure out what the appeal of Antigua is, either. The smog alone makes you want to hightail it out of there, quickly. The charm of ALL the roads being made from rocks (cobblestone is only quaint if it’s relatively even) and the architecture…etc, can only be enjoyed if you don’t break your ankle or your lungs in the process.

    Oh, and the Taco Bell thing. I’m sooooo glad to find another American that doesn’t turn up their nose at the slightest whiff of any successful American fast food eatery. They’re successful for a reason. Duh! Of course, I do love to see what the locals cook up, but there’s NOTHING better than a little familiarity from time to time. We went to Wendy’s in the town square in Antigua many times.

    Anyway, this blog post was a particularly fun read for us. We had a good laugh. Thanks!

    We are 2.5 years into our 6 year journey. In case you want to get some ideas of where to travel, you might want to check out our 200+ posts blog (so far) at


    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Thanks for this comment! I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see people traveling with kids. Your site has a TON of content. Thanks for sharing!

  2. jlcollinsnh


    I see my suggestion didn’t make the cut for your post…


    Well, I liked Antigua enough that after visiting the first time, 4 months later I went back for another 4 weeks. But walking on the uneven, narrow walkways is a challenge.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      There is some excellent food in Antigua. Jim recommended a place called Sobremesa, a quaint place run by an intimidatingly accomplished friend of his. 🙂

  3. Cathy Gillis

    Looks like you’re having a great time. I love those earrings, good choice. And someday I’d like to do a residential language immersion, too!!

  4. Mike Geers

    Wow, so a bikini shot, feet, and hands…this is secretly your own personal eharmony! Brilliant.

  5. Ally

    Lovely manicure. Somehow it just seems wrong to me to go to a Taco Bell in South America . I’m thinking there’s got to be plenty of inexpensive fast vegetarian fare all over. Then again, I remember being all a flutter when seeing a Wendy’s in Germany 25 years ago.

  6. Laszlo

    What a hoot! Antigua is so tacky and historic. Clamor of the tuk-tuks — motorized chariots — running endlessly on the cobble-stone lined streets, the cool breeze off the old Spanish conquistador architecture in the touristy areas downtown, skirted by unpaved walled barrios with no street signs, and even further out, dream-like meadows down view of the mountain pass just before you reach Antigua. In the tourist stops by the volcanoes, they are also selling those egg shaped magnets which when you rub them together emit an eerie X-files type of metallic sound that feel resonant, warm and familiar, as when after a long day on foot in a strange land you pass through the gates of Taco Bell.

  7. Angele

    Oh, I left a little piece of my heart in Guatemala last year. Most of that piece is in and around Lake Atitlán, but I do have some fond memories of Antigua. The idea of apprenticing in the tiny chocolate factory inside Fernando’s Kaffee almost stopped me from getting on my flight home 🙂

  8. Simon Kenton

    “It’s prettier than it looks.” Doubtless it is so, but it looks very pretty to me.

  9. Kat

    Great post!!! Ohh please come to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica!!! No Taco Bell here but would love to meet you in person!!! I just started following your blog and you inspire me in so many ways. Thank you so much!!!

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I loved reading this comment. 🙂 Costa Rica is on my list and I’ll look you up when I’m there!


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