Sunday, January 10, 2010


Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Now that we’ve all left Mexico it is probably a good time to learn Spanish and we think the best way to learn is through an immersion school. We chose the San Pedro Spanish School, which is located on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. We picked this school for two reasons: it was recommended by others who attended and because there is little opportunity to speak English.

One-on-one in a tropical setting

Antigua Guatemala also offers immersion schools but a lot of English is spoken there, which kind of defeats the meaning of immersion. When we enrolled for two weeks a few years ago we selected the home-stay program along with 4 hours of instruction per day. We recommend that if a couple is going to attend that they have separate instructors so you each have your own learning experience.

Public dock in San Pedro

Lake Atitlan is a large deep lake with three nearby volcanoes and there are spectacular views of the volcanoes and cultivated hillsides. The lake is surrounded by many villages, in which the Maya culture is still prevalent and traditional dress is worn. The Maya people of Atitlán are predominantly Tz'utujil and Kaqchikel and Spanish is their second language so expect the local’s pronunciation of Spanish to be different from the Spanish you will learn at school.  Don't worry about finding your around San Pedro. You can ask one of the local children (if they haven't already found you) to act as a guide and we pay them a small tip.

Girls wearing traditional skirts

Old woman in the open market

Bringing firewood from the forest

. To visit the other villages you take an inexpensive covered panga from the public dock. Each town has something different to offer. The open markets and small towns make for a truly unforgettable “National Geographic” experience.

Local buyers

Colorful offerings

Women at the weaving co-op

It is a day-trip from San Salvador to Antigua then another day-trip from Antigua to Panajachel where you can stay overnight before taking a panga across the lake to San Pedro. Panajachel is a touristy town with all the associated trappings and really doesn’t have much to offer. You can make arrangements for travel at any of a number of travel agencies in Antigua. You can check out the school by clicking on the link under "rally links".

1 comment:

  1. I would say that Pana is a great sightseeing destination!