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Practical Questions-

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Practical Questions-

We are Nurses,married 35 years, very basic Spanish skills used in inner city Boston as Visiting Nurses , spending Feb.,2005 in Antigua/Atitlan for Spanish/cultural immersion.#1- good places to stay for first two days in Antigua #2 recommendations on good Schools with home stays both locations #3 back packs or suitcases? #4 mosquito/insect protection? #5 what to wear - Thanks for any suggestions!

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1. Re: Practical Questions-

Any good travel guide will have suggestions on what to wear and do. As for places to stay, it depends on your budget. Again, travel guides are a good source of info. What to carry depends on your habits and level of comfort. In general, in guatemala, more means less i.e. the less you carry, the more you can buy in terms of local textiles, stuff to wear and so on. As for the mosquito factor, i guess that's really about what you want to do. Malaria areas are not in the main tourist track. You'll need to tailor your travels accordingly. Be cautious about revealing your healthcare background to locals unless you wish to be inundated by people seeking consultations with or without a reason...

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2. Re: Practical Questions-

I too am a nurse of many years and will be in Antigua for 2 months starting January 5,2005 for a Spanish immersion program. So can give you more on the spot info at that time. I did consult a travel clinic and they suggested Sawyer insect repellent if going into an area with mosquito. It also comes in a spray form that you spray onto clothing . The repellent protection last thru 5 washings.


Chicago, IL
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3. Re: Practical Questions-

I just returned from Antigua and I highly recommend Alameda Spanish Academy for Spanish classes. They have a home stay program. Let me know if you have any other questions.

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4. Re: Practical Questions-

I'll be back in Antigua in January of '05...my 5th trip. I have no recommendation on hotels or schools but I will advise carrying a backpack rather than a suitcase. They are much easier to deal with and will force you to limit your packing. You can always buy a bag in Antigua to carry your purchases back to the US. I've never been bothered by insects/mosquitos while in the Antigua area. February is in the dry season, so I doubt bugs will be an issue for you guys. The elevation is 5000 ft or so and the temperature is moderate. Clothing is more a matter of taste than need. I carry 3 outfits. One to wear, one to wash and one for an emergency. Antiguans are modest people. I'd suggest long pants or skirts rather than shorts. It will make it easier to relate while in Guatemalan homes and avoid potential embarassment. Take one nice outfit for dining out. If you're planning to deal almost exclusively with Guatemalans you won't need or want fancy clothing. FYI, I'm in my 50's, not a young backpacker. Take my advice in that light.

Washington DC
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5. Re: Practical Questions-

Having just come back, walking around with cameras and digital video equipment, I can tell you it seems very safe and the bugs were never a problem, I brought mosquito spray but nver had to use it. Backpacks are better than cases, but a roller suitcase or two will do, the cars are small so use medium sized luggage, otherwise you may find it will not fit the trunk!

Check with the GT Tourist office in NYC for deals and places.

I hope you like bananas, oranges, pineapple, coffee and rum!

Take good hiking shoes if you are trekking up to the volcanoes and a swimsuit and sandals for the beaches, enjoy the friendly folks, and SAVE money on the artistic folkcrafts available at the special city-school-sponsored folk arts market in Antigua!

There will find everything under the sun and at very low prices!

While I was there the local currency was about 8 to the USD, too. I am a SWM, age 50, who speaks virtually no Spanish yet.

Stevenage, United...
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6. Re: Practical Questions-

We went to Guatemala two years ago and are going again this February. Our son lives and works in a village at lake Atitlan. He says Guatemalans like to have eye contact, so recommends not wearing sunglasses.

Indianapolis, IN
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7. Re: Practical Questions-

I've been to Antigua probably 12 or 13 times and taken classes there too. I always used Christian Spanish Academy. Fantastic curriculum. Great teachers. Wonderful people. Really make you feel at home.

As someone else said - you're at elevation and don't need to worry about mosquitoes.

Definintely backpacks

What to wear - it can be chilly, hot, rainy, and sunny, all within a couple hours of each other. I always took a light jacket which was water repellent.

Los Angeles
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8. Re: Practical Questions-

Before I arrived to Antigua, I had already emailed the school ahead of time and they already had a home picked out for me. I didn't want to deal with the hassle of trying to lug my luggage around the town while looking for a place to stay. Centro Linguistico La Union was the school that I studied at for one month a couple of years ago and for 3 weeks this past November. Both times I had excellent teachers and learned a lot. They also have very reasonably priced weekend trips that they take the students on. It is maybe $10 more than the travel agencies in town, but we always had Guatemalans going with us, too who worked at the school, so I felt safer in that regard, plus it was better for practicing spanish and learning more of the culture. I brought suitcases, but I left them at the home I was staying and took a small, over the shoulder bag for weekend trips. Probably a backpack is easier if you're going to take all your stuff with you everywhere you go. As far as what to wear... the first time I went I took the clothes from home that I didn't wear much and tried to be comfortable, but when I got there, I realized that I was really under-dressed. True, there are some backpackers who wear like, the same clothes everyday or whatever, but the Guatemalans in Antigua like to look fairly trendy. If you wear tennis shoes or flip-flops, they will label you as a tourist in a second. This last time I went, I didn't wear tennis shoes or flip-flops, and wore jeans with cute, but modest shirts and a lot of the people thought that I was from there or another Latin American country. So, my advice would be to wear exactly what you wear in the U.S. as long as it is modest - and forget all the jewelry at home. It's too much of a target.

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