Santa Elena Budget

Hotel Continental (Map p275 7926 0095 6a Av south of Calzada Virgilio Rodr guez Macal s d US 5 9, with fan, bathroom & TV US 9 12 () A 51-room hotel with friendly reception staff, the Continental has a range of rooms on three floors along a courtyard painted in vaguely refreshing shades of blue and green. Private bathrooms are good and clean, but there's no hot water. Hotel San Juan (Map p275 7926 2146 2a Calle s d from US 6 8, with bathroom US 9 11) Another cheap Santa Elena hotel, but less...

Volunteering Our Top Picks

There's a wealth of volunteering opportunities in Guatemala. A lot of them center on education and environmental issues. Here are a few off-beat ones that may appeal AIDG (www.aidg.org) Works with Guatemalan engineering students to make renewable energy solutions from recycled materials. Ak' Tenamit (www.aktenamit.org) A grassroots organization working to promote ecotourism around the R o Dulce area. Arcas (www.arcasguatemala.com) Works to protect the endangered sea turtle population on the...

Orientation

Volc n Agua is south of the city and visible from most points within it Volc n Fuego and Volc n Acatenango are to the southwest (Acatenango is the more northerly of the two). These three volcanoes provide easy reference points. Antigua's focal point is the broad and beautiful Parque Central. Few places in town are more than 15 minutes' walk from here. The city's street-naming system is unusual in that it has no zonas (zones), and compass points are added to the numbered Calles and

Around El Estor

REFUGIO BOCAS DEL POLOCHIC & RESERVA DE BIOSFERA SIERRA DE LAS MINAS The Refugio Bocas del Polochic (Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Reserve) covers the delta of the R o Polochic, which provides most of Lago de Izabal's water. A visit here provides great bird-watching and howler monkey observation. The reserve supports more than 300 species of birds - the migration seasons, September to October and April to May, are reportedly fantastic - and many varieties of butterflies and fish. You may well...

Practicalities

Guatemalans use the metric system for weights and measures, except that they pump gasoline by the gal n (US gallon) and occasionally weigh things such as laundry and coffee in pounds. Videos and DVDs on sale use the NTSC image registration system. Electrical current is 115V to 125V, 60Hz, and plugs are two flat prongs, all the same as in the US and Canada. The most respected of Guatemala's many newspapers are La Prensa Libre (www.prensalibre .com), Siglo Veintiuno (www.sigloxxi.com), La Hora...

Midrange

Some of Antigua's midrange hotels allow you to wallow in the city's colonial charms for a moderate outlay of cash. Hostal el Monta es 7832 3046 Calle del Hermano Pedro 19B dm r US 20 50 Rooms in this modern family home are well-appointed and bright, with spotless bathrooms. The three-bed dorm is a good deal and there are discounts for longer stays. Hotel Posada La Merced 7832 3197 www .merced-landivar.com 7a Av Norte 43 s d USS20 25, with bathroom USS40 45 n Deceptively colonial from the...

Tourist Offices

Asociaci n Alianza Verde Map p276 fax 7926 0718 www.alianzaverde.org This association dedicated to sustainable, responsible, low-impact tourism in the Reserva de Biosphera Maya runs Cincap. Its Green Deal program www.greendeal.org awards a seal of excellence to tourism businesses that meet stringent environmental and social standards. Cincap Map p276 Centro de Informaci n Sobre la Naturaleza, Cultura y Artesan a de Pet n Pet n Nature, Culture amp Handicrafts Information Center 7926 0718...

Local Lore How The Laguna De Guija Was Formed

In the beginning of time, powerful beings lived on Earth. One created the volcanoes, each of which had an owner, except for the Suchitan volcano. Devils began to argue over who should be the owner. Some said they deserved it because they were younger. Others said it was theirs because they were older. All were liars and cheats. The slyest of them all said he would give his crown to whoever won ownership of the volcano. Then the argument really began. One devil said he deserved it because he had...

Around Flores Museo Santa Barbara

On a small island just to the west of Flores, this museum Map p275 admission US 1.50 S 8am-noon amp 2-5pm shows a collection of ceramics found in nearby archaeological sites. It's not a huge collection, but it is well presented - the boat ride over and just hanging out on the island are as much fun as the museum itself. To get there you can try haggling with any lakeside lanchero down by the Hotel Santana where you might rent a boat for US 14 . If you want to scrimp it, you'll have to go to San...

Ro Dulce

At the east end of the Lago de Izabal where it empties into the R o Dulce, this town still gets referred to as Fronteras. It's a hangover from the days when the only way across the river was by ferry, and this was the last piece of civilization before embarking on the long, difficult journey into El Pet n. Times have changed. A huge bridge now spans the water and El Pet n roads are some of the best in the country. The town sees most tourist traffic from yachties - the US coast guard says this...

Emergency

Polic a Municipal de Turismo Municipal Tourism Police 7832 7290 Palacio del Ayuntamiento, 4a Av Norte h 24hr . The helpful tourism police will go with Casa Rustica Hotel Aurora Hotel Cristal Hotel Uxlabil Posada Ruiz 2 C3 Yellow House 127 C3 Bagel Barn 128 H6 Caf Condesa 129 H5 Caf Flor 130 D4 Caf La Escudilla 131 D4 Caf No S 132 F4 Caf Terraza see 114 Cuevita de las Urquizas 133 E3 E4 El Sabor del Tiempo 139 H5 Estudio 35 see 170 Fernando's Kaffe 141 C2 D3 D3 Jard n Bavaria 144 C2 La Cocina de...

Local Voices Eduardo Vasquez Shoemaker

The small village of Pastores, just outside of Antigua, is famed for its leatherwork. People come from all over the country to buy their cowboy boots and rodeo hats here. We spoke to Eduardo Vasquez about the cobbler's life. How long have you been making shoes About 15 years. When you start, you cut the hides to learn how it's done. Later you do the moldings. Then, if you're good, you start sewing. Have the techniques changed over the years Not really. Hardly anybody in Pastores uses machines -...

Other Activities

Most El Remate accommodations can book you on five-hour horseback rides to Laguna Salpeten and a small archaeological site there US 18 per person or two-hour boat trips for bird-watching or nocturnal crocodile spotting each US 8 per person . Casa Mobego and Casa Yaikan do five-hour walking tours to Laguna Salpeten for US 10 per person. Ask around about bicycle, kayak and canoe rental. Casa Mobego rents double kayaks for US 4 5 10 for one two four hours. Various places rent bicycles at US 2 3.25...

Finca Santa Margarita A working coffee farm Finca Santa Margarita

7952 1586 3a Calle 4-12, Zona 2 admission US 2.50 S guided tours 8am-12 30pm amp 1 30-5pm Mon-Fri, 8am- Access Computaci n see 33 Banco Industrial 2 C3 Banco Industrial 3 B3 D3 Lavander a Providencia 5 C3 Mayan Internet 6 B3 D3 C3 Tourist Office 9 C3 Aventuras Tur sticas see 22 D3 A2 Finca Santa Margarita 12 C4 Museo El Pr ncipe Maya 13 F4 Bartolom de las Casas see 33 E4 A2 Templo El Calvario 16 B2 Casa D'Acu a 17 C4 Casa Casa Luna 19 B3 Chipi Chipi Hostel 20 C3 Guest House Cob n 21 C3 Hostal...

Getting There Away

Frequent boats come downriver from Rio Dulce p254 and across the bay from Puerto Barrios p260 . There are also international boats from Honduras and Belize. Exotic Travel p263 operates combined boat and bus shuttles to La Ceiba the cheapest gateway to Honduras' Bay Islands for US 45 per person, with a minimum of six people. Leaving Livingston at 7 30am or earlier will get you to La Ceiba in time for the boat to the islands, making it a one-day trip, which is nearly impossible to do...

Bus Minibus

In Santa Elena, the following buses all stop at the main bus terminal Transportes Mar a Elena, L nea Dorada Mundo Flores has a second office of L nea Dorada Mundo Maya 7926 3649 Playa Sur , where its Santa Elena's terminal is also used by the chicken buses of Transportes Pinita and Transportes Ros o and minibuses or microbuses to El Remate, Melchor de Men-cos, Popt n, El Naranjo and Sayaxch . Buses and minibuses to San Andr s and San Jos go from 5a Calle just west of the market. Buses of San...

Chicle Chewing

Chicle, a pinkish to reddish-brown gum, is actually the coagulated milky sap, or latex, of the sapodilla tree Achras zapota , a tropical evergreen native to the Yucat n Peninsula and Central America. Chicleros chicle workers cut large gashes in the sapodillas' trunks, making a pattern of V-shaped cuts as high up as 9m. The sap runs from the wounds and down the trunk to be collected in a container at the base. After being boiled, it is shaped into blocks for shipping. The cuts can kill the tree,...

Parque Nacional Laguna Lachua

This national park 5704 1508 park admission US 5.50, campsites US 3.50, bunks with mosquito net US 9 is renowned for the perfectly round, pristine turquoise lake 220m deep for which it was named. Until recently, this Guatemalan gem was rarely visited by travelers because it was an active, violent area during the civil war and the road was in pathetic disrepair. Now it fills up quickly on weekends and public holidays, and if you re thinking about coming during these times it s a good idea to...