Antigua & Lake Atitlan – Guatemala


With the camper patched up we got back on the road and made it across the ferry to Coban without incident.  That night we camped on a coffee finca in the mountains and for the first time in a long time needed a blanket in bed.  The following day we were led by a sweet local woman on a tour of the plantation.  The grounds were beautiful, and although she spoke no English, we managed to learn about the entire process using our Spanglish and her Mayan influenced Spanish; smiles and nods filled in the blanks.  We learned when to cut back the coffee plants and restart the growth.  The seasons and cycles of the beans.  How they use banana trees to provide shade for the coffee and section off family plots with rows of bushes.  She was also very proud of how they work with and around the forest to ensure a better ecosystem.

Sipping on the final product Jenna and I discuss how things always seem better when you know where they come from and the people who produce them.  We talk about wanting a garden and how most children aren’t taught about growing food in school.  We talk about balancing a simple life with travel, friends and family.  We talk, sip, observe and wonder.  During our trip it’s been these little moments and conversations that have slowly shaped our minds and ideas for the future.  Where these changes lead us remains to be seen, but I hope to never lose the curiosity and questions that have sprouted along the way.

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind.  To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again.  To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”  -Thoreau


Best place for Pepian in Guatemala!? Recommended by our coffee guide.


From Coban we headed straight for Antigua, and caught up with Beat & Betty on the way.  Once in town we did a bit of sightseeing and settled into the police station.  Antigua, while awesome, is known to have its share of petty crimes.  It isn’t that the town is unsafe, but rather that there are enough tourists present to attract the type of individual who might want to see what’s inside an overlander’s rig.  Luckily, the tourist police have opened up their secured lot for travelers to park vehicles while enjoying the town.

With plans to take a couple weeks of Spanish lessons we decided it was time to move out of our little house on wheels and into somewhere with a real bathroom and shower.  Rentals for tourists taking Spanish courses are very common in Antigua.  At times, the whole town feels as though it’s built around Spanish lessons and volcano hikes.  We lucked out on what ended up as not only a sweet room, but a whole house of new friends.

Within 48 hours of arriving in Antigua we had toured the town, rented a room, linked up with our good friends Chris & Jenn, perused the market, scheduled two weeks of one-on-one Spanish lessons, and whipped up some hand-made rellenitos with our awesome host Cesar.  Antigua was off to a good start and it never let up.  It’s easy to see why people come for a week and stay for a year.

We transitioned from on-the-go travelers to a routine with ease.  Coffee, walk to the bakery, make lunch, walk to Spanish lessons, take a pausa (break) from studying for a chocobanano & coffee, more schoolin’, walk home, wine on the rooftop, check out the market, and then a potpourri of Spanish homework, checking out the town and hanging with friends and the roomies.  Six weeks flew by and we left with promises and plans to return.

Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan is one of the destinations everyone blogs about during their PanAm trip, and we had pinned the magical lake surrounded by volcanoes as a must-see.  We found ourselves on the precipice of a place that connected the hopes and dreams of a working stiff to his traveling reality.  Somewhere once distant and seemingly unobtainable was again at our fingertips as we rolled our home off the edge of the ridgeline.

As those two worlds collide we’re forced to reconcile the perception of such a place with our real-time experiences.  The blog post noting the beauty of the volcanic hillsides is thrown together with the stress of hairpin turns, steep downhill and squeezing through the streets of tiny towns.  The tranquility of the yoga article is diminished by the starving mangy dogs and mobs of tuk-tuks.  As with so many places, we roll in with a handful of hopes, live in the present reality, and leave with only memories; which at times melt into something as unreal as the handful you began with.

This isn’t to say that Lake Atitlan was a place we didn’t enjoy; it’s simply an example.  Our campsite at Pasaj Cap was exemplary and we should have stayed longer than a week.  The lake views were incredible with clouds that hung on the tip of one volcano only to drag themselves through the peak and get stuck on another.  We even found good bread, cheese and wine, our happiness trio, to celebrate one year on the road!

One Year On The Road…in 60 Seconds. One year ago today we pointed our tiny house on wheels towards a destination. Driving to Ushuaia, Argentina was to be the biggest trip of our lives. What we didn’t know was that our little adventure would only be the background music of something bigger. We had unknowingly hit the reset button on our lives, opening up a world of possibilities. In 365 days we’ve experienced more adventure, open conversation, perspective, culture, rest, new friendship, smiles, knowledge and amazement than we may have experienced our entire lives. Our pictures show bits and pieces of this journey but fail to capture the transition we’ve made as people; and we are eternally grateful for the opportunity we’ve had to wander these roads and ideas together. “The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning, you didn’t even think to ask.” – Jeff Johnson,

A video posted by Josh & Jenna (@travelamateurs) on

We enjoyed our time with friends Joe and Josée and their visiting family.  We took boat rides to a place affectionately nicknamed “gringolandia” due to the surplus of pale people and their respective cuisines…mmm pizza and BBQ.  And we relaxed in the warm afternoons and cool nights.

Like I said, Lake Atitlan was simply an example of both sides of the coin…because it’s as wonderful, serene and unique as reported, but a trip to the bathroom might also land you face to face with a scorpion and massive spiders.


By |2017-09-01T13:02:27-06:00January 15th, 2017|Central America, Guatemala, The Trip|5 Comments


  1. JENN January 15, 2017 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Love the post amd the pics guys! Miss ya

    • Jenna January 15, 2017 at 5:09 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jenn!! We miss you guys! Congrats on getting to Ushuaia!!!! Can’t wait to catch up in person again. 🙂

  2. Lisa Kirkpatrick January 16, 2017 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Hi Jenna and Josh!! Another beautiful and great story! Love your pics and love hearing about your adventures. Stay safe – Love you both LOTS!

    • Jenna January 16, 2017 at 9:50 am - Reply

      Hi Lisa!! Thank you for the nice feedback! 🙂 We’re safe & sound in Colombia and loving it. We plan to celebrate Jenna’s 30th this weekend in Medellin. Hope all is well at home! Love & miss you guys!

  3. Lynne Bordeleau-Bennett January 18, 2017 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    Again thank you so much for sharing your experiences it is amazing to read and very inspiring. We wish you continued traveling blessings and peace

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