Guatemala is one of my favorite places. I have now been twice and each time was an incredible adventure with some equally incredible ladies. My first trip was in 2013 (seriously though, where does the time go??) with Courtney and Katie. The three of us fell in love with the country, the people and even though I managed to get amoebas in my belly I knew I had to return!
When the planning for this trip came up Megan, Rachel and Ali all said they wanted to come visit me and I knew they would make it happen! Megan and Rachel were able to meet me in Guatemala and I honestly couldn’t have been happier to see them! Ali didn’t make this trip because she had recently graced our group with the newest Scotia girl, the lovely Lily! We missed Ali but we’re all truly smitten with Lily and very excited to shop for her!
Megan is my sister, my best friend, my confidant and my one of my very favorite travel buddies. Rachel has been in my life since I was in kindergarten as one of my Megan’s best friends. Somewhere around high school I edged my way into their group and by the time I was graduating from college I could count Rachel as one of my closest friends and essential part of some of my very best times. I was feeling a little rough when the girls arrived and they IMMEDIATELY picked up my spirits. I met them in Antigua at our hostel, the hostel I changed at the last-minute and didn’t fully communicate to the girls. Oops! Thankfully they found me and our shrieking-hugging-kissing-bouncing reunion at the front desk got some attention from our fellow travelers. What can I say? Once the Scotia girls get together things get really loud and lovie!
I had heard about a place in town where you could get custom leather boots for about $100 and they are ready in 3 days. Of all the people in my life who might be interested in a pair of Guatemalan custom leather boots, Rachel was #1 on my list. As predicted she was very excited and so was Megan. Off to the boot shop! First step – choose the style – cowboy, slouchy, knee high, doc marten style.. there were several options. Next step – choose your leather. There were maybe 10 or more colors of leather including different textures. After that come the really good part – choose the fabric for the shaft of the boot. Guatemalan ladies wear huipils – traditional tunic style, embroidered shirts. This boot shop had old huipils that they used for the shaft of these amazing boots.
At first I wasn’t going to buy a pair of boots. While backpacking $100 felt like $1000. You could live for a long time off of $100, especially in Guatemala! Could I really justify spending one hundred whole dollars on a pair of boots? Of course not. Except… Rachel and Megan were involved. They are getting boots. Come on Sar, don’t you think you’ll want a pair? When are you going to get boots like this again? Do you know how much these boots would cost at home? Meg offered to lug them home for me and that was it… my FOMO won out and I decided I simply had to have a pair of botas (boots in Spanish). Next I had to decided what kind of leather I wanted? Well.. I mean.. if I’m going to get custom botas I might as well get purple leather, right? Again, this is absolutely NOT something I would have done on my own but with Megan and Rachel at my side I have a whole new level of confidence and adventure. Purple leather botas for the win!
Picking our huipils was also hilarious. First they brought out a garbage bag full of huipils. We just sat in the center of the floor, three grown women sitting cross leg and sorting through various beautiful huipils. We felt kinda bad but then I asked the boot maker how many boot orders he gets in a day? He said maybe one pair a week or even every two weeks. Three boots sales in one day was the jackpot for him!! After that we just took our time and he just smiled a lot at us from the corner. Here is the thing, we like options. Um, sir, do you have more huipils? We search through 6 full garbage bags of huipils. When he brought us the sixth bag he finally said – no more, you must choose! Megan ended up with gorgeous brown, knee-high boots with a beautiful purple pattern. Rachel got black leather cowboy boots with an amazing green pattern. I end up with my purple leather cowboys with a bright pattern of giant birds. Purple leather bird boots, not gonna find those at home!
The bird boots were just the start of shopping adventure. There is so much beautiful, incredibly inexpensive treasures to be found in Antigua. We shopped till we dropped. Markets, stores, street vendors – if you were selling it, we were checking it out. There was lots of hard bargains and big sales while we were in Guatemala!
After staying in Antigua for a night we headed up to the Earth Lodge for three days. I love this place. I first went with Katie and Courtney and absolutely fell in love. I could go spend an entire vacation here. Not the most authentic Guatemalan experience but just an incredible spot. High up a mountain the Earth Lodge is full of little cabins and tree houses. We stayed at Casa Buena Vista – the Good View where we had a private bathroom and our own hammock area. Heaven. The cabin was only $45 a night – pricey by Guate standards, a steal by US standards. It’s honestly hard for me to decided which is better.. the food or the views. If you consider happy hour as part of the views that probably does it. They have amazing cocktails and we took FULL advantage! That said, the Adirondack chairs and hammocks looking out over the valley and providing views of three different volcanoes was memorizing.
On our second day is rained and when I say rained I mean POURED down rain. We decided to sleep in and enjoy the sound of rain of a tin roof. I went to our unattached bathroom to shower and managed to get the camp shower to turn on but I couldn’t get it to turn off. At this point I am thinking of myself as this highly competent, independent woman so what do I do? Wrap up in my tiny towel and scream for Megan at the top of my lungs until she finally hears me and comes to save me. It took her about another 10 minutes but she finally got the water to turn off. Thanks, Meg. Little sister benefits.
That day we ate some delicious breakfast and then decided it was time to start sampling cocktails. They were so good and we had so many. We played games, painted our nails and just caught up. The rain was probably the best thing to happen to us – we couldn’t do anything that day but just hang out. As the day went on and our cocktail count grew we got a little louder and a little sillier. Most people thought we were fun and wanted to join in on the merriment, a few kept their distance – what’s that? We’re overwhelming? I don’t understand. But honestly, the fellow earth lodgers were great and especially the staff. We all want to go back!
Our time at the Earth Lodge flew by and it was already time to move on the next, Semuc Champey. This was the spot on our trip that was new to me so I was super pumped! Guatemala had so much going on that its going to be a 3 part blog post. Part two coming soon!