Friday Finds | Guatemala, Bags, and Stickking to 2020 Goals
Feliz Ano Nuevo!
In this post it is my pleasure to bring you:
- A recap of a holiday in Guatemala
- Traveling overseas with only 1 small bag – my favorite backpack
- Returning home with a treasure worth sharing
- Unpacking OCD and Stickking to 2020 Resolutions – small tips
- A brief list of the places we stayed this week
I probably overdid it with this post, but I feel compelled to write about my holiday so I can move forward into work and life in 2020. This is how I need to close the vacation. It’s important to take a moment to pause and tell our stories, I think. I believe that storytelling is crucial and one of the four pillars for life meaning – that’s why I don’t care to criticize friends who muse life on social media. Go for the stories, people. I hear you!
My husband and I just returned from one of the most beautiful places on earth – Guatemala. I wasn’t sure what to expect from other people’s stories, but it far exceeded my hopes and blew us away. So I’ll get right to it.
Guatemala. You Should Visit!
First of all most of this blog post is based on a teeny tiny slither of limited vantage. We were only in Guatemala for five days, and that means we could only see, smell, and eat a travel-sized portion of flavors and culture within this beautiful country. We like our jobs and want to keep them, so our vacations are brief and so are the blog posts about them.
We are also fortunate to have loving family members who ensure our children stay happy and healthy during our time away, and I realize that this vacation could have gone very differently without that peace of mind. Thank you, Gramma! All of this to say, “Guatemala, we see you.” And I wish we could have really seen you – because a week cannot possibly do justice to your beautiful lands and peoples.
Things to Do
Many of my friends mentioned that Guatemala hasn’t been on their bucket list. And I understand that it’s not the first location you’d think of for an exotic getaway. Peruse Instagram with #LakeAtitlan #Antigua #Panajachel and other indicative hashtags, however, and you will find a great deal of appealing beauty.
Tikal, Rio Dulce, Lake Atitlan, and Antigua are the hottest destinations. There are some nice hotels at the beaches, too, like El Paredon. With our time constraints, I planned for us to stay south mostly at Lake Atitlan. Here you can:
- Zipline at the Nature Reserve
- Take chocolate and coffee tours
- Shop in the street markets
- Climb and hike volcanoes (do your research for safety)
- Enjoy the water with boats and boards
- Take a Mayan textile tour
- Ride around in a tuk tuk
La Fortuna – Our Favorite
We were lucky (I guess? – not sure because I like this part but husband doesn’t) in that we hopped around quite a bit. There was only one hotel we stayed at more than one night, and that was partly because of availability factors and partly because we needed some stability for remote work – hotel standard for those days. The other nights were a good whirlwind of sights, smells, and conversation with some fantastic fellow travelers.
Our favorite location was La Fortuna at Lake Atitlan. Welcome to paradise!
Even Better in Person
La Fortuna is an award-winning eco-lake resort brimming with perfectly landscaped waterfront delights, wildlife, and high-end attention to detail. It is pure classy sophistication nestled in lush, rustic botanical enchantment.
The resort is only reachable by boat, so visitors should plan on time to land in the country, travel to the Lake, and take the public ferry from Panajachel, the nearest point on the lake. (Private shuttles and boats are available.)
Every aspect of La Fortuna is carefully crafted to welcome guests and whisper reverence to the spirit of nature that greets every traveler who visits this heaven on earth. The owners, Steve and Kat, are from the US / Canada, and Matt and I were so impressed with them in many ways. They hustle, and they are top-notch.
Not only did they quickly and thoughtfully respond to my questions prior to arrival, they personally met us at the lodge bar to converse and treat us like familiar friends. They were so lovely, and every detail of the atmosphere they have created there offers testament to their love for nature and people – not to mention a keen loyalty to sustainable design.
The resort’s staff was so wonderful; they met us as we first set foot on the dock and then gently eased us to our bungalow and gave us space and service – perfectly balanced – throughout our stay.
La Fortuna is for adults only, and there is plenty to see and do from paddle boarding, kayaking, relaxing in the hot tubs, resting among the various nooks and gardens, walking up hiking trails, and visiting the other towns around the Lake by boat. This past year it received a Top Ten in the World award from Trip Advisor for small resorts, and we now know why! I am so thankful we were able to visit La Fortuna.
1 Bag For 1 Week
I only took one bag with me for this week. I have learned to pack just a few outfits, keeping my stashes simple, organized, and carefree. I handwash shirts and bras and usually wear my swimsuit for an entire day. I only took my mobile phones – no laptop. I was so happy to have my favorite bag and feel light – less is more. Check out this bestseller here.
I came home full. I planned to purchase “a beautiful bag I can’t pass up” in Guatemala, and I chose this beautiful bag from Poncho’s Bags from the popular Calle Santander shopping district in Pana. Most travel forums suggest bargaining with the street sellers in Guatemala, and I did. But I paid what he asked for this bag because I decided to support this man and their business. I love the bag. It is my all-time favorite color, it’s leather, it’s handmade from the locals, and it was perfect for bringing home some souvenirs for my kids.
The OCD Unpacker
I didn’t realize until I read this article on unpacking like a pro during lunch today that I naturally “Type A” unpack. This is because I have slight OCD, but also – what is the actual point of vacation if you drool along with a chaotic stream of stress for weeks afterward due to the inability to just stop and put stuff away? I mean really. I’m winking at my procrastinator husband… don’t judge me, though. I appreciate that he does nice things like cook dinner after returning home, so I can feed my Type A cravings. It all pans out (see what I did there).
In all seriousness: if you only pack a few things in one small bag, you are home and done within an hour.
Stickk to Your Goals in 2020
For all of you out there who strive to take this year to new heights, consider setting goals in new ways using Stickk. Stickk allows you to plan out your commitments and get serious about them with some unique twists on resolution accountability. Check it out.
Finally, The Whole List
There are many beautiful hotels, hostels, and homes around Lake Atitlan. Each town around the lake has its own flavor and unique traits, and you really need an entire week to dip your toes into them enough to enjoy. Here are the locations we stayed at during our trip:
- Jenna’s River Bed & Breakfast along Panajachel
- Porta Hotel Del Lago in Panajachel
- La Fortuna near Santa Cruz
- Porta Hotel in Antigua
Honestly every single one of these was beautiful and took such great care of us.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that we now see that we are old and boring, and our best intentions could not provoke us outside of a hotel room in Miami on New Year’s Eve. We had planned to go party downtown, but we stayed inside, ordered chinese for dinner, and watched Netflix.
Seriously I am so grateful for “spontaneous” getaways like this, our jobs, and our families. 2019 was not easy for our family in many ways. That’s why I see such high value in carving out the times to travel and see the world – do whatever you have to do to make those moments happen. We met some incredible people on this trip – there was even a Guatemalan tourism professional we happened to meet on public boat who took us around to some amazing spots for an entire day – true royal treatment. And when we nervously approached the front desk at one of the hotels showing only 1 night to ask for two, we were surprised with an upgrade to a full suite for both nights. And we met some really funny and friendly Uber drivers.
Life is an adventure, and it’s better when you can embrace it spontaneously.
That’s a wrap! I’m refreshed, inspired, and hopeful for a great year. Adios!