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Old 07-29-2010, 08:43 AM
 
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I was last backpacking in Guatemala in 2007. We never had any problems although we did get recommendations by locals to avoid traveling the highways at night if possible. Don't worry about Spanish if you're patient you'll be okay.

And I'm with BlueWillowPlate, no matter how much you want to play cool-off-the-beaten-path-guy I can't imagine getting anywhere near Northern Guatemala and not taking the time to visit Tikal. Same as Blue, it was one of the coolest places I've seen.
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Old 07-29-2010, 09:12 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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Originally Posted by tijlover View Post
Bear in mind not everybody in Guatemala speaks Spanish. Some, even to this day, only speak Mayan. Same with Ecuador, some only speak Quecha, no Spanish.
Yes they do. Their first primary language at home might be Quechua or something, or the commercial language in the street might be, but everyone CAN speak Spanish. It would be very rare to find a person in Latin America who cannot speak Spanish reasonably well. Howver, it is true that in come localities, the Spanish of illiterate peasants might not be much better than your own.

Just as in America, where everyone (except very recent immigrants) in the Rio Grande Valley can speak some English, although Spanish is the principal language spoken in the street and the great majority of radio stations are Spanish.

The one exception would be Paraguay, where Guarani is the everyday street language used by everyone including non-indigenous. But in cities and towns, everyone has some capacity to communicate in Spanish,and most are fluently bilingual, although in rural areas, there are many who do not know any Spanish, and have no need for it as Guarani is the official language or Paraguay. Generally in Paraguay, Guarani is the spoken language, but nearly everything written is in Spanish. So literate Paraguayans all know Spanish, but illiterate ones often do not.

Last edited by jtur88; 07-29-2010 at 09:27 AM..
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Old 07-29-2010, 04:29 PM
 
Location: Tucson/Nogales
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Originally Posted by BlueWillowPlate View Post
I don't understand why you skipped Tikal. It's not a city.
It was one of the coolest places I've ever seen.
Anytime I'm in Central America I carefully avoid heat, humidity and insects/coastal areas, and generally stay in the higher altitude areas. After 17 years in the desert, with low humidity, my body just can't deal with high humidity. One other reason I didn't go up there. I did go as far as rainy Coban.

When I look at my Travel Guide for lodgings and there's even a mention of mosquito netting, I avoid it, no matter what the attraction is.

In all my 5 trips to Central America I never went near the coast, except last time, I didn't think it would kill me to at least try Monte Rico on the Guatemalan Pacific coast for one night. One night was too much! I was the first one waiting to catch the bus out of there the next morning at 6am.
Thank God, in Guatemala, you can go from 0 elevation to 5000 feet in a matter of 2-3 hours.
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Old 07-29-2010, 06:16 PM
 
Location: on an island
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Originally Posted by tijlover View Post
Anytime I'm in Central America I carefully avoid heat, humidity and insects/coastal areas, and generally stay in the higher altitude areas. After 17 years in the desert, with low humidity, my body just can't deal with high humidity. One other reason I didn't go up there. .
I understand. We all have different limitations.
I went back to Colorado/New Mexico last spring (had lived in Denver 30 years) and on our 5th day there I got a bloody nose. I think it was less the altitude than the aridity.
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