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Free Hotel in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala

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A good place. A Mayan place. Guatemala. Rode a public boat across the lake from Panajachl to Santiago Atitlan. Bargined hard on the price, but could only get the boatmen down five quetzals. It was a nice ride though across Lake Atitlan, and worth the 20 quetzals I paid. The fact that the boat was packed tight with big bottomed and colorfully be-skirted Mayan women only seemed to make the ride all the more enjoyable. Sometimes, for travel to be enjoyable, it must also be a little uncomfortable. A big Mayan butt squishing you awkwardly into a smaller than life-sized hovel as you ride in a packed like cargo in a little boat across a great lake is part of the traveling experience.

‘Travail’ is the root word of travel.

When we made it to Santiago, I had a smile on my face. Mira got mad at me because I chose to take pictures of her struggling to get out of the boat, rather than giving her a helping hand up to the dock. But I have funny photos. In Santiago Atitlan Mira and I sought to get some nights of free accommodation for making a website for a hotel on Andy’sHobohideout.com. We gave our wrap to a girl at one hotel, but she seemed a little confused, though potentially interested. She said that the manager would be back at another time, at to return later. We went on to give our wrap to another hotel in the mean time.

The place was named the Hotel San Pablo. It was run by a nice, though slightly diminutive, Mayan couple. They greeted us with big smiles and we went to take a look at their rooms. They were nice. This was a mid-range hotel, and far beyond my usual vagabond standards. My hair stood on end as we offered to make them a website for their hotel in exchange for two free nights. They hesitated the offer, mulled it over, brought up their daughter who spoke better Spanish to help them translate. They seemed to be a little suspicious of what we wanted to do. “What is the guarantee?” they asked. My word was the only ground that I had to stand on. The hotel owners debated it some more. I showed them some print outs of what the site would look like when finished that I had previously kept snug inside of an official looking manila envelope. Mira and I explained I detail the dynamics of the pages that we would make and showed them what it would like. Hesitantly and shyly, the head matron told us that she would like to trade. She then smiled. We smiled.

This was our first go at making a website for a hotel in exchange for free nights of accommodation. I was a little nervous. After dropping our bags in the room, Mira and I set ourselves promptly to work. We would be working on this site until we left the hotel two days later. My friend Andy says that we made the deal too cheap, that we should have gotten at least a week’s stay for making the page that we did. If we had a longer time, we also could have made it a little better.

For two days of a free bed, I put in two full days of work. Not a bad deal, but what good is traveling if you are only sight-seeing into a computer’s monitor? But it all became worth it when we went to leave the hotel and an entire crowd was gathered around the computer – joking, laughing, and enjoying the website that Mira and I had made for them. They appreciated it, and to show their appreciation, they showered us with gifts and smiles as we made for the door.

Go to the HoboHideout.com page that we made for the Hotel San Pablo.

Santiago Atitlan is a good place. Cheap food, excellent breakfasts, good breathing air. Wonderful people. Me gusta mucho.

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Filed under: Accommodation, Guatemala

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3053 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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