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John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
7 yrs and 6 days - end of the road

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Expenses: Guatemala

Jan 7, 2017
by John

The original plan was to stay in Guatemala for the full 90 day CA-4 visa, then get an extension before continuing on to El Salvador. Our new tire expedition to Belize meant we had a shiny new CA-4 and a great excuse to rent an apartment at Pasaj Cap on Lake Atitlan for as long as we could, crossing into El Salvador after extending our second visa on the 91st day.  Our two visits to Guatemala equate to 163 days (almost 5 1/2 months), 73 from late June through August and 90 from late September until 2 days after Christmas. We spent a total of $10,995.29 or $67.46 per day. Considering we spent 117 days in an apartment on Lake Atitlan (31 days during visit 1 and 86 during visit 2) and 14 days in a hotel while learning Spanish in Antigua, our daily average is pretty good. As always, our figures have been converted to US dollars.


Crossing into Guatemala twice surely skewed our border fees and we decided to hire a fixer to obtain our visa extensions so we could stretch our stint in the apartment for as long as possible. Typical border fees run about $30 for the necessary copies, TIP, fumigation, and bridge toll when entering from Belize. We spent considerably more since our extensions cost $50 each plus another $40 for both our required passport photos which we entered under copies. We also hired a helper when crossing from Guatemala into El Salvador for $10 (Jorge 503 7295 0413 - $10 per side) who got us past a line of 250+ people in a couple of minutes. To us, the $1.29 per day was well worth the conveniences.

During our first stay in Guatemala, T-Mobile terminated us due to abuse of contract so our communication costs dropped substantially. We also finally got around to changing our DeLorme plan to the most affordable option since we haven't been using it much. While we did pay for both services at the higher plans a couple of times before reducing them, we are extremely pleased with the $2.79 per day communication average. We don't expect any cell phone expenses for El Salvador as we bought an extra Tigo recharge in Guatemala which should cover the expected duration of our stay.

Entertainment expenditures was a paltry $1.29 per day, or $210.98 in total, the majority of which was incurred in the beginning of our first visit when we were touring around instead of lazing about in a westernized dwelling. We thoroughly enjoyed the ruins of Yaxha and Tikal, several waterfalls, spelunking in Bombil Pek, and zip-lining on a coffee cooperative. 

Food was our largest expense at $4,402.01 or $27.01 per day, 40% of our total expenditures. We ate out 96 times (20% of our meals), averaging $19.17 per meal not adjusting for other items in the total such as drinks, coffee, and snacks. Our dining out total is slightly elevated due to our 2 week stay in Antigua where we only ate out. While at Lake Atitlan, we mostly cooked in, reducing our waistlines considerably. Our cooked meals averaged about $6.12, not bad considering the quantity of bacon and other meats we consumed while at the lake.

As expected, our living expenses for Guatemala are extremely inflated. We camped a total of 31 days ($7.83 per night), spending the remaining 132 in either a hotel or an apartment at Pasaj Cap ($28.24 per night). Medical is higher than normal due to a couple massages.

We spent more under miscellaneous then we expected, $4.80 per day, but our random pieces of handmade clothing, quilts, scarves, and such were really worth it. Our two weeks of Spanish school during our first visit might have been a bit premature but it is what it is, we are speaking a little better each day.

One advantage of parking for a long period of time is that our transportation costs plummeted, accounting for only 7.4% of our total expenditures or $5.01 per day. We drove 2,109 miles during our two visits, consuming 153 gallons of diesel, averaging 13.8mpg. Our poor mileage is probably due to the mountain terrain, periodic idling, and re-positioning of the van to make room for other overlanders at Pasaj Cap. Almost all of our mass transportation expenses were for accessing the different pueblos around Lake Atitlan via lanchas or tuk tuks.


The pie chart and expenses table are programmatically added to this page. Meaning, if we update our expense information then those will automatically reflect the change possibly creating a disparity between the textual breakout and the actual expenditures. This information has been provided to assist others in planning a long-term trip so use accordingly, by all means contact us to ask any questions or to point out any errors so we can remediate them.

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Say what? (2)
Jan 7, 2017 at 06:30 PM
Patti and I had lunch with Lee at Christmas. She seemed to be her usual self- in great spirits. Its good to hear things are going well on this voyage.
Jan 8, 2017 at 09:00 AM
So glad you were able to get together. We are really enjoying our time exploring Central America. We hope everything continues to go well for you and Patti.
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