Why Did Two Tourists Visit A School In Guatemala and How Did It Turn Into A Highlight of Their Trip?

School Luis Mena shares a wall with Casa Santo Domingo, Antigua’s top-rated tourist attraction, shares a wall with school Luis Mena but the beautiful monastery-turned-tourist-hotel is a world apart from the everyday life of this school. We loved monastery Santo Domingo, but school Luis Mena turned into the highlight of our trip.

We were just leaving monastery Santo Domingo when we heard the commotion of school dismissal so we quickened our pace, turned the corner and saw the children leaving school, running and jumping and playing around the way children do, many with family waiting to take them home.

97C10CDD-6220-4ABB-8977-D08663A2FD06
School isn’t for all the children, like thrse children sitting on the curb.
FAFE3952-F893-4AD9-954C-3B70E8410DA8
I asked this girl why she didn’t go to school but she said she had to work to help her family survive.
2A7B415D-E919-45E3-BF75-B788AAE4CEBD
Staff members leave already mounted on their scooters

We asked a staff member if we could enter to speak to the school administrator and she led us to teacher Luisa Fernanda. We explained to Luisa Fernanda that we would love to see the school so she asked the school administrator and got permission to give us a tour the following morning at 9 am!

We spent the rest of the afternoon buying school supplies, asking stationery supply stores what teachers needed most.


Luisa Fernanda met us at the front gate promptly at 9 am and lead us directly to her classroom. The students were in the English class so we had time to talk and learn all about the challenges she faced as a teacher.

Luisa Fernanda’s class of 40 6th graders was overcrowded and, worse, the government couldn’t provide enough books for all of the children in the class. Homework was very difficult to assign since the children didn’t have books to bring home.

1B3AA04F-EC9C-4608-8FC7-93C5FC120E28
Teacher Luisa Fernanda in her classroom

The school day was from 9 am to 2 pm, at which time another school used the space for different students. Luisa Fernanda told us that she locked up the supplies, many that she bought with her own money, but sometimes she would find the lock broken and the supplies missing in the morning.

C7A488DC-BB4E-43E0-92D9-C37A708DD5BD
Some mornings, Luisa finds the lock on the big closet broken

C8734009-2ABD-46E5-81DE-451252FA2D34

It was now time to pick up the children from their English class and bring them to the computer room. The children were so full of energy and were very excited to meet us. We walked together to the computer room.


E40F5D95-CFE9-4F8E-8A62-ECEC36C8FC98
The computer room was pretty modern, thanks to donations from Santo Domingo Monastery Hotel.

200E0B7A-F41E-4207-BD33-B953D76CCF0B



Now we toured the school and had the chance to meet the bright-faced children from all the grades.

1F2E40E5-1A36-4E89-A3F1-BC827CFFC517
The student cafeteria
ED71DF03-9C36-432C-96BC-94050DAD7E88
The school auditorium
B377E7DB-50A6-475A-961C-A1506E4136BF
Gym class

376D0947-C78B-4E0C-A97F-84E83F93C2A9

3C3872BF-3E1A-4AEA-8025-9083BDFA7492
Staff parking

Do yYou Want To Read More Posts About Guatemala?

Mayan Culture and Everyday Life in Guatemala

Historic Casa Santo Domingo Is The No. 1 Thing To Do In Antigua Guatemala


Road Trip In Chile: Visiting The Three Homes of Pablo Neruda

Chilean Nobel poet Pablo Neruda was a celebrity in his time, known for his poetry, his time as a Chilean diplomat, his communist beliefs and his lavish eccentricities. His communist party affiliation forced him to cross the Andes mountains into Argentina on horseback to escape arrest in March 1949.

His eccentricities are on full display in his three beautiful homes in Chile. These homes are decorated with souvenirs he collected from around the world. We were lucky to visit all three houses. The price of admission to each house includes an audio headset to guide you through. The audio tours are well done with actors playing the parts of different characters.

Continue reading “Road Trip In Chile: Visiting The Three Homes of Pablo Neruda”