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How to Be a San Pedro Local at Lake Atitlan


The fast track to being accepted as a San Pedro local is learning to talk like a local. This will be easy, for there are only three conversations in San Pedro la Laguna, Lake Atitlan: Judging Other People, Where are All the Tourists?, and Where's My Saldo?.

Judging Other People

Not only is judging other people the main thing locals talk about in San Pedro, it is also the most popular pastime in town. And you don’t even have to know people to judge them and talk about them behind their backs.

Just be sure your statements are politically correct. Otherwise, they might be misinterpreted, in which case you will probably be called a racist by one of the town’s real racists, who use political correctness to camouflage their own bigotry and prejudice by calling other people racist.

Where Are All the Tourists?

The best answer to this question is, “On the other side of town.” If someone has already said this, you can add, “I was in San Marcos yesterday and the town was packed.” This conversation is even more entertaining in the presence of one or more local business owners.

Where’s My Saldo?

Theories on how the local phone companies rip off people with cell phones are another hot topic. Reciting your latest personal horror story will be greatly appreciated, as it will assure everyone that they are not the only people whose saldo (the amount of time on a cell phone) vanishes at a far faster rate than they are making phone calls.

(Note that while many people discuss sports incessantly in local bars, talking about sports does not qualify as a conversation. It’s just an exchange of scores and statistics.)

What Not to Say

The main thing to avoid in any San Pedro conversation is saying anything original; people will resent you for it, and you will never be accepted as one of them. Just repeat things you’ve heard other locals say. It is also acceptable to repeat things that locals have posted on Facebook, because no one ever says anything original on Facebook, either.

Universal Advice

If you ever decide to leave the lovely town of San Pedro, you can use most of these tips in every tourist in the world.