Long time no blog! I am using this time of quarantine as a way to get reacquainted with the wonderful habit of journaling and blogging with a first person voice, keeping you and me entertained in the process. You may feel like you have missed a few episodes, or rather a whole season! I will try to catch up as we go. In the meanwhile, stay safe and wash your hands 🙂
If you have been reading this blog for a bit (we are turning 8 this year!), you are probably wondering what the hell happened with Guatemala and my little guest house.
Well, love happened. A guy started talking to me, that same night he sent me a plane ticket to visit him in San Diego, and now, we’re married. Don’t worry, I will tell that story later, too.
But long story short, we live in San Diego now, in an RV, with Napoleón and Kodiak our Great Danes.
Last year, I didn’t spend a lot of time in Guatemala, so on top of my little guest house, I started renting my primary house. It has 3 finished bedrooms each with a private bath, a fourth bedroom in progress, and a huge 2 acre garden on the beach.
With a little tweaking of the previous guest house listing, I make both houses available to bigger groups, and it has produced a nice income the past few years.
My best months are March or April, depending on when Easter falls, and December for Christmas and NYE. Last year, both months grossed over $7,000.
And April 2020 was going to be the same, or better. Enters the virus. Guatemala went on lockdown mid March, and even though they have very little official cases, I can’t see things magically getting better in two weeks.
The lack of testing, poor population, and general obedience (this is not China!) makes it very difficult for the government to fight the virus.
I had a couple of inquiries from people stranded in the next town over, but both times, they wanted to pay about $20 per day for a house I usually rent for $150.
While I would be happy to lend a hand, allowing one person to stay blocks the whole house, and expenses are easily $15/day between the AC, other electrics, internet that I pay by the gigabyte, the housekeeper, and normal wear and tear.
I also am uncomfortable bringing in a foreign tourist into my remote village, just in case they spread the virus.
So right now, I am sitting tight. I feel bad for my housekeeper who is left without a job, but she didn’t feel bad when she got a better job and dumped me without notice. She only lasted a few weeks, while I hired her cousin, then the cousin disappeared “on a trip” that’s been going on a couple of months now, so the previous one is back.
There has been a lot of ups and downs with the houses, mostly because my sharp eye hasn’t been around in months.
I have made a few investments, replaced the palm roof of the main house ($2,500), the palm roof of the deck ($500), bought a new water pump for each house ($1,000), brought an electrician to rewire both houses (about $500 and the wiring still sucks, that annoyed me a lot), and I am always buying new hammocks, floaties, that for some reason only last one booking and get flat, kitchenware etc.
It is crazy how guests have changed, and so has Airbnb. Airbnb used to side a lot more with me when guests tried to abuse the system, and not it seems like the guest is king, however unreasonable the request.
I have bent over backwards trying to accommodate guests that are never happy. Or some are super happy, tell you how amazing everything is, and still leave a 3* review.
I have been hosting since 2011, and I think the love story with Airbnb is over. However, I still want to get an income out of it, if only to pay taxes and salaries.
The area has grown a lot in the past few years, new Mayan ruins have opened to tourism, and more attractions such as ziplining or horseback riding have flourished as well.
I love it there, and miss it dearly. I miss waking up with the sun, walking the dogs, spending a ton of time swimming in the lake, and being in nature.
True, San Diego is gorgeous, the weather is amazing, and people are very friendly. But it is sometimes a bit too polished for my taste. In Guatemala, we call it, “papá sin sal”, a potato without salt. It can feel like living in Pleasantville and I miss the jungle.
Day 3 went well, we went on a socially distant bicycle ride on the island, and a TON of people were gathering at the beach. So much so, the mayor issued a tighter order prohibiting groups of ANY SIZE.
It’s like everyone wanted to clock one last day out before it gets bad, and as a result, we’re all punished. Oh well. Our campground has a little beach on the bay we can still use.