This next set of photos is probably my favorite set of travel photos to date. I took these in a tiny town called San Miguel, just across the lake from Flores, Guatemala. My friend and I stayed at Chaltunha Hostel, which is actually an adorable set of cabins on a beautiful hillside property with a to-die-for view of Flores.

I had on my bucket list “eat empanadas from a street vendor” (yes, I actually have a written-out bucket list). It was a random item I put on the list one night while at home, dreaming of traveling the world.

So one evening while sitting at a table with Neil, the owner of Chaltunha, my friend and I mentioned that I had this item on my list. We asked Neil if he knew where we could get good street food. And he did! Neil took us down to the vendor himself and introduced us. We attempted to use our broken Spanish, ordered a ton of food (including these empanadas), and asked if we could take pictures of the cooking process. They were happy to let us.

One of the things I love about these pictures is how raw and real they are. San Miguel is a town of locals — it’s not a tourist destination like Flores. This vendor made food for people in the town and rarely interacted with tourists at all. They were incredibly sweet and were happy to meet us. They even showed us their home, just behind the shop. It’s moments like this while traveling that I simply adore, the moments you get a real glimpse of life in another country. Tourist destinations are beautiful, as there’s a reason they become so popular. But moments with locals, experiencing different cultures, eating local food — those moments are priceless.

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