A Travellerspoint blog

Lake Atitlan, Majestically Mayan

sunny 37 °C
View 15 Countries in 8 Months on JEK's travel map.

When planning our trip out to “the lake” as everyone here calls it, and despite advice that we should stay in the most populated town of Panajachel, we decided to get off the beaten path and chose the town I thought would suit us best, San Pedro la Laguna. That meant a three hour bus ride and a 30 minute boat ride to the opposite side of the lake in surprisingly rough water but by comparison to some of our journeys we could actually enjoy a good part of the day after our arrival. We had pre-booked at a quiet hotel recommended on trip advisor and despite every opportunity and recommendation to take a tuk-tuk we opted to walk, big mistake… Not only was it uphill and hard to find but a long way from the boat dock. Luckily we met a nice local-tourist in the street who walked us right there. San Pedro is not very big and some call it the backpackers’ paradise, the streets are narrow (many won’t fit a car) and you have to jump out of the way for a tuk-tuk, motorbike or horse. Our hotel was certainly nothing to write home about and a little overpriced but quiet and friendly so we settle in not wanting, at this point, to go on a search just to save a couple bucks. I should tell you that our luggage is manageable but not particularly comfortable to lug around. Emily’s pack is quite small and has wheels so we have her carry our small daypack. Jim and I both have 70 liter backpacks plus another pack that holds all of Emily’s school supplies which is surprisingly heavy and I have a travel purse with all our money and passport that I only take off to sleep. So basically every time we get on a bus we load on five pieces of luggage, almost always the heaviest and they usually have to throw them up on the roof while we sheepishly watch and try to pretend that they aren’t ours… Finding your way around San Pedro takes a bit of exploration and we have been told that the only ATM that really works is at the top of the hill by the market so we set off to find it. The market is mostly food and Emily is mortified to see the fly covered meat counter and realize that this is what she may be served at dinner. We may have another vegetarian on our hands soon… The town is a mix of backpackers and locals and we find that there is very little English spoken, for lunch we decide to eat at a street taco place, very good, very cheap but Emily feels unwell that evening and we are unsure if its related. Probably not but I am learning she is extremely sensitive to the power of suggestion. Either way she spent most of the evening resting. Our second day Emily and Jim slept in while I went in search of coffee and a quiet place to write. I am trying to send some postcards but the mail system in Antigua is virtually nonexistent and our next big center will be Leon, Nicaragua so I am hopeful to get them off there. Emily is still not feeling well so we go to the Blue Parrot to try one of their famous burgers and take advantage of the Wi-Fi. Emily caught up on some school work while we visited with the owners, two brothers from Michigan and before you know it the day has dwindled away. Emily and I realize that we should really have tried the horseback riding, so we make arrangements to go the following morning before we leave. Being our last night and everyone in good health and spirits we head over to a lakeside bar called Sublime to have dinner. It’s a pretty cool place with an area to sit by the beach campfire, dancefloor for late evening and trees growing up through the decks and roof. Emily, a typical teen always wanting to be older than her years, has a fascination with bars and music so we take her to the Irish Rover, a mix of locals and tourists that has a Spanish band playing and a couple pool tables in the back. Not particularly Irish, but fun nevertheless lol... Horseback riding is on the agenda for the morning so we drag her to bed earlier than she’d like and once there we settle in to a good night’s sleep. Emily is going to jump in here and tell you about the next couple days.

The next day, we got up pretty early and went back to the Blue parrot and I (aka Emily) had biscuits and gravy which I was so excited about since I haven’t had that in such a long time. Next, me and Krista went horseback riding with our guide through the town and up the mountain to see the beautiful scenery. The guide spoke very little English but Krista thought it was nice because at moments we walked in silence and looked at the view of the lake and felt the cool calm breeze. This was very relaxing and neat to see, although I felt kind of sad for the horses as they were very boney and skinny. The whole tour was about 3 hours long, when we came back we met Dad at the bar across from the Blue Parrot and just relaxed. We started walking back to the dock to meet the water taxi to cross to the other side of the lake to a town called Panjachel where we stayed just a night. The boat ride across the lake was very rough and we got sprayed with water a couple of times as the boat crashed against the big waves. Once we got there we walked to our hotel which was called Utz Jay, we settled in and saw we had TV which made Dad very excited, I don’t know why though. We cleaned up for a night on the town, and looked through the market. We saw some interest, unique, and handmade art, but everything was very pricey. But I did buy a pair of shoes that were $5 in US currency as compared if I bought them in the US or Canada they would be about $30 to $40. Anyways Krista also bought me an ankle bracelet which is very beautiful and I try to wear every day since I got it, even though I will admit I lost it for about two days. Later that evening we tried a pupusas, which is like an appetizer that looks like a pancake but lighter and has stuffing inside… the stuffing normally can include cheese, beans, or meat. Since Dad and Krista love spicy food they got jalapenos in theirs and also put hot sauce on top. After we had a snack we walked around some more and spotted a place that looked nice and they were setting up live music. We walked inside and ordered a pizza and Krista got some bread sticks with cheese, the pizza wasn’t that good but we still made the best of it. When the music started it was extremely loud and gave me a headache but others seemed to enjoy it as they danced and sang along to the Spanish singer. We later left and went back to the room and enjoyed the air conditioning and the TV. The next day went got up early and went to a small café on the street that sold crepes. We sat down and order our coffees and I got a crepe with strawberries and Nutella inside with powdered sugar and whip cream on top, it was extremely rich. Krista got a crepe with scrambled eggs and peppers inside, and dad got a waffle with bananas and caramel syrup on top. We finished our breakfast and got on the bus for our 3-hour journey back to Antigua so we could catch a shuttle the next morning into El Salvador. When we went back to Antigua we got our two rooms above the massage place again which was nice to go back to a place that was familiar. When we arrived we unpacked and at 4pm me and Krista got massages downstairs. It was very interesting since it was my first massage, but yet relaxing. The only thing that I didn’t like was the people massaging us phone’s kept going off and then the person massaging me left the room to make a phone call. Then came back in and talked about the phone call with the person massaging Krista. It was very weird but yet relaxing when they weren’t talking to one another. After we went to a little restaurant and had 3 different types of sliders. We went back to the room and I rested by watching Netflix on the laptop and Krista and my Dad went out for a date night. That was pretty much the end of the day and next we continue on our journey to another magical place.

Posted by JEK 10:55 Archived in Guatemala Tagged "lake_atitlan"

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good job girls.

by Momma Dawn

Sounds exciting,the scenery looks beautiful

by Kim Behrman

Great, descriptive writing. Well done, both of you.. Sounds awesome!

by Brent

What an exciting trip you are all having. I enjoy reading about your adventures and look forward to your next post. Be safe and have fun.

by Susan linder

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