Lago de Atitlan
Greetings old friends. My apologies in the delay in getting things up. Over the next several weeks I’ll post some stories about the month I just completed in Guatemala. After today, they’ll follow the usual format of every Monday. Thanks for your patience!
Lago de Atitlan
And then, we went to Lago de Atitlan. The plan was put in place on Wednesday, 4 of us would leave after Spanish lessons for the day concluded, around 1 p.m. and the other 4 would follow after that Friday’s field trip got back. The advance party, myself included, would catch a direct camioneta (chicken bus) and secure a hotel in Panajachel. After a stop at the Bakeshop in Xela we headed to the terminal to grab the bus. This was to be my maiden voyage on a camioneta, often touted for being dirty, crowded, unpleasant and a hotbed for bag snatchers. In all honesty, it was all of these things, but it was also a rather pleasant experience in which the 4 gringos in the back of the bus didn’t really get hassled.
As we approached the terminal the ayudante was already down the street ahead of the bus shouting ‘pana pana pana’. Upon spotting us, we confirmed ‘directo’ and boarded the bus and selected 4 great seats in the very back. I don’t recall a whole lot from the trip except for the fact that the direct bus stopped at every opportunity it could to pick up additional passangers. Which I’m really ok with as it gave me another chance to witness the ayudante climbing on the roof (often times while the bus was careening around the mountain curves outside Xela) to get people bags and clambering in through the back door. Or, when we stopped at crossroads we witness the local peddlers of unknown snacks and drinks parade through the bus. Granted, we were pretty smart and kept our bags at our feet, and sure, there was a period of time when one of my friends experienced a gentleman who had ‘dragon breath’ sitting next to her. But hey, even she found him to be endearing after he got off at his destination.
After spending a rather sleepless night at a cheap hotel (note to any future travelers who find this blog, don’t go with the guys that greet you right when you get off the bus and want to get you a room) we embarked on a lancha the next morning for Santa Cruz. After securing our room at the gringo hostel we embarked on a 6km trek to San Marcos. As we watered up and headed out we found ourselves being followed by a pastora aleman. A giant dog which we thought was for sure going to turn back at the top of the hill and the turn off for the caro hotel, Casa del Mundo. Or for sure at the first town, Jaibalito, where a gringo tried to get us to hire him to guide us by sharing he’d been robbed last week on this very hike. Or at the second town, Tzununa, where instead, all he did was jump in the lake to finally cool off. And then, as we arrived in San Marcos we realized someone’s German Shepard had followed us for 6km and we kinda had to figure out how to get him back.
Balto was thankfully wearing a collar, informing us of both his name (which I didn’t realize and couldn’t figure out why this dog was responding to the random name Balto we had made up for him) in addition to a phone number. We handed the cell phone to the guy who spoke the best Spanish and watched as he stumbled through trying to explain that a dog had followed us. And then broke out in laughter when both parties switched to English. Turns out Balto does this a lot, and if we could just throw him on the launcha with us when we returned it’d be appreciated. And so, as we wrapped up lunch and hoped in the next boat back to Santa Cruz we realized that this rather tired German Shepard was taking up room for two people but nobody seemed to care. Balto it would appear was welcome everywhere on the lake, literally.
Places We Stayed/Did
- Some no name hotel down the street next to ‘83’ in my lonely planet guidebook. Cheap (Q35 w/o bathroom, 70 with), arguably clean, loud as hell when someone in the homes around it starts to bang pans randomly at 5am in the morning. Spend 10 extra quetzals on better accommodations.
- Dinner at Atlantis: not sure why I wound up paying the 1L price for a 12oz bottle of Gallo. Portions were a little on the small size and the banana smoothie was watered down with ice. It’s a tourist trap. Ditch your stuff at your hotel and wander up Calle Principal and find a place where the locals are eating. Check out around the church.
- La Iguana Perdido in Santa Cruz: Run by gringos who man the front of the house while locals cook and clean (really my only gripe) this place offers a variety of accommodations (sorry to the one guy who had to share the bunk room with the 7 of us). This place offers a nightly barbeque (Q50/60 veggie, meat) dinner that is actually quite a bit of food and is pretty darn good. I didn’t shower here, as the lake looked like a better option, especially after a long hike.
- Kayaking in Santa Cruz: Walk along the lake front to find the kayak rental place run by a couple of gringos. Q40 for a hour isn’t bad and paddling out into the middle of the lake, away from the boatlanes, for a 360 view isn’t a bad way to kick off your last morning around the lake.
- The random place advertising pizza as we hiked in to San Marcos: The food was seriously lacking in quantity, but at least the place appears to be owned by locals and the banana and pineapple smoothies are passable. Folks in our group only got sandwiches, which arguably isn’t this places specialty.
Posted on February 13, 2013, in Guatemala, International Travel and tagged Chicken bus, Guatemala, la iguana perdido, Lago de Atitlán, Panajachel, San Marco, Santa Cruz. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.