Day 3 – Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

18 Mar

Early rise at 6:15am. Had a nice buffet breakfast in the hotel including coco pops with milk and pancakes with syrup.

On the bus by 8am and Lou recounted a tale of a client who had taken imodium for 3 weeks prior to the trip and couldn’t “go”. Lou, as the tour leader, ended up donning gloves and manually excavating her bowels for her. She apparently didn’t speak to her again.

Once the bus got going, we stopped within 5 minutes at a place named after a plum. Took some pictures but didn’t find the plum.

We drove on to the Pan American highway, which sounds a lot better than it is. Surrounded by “chicken buses” doing way over a sensible speed, we daundered up the road towards Lake Atitlan stopping only briefly at a restaurant “Katok” to use the toilets. The lake is the deepest in Central America.

Volcano from Lake Atitlan

Volcano from Lake Atitlan


We arrived at Panajachel just before 11am and had our bags transported to the hotel in a pickup truck. 15 minutes later we were on a boat heading across the lake to Santiago (St. James). Three volcanos rise up from this caldera lake and form an impressive sight. Lifejackets are provided but thankfully were not required.

On arriving at Santiago, we discovered that the water had risen 10 metres and covered the newly built landing area and park. We negotiated sunken trees and buildings to reach dry land. There is no run off to the lake, so the water only gets higher.

Lou led us safely through the maze of streets, avoiding the tuk-tuks, to the house of a local parish councillor who was for this year hosting the wooden figure of Maximon, covered in Louis Vitton scarves. This is worshiped as a god over the Easter weekend (as the Catholic one is dead at that point!) And hundreds of people turn up to pay their respects. Of course it all costs money!

After being underwhelmed with Maximon, we headed over to a church and met the lady on the back of the 25 coin, who showed us how to wear her headdress. Inside the church, we say what looked like a statue of Elvis (uh huh, we did). Everything still very lenten purple. The Holy Spirit is not a dove here, but a Quetzal – the national bird.

With Louise, Philip and Ann, I had a chicken sandwich with french fries in Lou’s recommended cafe. Not bad. Was constantly pestered by two girls selling tat.  Told them to come back in half an hour and they unfortunately did. Ended up giving them £2 to stop pestering us.

After lunch I visited a mask shop and bought two. Starting price was 80 and it was negotiated to 70. Gave him 100 and told him to keep the change. I’m useless at haggling.

Wandered slowly back to the boat trying not to buy anything else on the way. Almost got suckered into some pictures, but managed to resist at the last moment.

Lou suggested that we buy some food for breakfast and lunch in the supermarket.  Unfortunately the hole in the ground was where the super market used to be, and the other one was at the far end of the town … the far end! … On a hot day, we all almost collapsed (okay, that was just me). Several never made it that far, but a small group persevered until we got there. Had to put our bags in lockers so we didn’t nick anything. Managed to purchase some breakfast and am relying on the pate and chicken slices to see me through the rest of the day.

Walked back to the hotel down the main street, with Tracey, absorbing all the different shops and things for sale. Stopped for an ice cream – a sombrelino or something like that.

Back at the hotel, I managed a quick shower and started typing this in the garden within easy reach of the wifi connection.

Tomorrow is an early start – bags at 5:30am – and a long drive to Copan,  Honduras, via a market at Chichicastenango.

Some of us met for an evening meal, as there was no organised group meal tonight. Ended up swapping travel stories with Linsey, David and Tim. David never seemed quite happy with whatever he ordered. Went for a drink afterwards with David & Tim. Couldn’t find a place that sold ice cream and Quetzalteca, until one bar decided that they would run and get whatever we ordered. Several black bags later, we got what we asked for.

Back in hot hotel room before 9:30pm – oh dear. Got a left over half bottle of Quetzalteca for breakfast tomorrow. Think it went to my head. Currently 19° C and can’t sleep.


One Response to “Day 3 – Lake Atitlan, Guatemala”

  1. Ian March 20, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    Enjoying Tony’s Travels (or should that be ‘Tony’s Travails’?). Thanks for the magnets mate; the Cool Sky Cocktails are on me on the 27th! Stay safe.

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