Back to Guatemala City
Woke up reasonably early in San Pedro on Lago de Atitlan, and found a nice little breakfast place which was literally under an exposed staircase. The lady who ran it knew no English, so in our very limited Spanish, we order the local breakfast of eggs and of course, the delicious coffee. While at breakfast, we did see several 4 wheel drive trucks stop at a tourist travel place opposite, and ~20+ foreigners came over and got picked up; from the looks of it, it looked like they were going for (high?) adventure tours; hiking up the volcano’s (Volcan San Pedro was right behind us) or hiking through the jungles etc. Must try that on one of our next trips.
Then went off to the pier to catch the lancha back to Panajachel across Lake Atitlan. The weather was a little cool, but sunny, and promised to get warm. The lake was very calm so expected the ride to be smooth. Sat in one of the lanchas for a short while, and then it took off across the lake. Ride was nice and smooth. Then it started getting windy and choppy, and ended up being very choppy indeed. So we fought off the cold spray from the lake and the sore butts on the hard lancha seats (without cushions) the remainder of the very bumpy ride. It was all I could do to stay on my seat, forget taking pictures. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. The Lago de Atitlan is quite unpredictable for weather; I had thought it would be a nice calm ride due to the early morning calm, but it got very windy.
Got into Panajachel, went to the Posada de Los Volcanes and picked up our left luggage and after stopping for a fresh juice and coffee, left Panajachel.
Drove back a slightly different way and came across a nice waterfall (see pic);
Kept driving to Guatemala City. Once in the city, traffic was again quite hectic and busy as expected.
Manage to navigate and find the hotel without getting lost or honked at this time 🙂 . Decided to go into the city and explore it a little. Main attraction appeared to be the Parque Central area. Had a choice of transportation; the local red busses went everywhere and stopped everywhere. The Green busses were more civilized, and went along a few predestined routes from the outer zones into the city center, with nice clean bus stops. It was also safer than the red busses (so we were told). Decided to take the car anyway, so we could stop wherever we wanted. The main road we took was quite busy, but driving was civilized. Got close to Parque Central and parked in an underground parking garage.
Walked to the Parque Central, which turned out to be a huge area that had the Cathedral on one side, the municipal buildings on the other side and a huge book fair going on in the middle. The square of the Park was huge and had lots of room for grass, gazebo’s etc; quite civilized. Plenty of pigeons and kids feeding them here, together with a lot of street vendors selling all kinds of things. Went into the cathedral which was quite impressive, and then went to the market which was behind the cathedral. The market had a fruit+vegetable, meats etc area on the ground floor, an area of many eateries, and upstairs, had stalls selling all kinds of clothing, cutlery etc etc. Picked up and had some fresh fruit (mango acido, jackfruit, custard apples) , and decided to try one of the eateries for local food (place looked very clean); of course no English, so took some time to order and ended up getting some local fish and rice/beans; which was not bad. Dilshad was not thrilled and she did not to eat there. On leaving, a kid offered me a shoe shine for 5 Qtz (less than $1); so I got my shoes shined there; it had to be the best shoe shine I have ever had, as my shoes looked brand new; and have stayed that way; well worth it. Gave the kid a 10 Qtz note, and of course, he did not have any change, so he ended up with a 100% tip 🙂
Walked back into the square and found a barber shop; haircut for me was 25 Qtz ($3); so got that out of the way also. Can’t pass up good deals 🙂 . Kept strolling and ended up finding a pedestrian only street off the square, where there was a lot of activity; multiple street entertainers, lots of pedestrians and shops of all kinds. So spent some time here getting entertained, and shopped at a local super market for hot sauce, coffee, chocolates to take back with us. Went back to the square and after some people-watching, it started getting dark, so decided to head back. Picked up the car and started driving, only to end up in a huge traffic jam. So diverted onto some side street and made our way back to the hotel. Dinner was at the local Pollo Campero chain (good chicken); and then researched where we could go exploring next, near the City. Turned out that all interesting places were at least an hour’s drive, so decided to come back home. Since the flight was an early morning flight, returned the car that night (knowing how long it takes to do the paperwork). The car rental place then took us back to the airport, and from there caught the shuttle to the hotel.
Back in Dallas after a short quick trip. Thanks for patiently reading all this and I hope you found it interesting.Central America, Guatemala, Guatemala Jan 2013