Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala
Woke up and went up the main street (one lane road) from our Posada to a nice open air restaurant for some local breakfast. Then decided to spend 1-2 days around the Lake Atitlan. Found out that way locals get to the other towns and communities on the lake is by lancha’s (small ferry boats carrying 10-15 people). Some of the lake communities can only be accessed by water, so lancha it was. These go regularly around the lake with a fixed rate, so no issues.
So parked the car for a day or so, drank some fresh squeezed orange juice at a street corner stall, packed up a few things and headed for the pier where the lancha would take us. Nice sunny day again, and warm.
Decided to head for San Marcos La Laguna which seemed to have a good write-up on our trusted Lonely Planet. The lancha took off on time after about 12 people had boarded (including several foreigners), and stopped at several small communities along the way, dropping off and picking up passengers.
Lago de Atitlan is a volcanic crater lake, and is surrounded by multiple large volcanic mountains that you can see in the pics. Water spray was a little cool, but refreshing. Some of the stops were at single houses on the lake, away from any other forms of civilization, at passenger requests.
Arrived at San Marcos and got off at the pier. There were a couple of little boys who offered to guide us around, so hired them after making sure it was a day off from school. The boys were actually speaking a Mayan language to each other and some broken English and Spanish; so we got along just fine.
San Marcos is fairly small so walking everywhere was fine. Went to a couple of small hotels which had decent accommodation and rates. There were many foreigners living in San Marcos and familiar to the locals it seemed. Many had small Posada’s and restaurants and Yoga centers. Yoga seemed to be popular for foreigners here.
Walked around the town, took some pics, and decided to move onto the next largest town on the lake; San Pedro La Laguna. So made our way back to the pier, after stopping for fresh coconut milk and a snack of cassava (yucca) chips. The Lancha came along after a short while and we board for San Pedro.
San Pedro La Laguna is the 2nd largest town on the lake, after Panajachel. It is built on a steep mountain side (Volcan San Pedro); and so is hilly. Coming off the pier, we saw a steep climb uphill. Walked uphill a little where there was a tuk-tuk (3 wheelers) taxi stand.
Asked one tuk-tuk driver if he could guide us to the Hotel El Gran Sueno was. He knew it and told us it was not close by. So after negotiating the price with him for 10 Quetzales (just over $1); we got into the tuk-tuk, which immediately went up the steep hill, and then into some gullies which were barely wide enough for the tuk-tuk. After going uphill and downhill and numerous blind corners, we arrived.
Went into the Gran Sueno (more like a Posada vs an hotel) and the lady who ran the place came out. Rooms were available, for 200 Quetzales ($25). Of course I had to negotiate, and so negotiated her down to 150 Quetzales ($20). Settled in; nice clean room with private bathroom and a good view of the lake from the room and an even better view from the rooftop. Went off to get some late lunch, and found out that our hotel was actually not more than 150 feet on a flat road from where we boarded the tuk-tuk earlier.
I always allow to get taken once every trip, and this was it:). Came across an Indian restaurant on the lake, run by Guatemalans. Nice place with a great view of the lake. Ordered some Indian curries and Naan. Food arrived and it was very good, even though it was cooked by a couple of Guatemalan ladies. Nice lunch overlooking the lake.
Walked around the town (cathedral, market (closed) etc., and got some good pics. Seemed like all the locals lived in the town, slightly away from the lakeside, which was all filled with tourists, hotels, bars, restaurants etc. We did see many Israeli Jews living there, with a community center.
Was easy to tell from the yamaka’s. Wonder why these Israeli’s chose to live out in such a remote place? Spent the evening in a hot spring bath, followed by dinner at a lively Irish restaurant which had good food. We gave the local food a rest today.
San Pedro, from our rooftop balcony