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Solola and Panajachel, Guatemala

By Ali Karim
This post is part of a series called Guatemala Jan 2013
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Solola and Panajachel, Guatemala

Panajachel is on Lake Atitlan (which is a volcanic crater lake), surrounded by multiple volcanos. We passed various towns and cities from Atitlan to Panajachel with interesting names (Jocotenango, Pastores, Chimaltenango, El Sitan, Xacaxa and Solola). Roads were all tramac’d and in decent shape. People generally drive properly in Guatemala so no issues driving.

In Solola, we ran into a crowded place off the main street so of course, we had to go and investigate 🙂 . Turned out that it was Market day; when once a week, the local Mayan Indians come down from all surrounding areas to sell their wares. The majority (approximately 90%) of the area’s inhabitants are Cakchiquel Indians who proudly retain their heritage, wearing traditional outfits (esp the women); see pics. Now we understood the rather non-Spanish names of towns we had driven through; they were actually mostly Mayan names. Apparently, there are a ton of Mayan languages/dialects spoken in Guatemala
(Ref: http://www.ethnologue.com/show_map.asp?name=GT&seq=10)

Lago de Atitlan

Solola Market

Solola Market; everything from shoes & clothes to fruits and vegetables

Crowded Market

 Great fresh vegetables

Old school, but still works fine

More different veggies

Bored; waiting on customers

These guys were having too much fun at the market

Fresh catch from the Lake

Traditional clothing & lifestyle

Nino

After this short stop, we drove onto Panajachel. By this time, it was getting a bit dark; and we started hunting for a Posada to stay in. There are no large hotels here being a small place; and one Posada we tried was full (only 8 room types). Found one recommended in Lonely Planet where they had rooms. The lady there wanted 350 Quetzales for the night including breakfast and parking (1US$ = 8 Qtz; so about $40+).

Since it was dark, I thought they would negotiate to fill up their empty rooms. So negotiated the rate down to 250Qtz ($30 approx) incl parking, but no breakfast. Not bad, as the rooms were basic but clean and nicely decorated; ensuite, Wifi , common area, TV etc etc.

For dinner, went to a restaurant the front desk recommended, and this turned out to be a great place. It was run by a Guatemalan who used to live in the US and spoke good English (and French, German). Great seafood and local dishes with Gallo cerveza. To boot, he and his daughters entertained us with Guatemalan marimba music. His place is called Jose Pinguino’s;

Quick Info
The quetzal is the currency of Guatemala. It is named after the national bird of Guatemala, the Resplendent Quetzal. In ancient Mayan culture, the quetzal bird’s tail feathers were used as currency).

See pics.

Father and daughters at Jose Pinguino’sJose Pinguino’s

Recommended
Make sure to visit Jose Pinguino’s if you visit Panajachel.

Lago de Atitlan tomorrow.

This entry was posted in Central America, Guatemala, Guatemala Jan 2013

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