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
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;
Lago de Atitlan tomorrow.