Published: March 26th 2012March 26th 2012
The last few days in Guatemala were spent in the Solola Department, either in Panajachel or in San Marcos. The western part of Guate was just as great as the first half that we saw when we went over to Flores Island and Tikal.
Antigua was full of colonial ruins, but Panajachel and Lake Atitlan provided all the natural beauty one could ever hope to find, it really was quite beautiful and unexpected. Three volcanos circle the Lake and the legend of two star crossed lovers, doomed of course, is apparently the reason behind the whitecaps that come in on the lake in the afternoons - that is called the Chocomil. The boat taxi system is relatively easy to use, though my dismount from the boat is atrocious. I gave a few locals a good laugh though so my lameness wasn't totally wasted.
We stayed with friends of my friend and saw the homes and lives of local Guatemalans. I can still feel the breath of the vendors as they followed me for a block - trying to sell me a scarf or something else. Similar to other developing countries you will literally find hundreds of vendors within a
few city blocks selling the exact same products, for the exact same prices. You want to buy from them, you're not a complete douche - well maybe I am - but anyways - you can't buy from everyone even though the pressure is intense, always.
Mangos are brought in by the truckload, and are soooo good when prepared by someone else! Breakfast consists of eggs, honey seared plantains, banana, melons, papaya and mangos as well as some of the best beans I have ever had in my entire life. The food isn't too foreign and is actually fairly healthy. Burger King and every other large chain can be found in the City and yes, Walmart is firmely rooted in the Guatemalan commerce scene. The government has a system where locals can collect receipts from legitimate businesses for purchases made throughout the year. If they have enough receipts, they then don't have to pay extra taxes. Quite a brilliant way to counteract the huge off the record businesses everywhere. If only they were simultaneously creating jobs for those people who are reliant on off the books retail businesses, people need to eat and provide for their families.
completely recommend Guatemala to anyone considering going to Central America. Travel was easy, cheap and safe. The landscape was beautiful and public transport makes it every easy to travel from one end of the country to the other.
There are more photos below