Blogs from Lago de Atitlán, Western Highlands, Guatemala, Central America Caribbean

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Up at 05:40 again, coffee, breakfast and off to the airport to fly to Guatemala City, then continue by van to Lake Atitlan. Airport was entertaining; they have a single lady physically checking bags before you even enter the airport, and she opens it up, feels around in 2 or 3 places and then hands it back to you. Funny as really, it’s so not useful for catching anything, but hey, easier then dealing with American airports! Then we checked in, wandered through security (with water and a fresh delicious coffee!) and waited for our flight. Random Thought of the day: Guatemalans do love their deep fried chicken! Every where you go there are shops, stands, street vendors (literally) in tiny villages selling deep fried breaded chicken. Sure there are not a shortage of chickens here ... read more
Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan
SLR Image


Weaving with ants. This week I have spent the afternoons with Maria and her grandson, who I have been teaching to count in English. He is stuck on 8. Likes to go from 7 to 9 . Makes sense in a Guatemalan kind of way. Maria has been teaching me traditional backstrap weaving . We sit on low stools (enter the ants) , the weaving suspended hammock style, one end on a hook banged into the roof and the other connected round my middle (hence the backstrap). Several hours spent setting it all up and then the weaving which took much patience from Maria till I got the hang of it. I am producing something that wouldn’t look out of place on a deckchair but am very proud of it. Then its a beer to recover ... read more
Weaving with maria and ants
Sunset on Lake Atitlan
Drama


8am in overloaded tuk tuk, heading up the mountainside at the beautiful Lake Atitlan wee village of San Pedro . I’m in the middle of Guatemala with German friend Regine, on board with her Mayan teacher Don Pedro, his daughter Marina and 2 grandchildren and a bag with candles, fire kindle, resin balls, liquor, cigars, all the materials for sacred fire ceremony on the mountain. 3 hours later hurtling back down in a luge like run and just as dangerous! very hot and smelly but all hopes surpassed, ceremony complete and enjoy the photos to just get a wee sense of this very special contact with the holy places of nature Mayan style. I met my friend who just happened to be in the beautiful colonial city of Antigua and we decided to travel to lake ... read more
Fire ceremony
Antigua 2013 011
Antigua 2013 007


I walked this three-day, 48 km hike through Quetzaltrekkers (quetzaltrekkers.com), so this is mainly a review of their organized trek. Typically I like to walk alone, but the trail would be impossible to follow without a guide, and apparently some areas are too dangerous to attempt alone. The first two days are pretty strenous, with lots of shifts in altitude, pretty technical walking actually, with pretty nice views of the forest. At one point one the first day there was a marked difference in the scenery when the group reached the highest altitude of the trip. We emerged from the forest to see beautiful highland farms. Other than the views of the lake, this was a highlight for me. You can read other details on their website. The guides facilitate good camaraderie in the group and ... read more
Canyon
Lago Atitlan
Soccer pitch


ARRIVAL IN SAN JUAN I walked to San Juan from Indian Nose, the admittedly majestic shape of a facial profile on the Northwestern end of the lake. This was on the tail-end of my backpacking trip with Quetzaltrekkers. Most people arrive in Panajachel or San Pedro, however. The town seemed traditional and authentic, and could be a refuge from its far more touristy neighbor, San Pedro. It should cost about 5 quetzales per person to take a tuk tuk or pickup truck to San Pedro, the next town. After hearing some horror stories of machete attacks, etc. on the paths between the towns, I hopped in the back of a pickup truck with a few others from the trek for a ten minute standing ride to San Pedro. Every gringo local I asked said it was ... read more
Other Side
Coffee Factory Day Trip
View from Tuk-Tuk

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After a week in Xela, I decided that I needed to do something a little different for the weekend before starting Spanish classes. And where better to begin my Guatemalan travels than Lago de Atitlan, which everybody here has been raving about since I arrived? I got up early and caught the microbus to Minerva terminal, where various helpful drivers directed me to the bus to Panajachel. It was a forty minute wait on the bus, during which time vendors scrambled on and off, pushing up and down selling ice creams, sweets, tortillas, newspapers, drinks and essentially anything else portable. The journey took a few hours, then from Panajachel I caught a tuk-tuk to La Reserva Natural Atitlan. This is a privately owned park set in secondary forest over a coffee plantation. Trails across the hillside ... read more


Blog 8 Adios, Atitlán We are approaching the end of our idyll here on the world's most beautiful lake. We have a thick vine of orchid flowers on our terrace, and every evening tiny hummingbirds come to feast on the nectar just as night is falling. All day long we hear exotic bird calls, and sometimes we spot the birds they belong to. And there is always the deep blue Lake Atitlán in the background. Today we met the owner of Hotel Bambú; he was dressed in work clothing and was out with the gardeners who keep the grounds here so immaculate. This explains a lot. He is a govenment official of some kind, but his heart is in landscape gardening. It will be so easy for it all to go to hell when he is ... read more
2.My jeweled frog
3.My hat
4.Maya women, Santiago Atitlán


On Sunday March 3 we hired Álvaro, son of the owner of Hotel Bambú, and went off with two other gringos (Robert and Carol, from Washington state) to explore the village of Santiago Atitlán. Álvaro speaks excellent English but has never been to the US. He is well educated, and will probably inherit Hotel Bambú some day and ruin it by good management. Santiago Atitlán is about a mile down a back road from the hotel, a very Maya place. The market there has good hand woven textiles, which Robert and Carol were looking for, but not us. We have a beautiful glass beaded frog and a coffee mug we liked, and a red embroidered table cloth, but nothing else. Our luggage is too heavy already. This village is the home of a hybrid Christian and ... read more
2.Maximón
3. Ceiling decorations
4.Gringo Viejo, about to begin


We left our wonderful $55 per night hotel in Antigua (Posada La Merced), and came by van with several other turistas to the town of Panajachel on Lake Atitlan. It was a pretty nice drive through little Guatemalan towns that almost crowded onto the road, interspersed with long stretches of the verdant Guatemalan countryside. We rose fairly steadily at first into the Western Highlands , a winding highway, up and down, for about two and a half hours until we caught our first glimpse of Atitlan. It lies in the caldera of an ancient supervolcano , fed by several small rivers, but having no outlet to the sea. Someday it will be a salty lake, but not yet; it is still young, only about a million and a half years old. In the years after the ... read more
2.Hotel Bambu from the water
3.From our balcony
4.Hotel garden 1


After 4 nights in Player El Tunco we headed up to Guatemala. The beach was beautiful and we had a great time relaxing and catching up with other people we met in San Juan Dur Sel. Scott got a haircut, we swam in the ocean each day enjoying the sun and ate great food each night! Guatemala has a population of 13.1 million, famous for maya sights and the budget was around $20 USD a day. After a 7 hour shuttle ride we arrived in Antigua which is an hour from the Capìtal of Guatemala city. Antigua is one of the main tourist cities in Guatemala and is a town nestled between three volcanoes, the streets are all cobbled stoned paved and a city rich in culture and history. Antigua is known for its craft markets, ... read more
ONe small little Lady
Antigua
City Centre in Antigua




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