Van, Plane, Van, Boat, Feet \"We\'rrrrreeeeeeee here!\"

Published: April 14th 2014
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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 but just the same, the way they eat it is what fascinates me. And you smell deep fried chicken everywhere you go. Just not something I expected to see here in Guatemala. Part of me is ok with that, since the roosters wake us up every bloody morning WAY too early - if they only would eat those buggers!!

There are heaps of stray and random cats and dogs, but I must admit they seem to take good care of them, when they can. El Salvador the strays were very skinny and looked malnourished, but in Guatemala they are actually not that bad. None of them are neutered/spayed (hence the problem) but people seem to genuinely care about them, so they try. They are small in size compared to North American but overall ok.

So my camera is toast, I’m only keeping the body to protect the inside of the lens (don’t travel with the cap) and am doing my best with my iPhone; but of course it’s very limited. Trying to be positive, hell I survived Antarctica without a camera (my point and shoot broke when I was down there) but honestly having a hard time with it.

Landed on time, hopped our newest/latest van to head to Lake Atitlan; it was around 3 hours to get there. The elevation starts to go up as you head south west and it was refreshing as the breeze was a bit cooler and for the first time I didn’t feel like I was dripping slowly to death. I say dripping because it’s
Lake AtitlanLake AtitlanLake Atitlan

Not too bad for an iphone!
so humid here you are constantly covered in a thin layer of sweat. Reminds me of when I took agents on a FAM trip to Peru and we were in the Amazon and one of the agents asked me, “Ned do you have water dripping down your legs - is that normal?” I of course wanted to burst out laughing, but held it in and simply said; “that’s completely normal in the Amazon, not much you can do about it!”.

Lake Atitlan sits at 1,560M above sea level, and is beautiful. The entire lake is surrounded by 3 volcanos, lush hills, and multiple smaller towns/cities on it’s shore lines. We stopped for lunch in Panajachel, at the famous Casablanca restaurant to have our Pina Coladas served inside an entire pineapple (see photo). I love, love fresh Pineapple (with a capital P if I’m in the area it is grown), and so I eagerly ate all the decoration from everyone else's Pina Colada’s and got my fill of pineapple - yummy!! So sweet, and so delicious - what we get at home is glorified cardboard compared to locally. I *heart* fresh pineapple! Had a delicious bowl of black bean soup, a great cafe solo, and we wandered the streets to head to the docks. Didn’t have a lot of time, but I did manage to buy a silver ring with a lovely jade piece on it (to match my necklace) as jade is mined in Guatemala - and different shades of green and even purple! I actually bought Princess Jade which is green, but the trip isn’t over yet, we shall see!!!!

What I loved so far, is that the scenery is different, the lake is truly stunning, and the locals are more traditional here - more Mayan than Spanish and they dress in their cultural clothes. So the men are dressed in a more traditional cowboy style, and the women are in their long dresses, and both are incredibly colourful - it is so so cool to see! That’s what I have always imagined Guatemala to be like and I was just loving it! I must admit it was hard to leave the main street of Panajachel; but we would be coming back and the next day was going to be even more exciting for shopping and locals etc.

Boarded our boat, and the lake gets very
Posada SantiagoPosada SantiagoPosada Santiago

Our hotel/oasis for 2 nights
choppy in the afternoons due to the wind. Well our boat ride was, shall we say, powerful? Exciting? Interesting? Painful! We were trying to cruise over the waves at a high speed (motorized canoe again - with a hard top which had me worried I would hit it with my head!) and we would be doing great until we’d miss a wave and SLAM down back onto the lake. ugh. that hurt. But I was giggling the entire time of course, because, well that’s what I do! What’s a little pain with your excitement and adventure! And it was fresh water, so getting a little wet; even our bags with our cameras in it (well Randy’s not mine!) wouldn’t be the worst thing if it did happen.

The ride took about half an hour and then we arrived at our destination. Beautiful hotel, situated right on the shoreline, just outside of Santiago Atitlan. Wandered up a lot, lot of stairs, which isn’t a big deal unless you have your big backpack on your back and you little day pack on your front and your mirror you bought at the co-operative in your hand. All of a sudden I felt very, out of shape! We have a 3 bedroom full cottage with a kitchen and a porch and 2 full bathrooms, so it’s quite lovely. Larry and I and Janice and Randy are sharing and then Benny and Becky from Texas have a smaller cottage on their own, and Justin, well get gets staff quarters! This is not the usual hotel that G uses but due to Semana Santa going on, hotels are overbooked, over priced etc, so we actually got an upgrade. This place is wonderful!

Full of cats too, which makes Ned happy! I’m trying not to pet any of them just incase they have fleas but it’s killing me. They are so small, and so cute, and a lot of them on this property; but again they don’t seem to be starving, which is a relief. Dogs as well, however me saying dog in Spanish is very close to the word ‘but’ (not not butt) and without rolling my ‘rrrrr’s’ I keep saying it wrong. So in english in theory I”m saying hello butt! giggle.

We relaxed, wandered around the property, discovered what we initially thought was a BBQ but it’s a smoker but we now have it in our heads we want to do a BBQ for tomorrow night instead of eating out. What could possibly go wrong:-)

Happy hour over the lake, nice sunset, even through the clouds, a nice dinner and then a relaxing evening. great way to end the day and I’m loping forward to tomorrow - full of culture, and shopping, and tree planting and sight seeing!


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