This weekend i went to Lake Atitlan. the school organised a shuttle from my house to Panachel, the main town on the lake. A couple of other students from the school were there so it seemed like it was going to work out well! It started out with me and three other girls from my school. Stephanie, Maureen and her friend Annie. I had booked a room at El Casa Del Mundo. ITs a gorgeous hotel right on the lake and its in a really peaceful position overlooking some volcanoes and 2 minutes walk from a tiny village called Jaibalito and the girls decided to join me. however, on the bus to Panachel Annie got really sick (poor sod) and pretty much had to go straight to a hotel when we arrived, she wouldnt never had made it through a boat journey across the lake. So Maureen and Annie checked into a hotel and Stephanie, Me and Brandon, another student, went for a wee walk through the town to the lake.

I really wanted to dive straight into the lake but the Public beach was quite dirty, in fact Panachel was pretty much a dump. The Market was good but theres loads of people hassling you to buy stuff. we went to a restaurant overlooking the lake and while we were having lunch people from the the street kept coming in and trying to sell us all sorts of stuff and they dont take "no gracias" for an answer, theres only so long you can be polite for! I can deal with it but then little kids of about 6 or 7 were coming in and doing the same thing, some even knew a little english and were asking our names and where we were from. it was so sad because it was like they didnt really know what they were saying, its was just chat that they were taught to sell stuff. so anyway, we werent in the best of spirits and things went a little downhill from there.

Origionaly i had planned to get a public boat to Jaibalito to stay at El Casa Del Mundo and then hike along the lakeside to visit the next town San Pedro, it was apparently a 45 minute walk with stunning views and San Pedro was a quaint hippie town. However, after speaking to locals and this one american guy who straight off offered us grass and had no pupils whatsoever, so i dread to think what he was on, it became apparent that my plan wasnt possible becasue it was far too dangerous. When i asked the american if it was safe to walk between Jalibalito and San Pedro he said "no, and not just no, hell no! its far too dangerous, a guy got murdered outside my house last night" also the guys working at the dock told us that the public boat didnt go to Jaibalito and that we'd need a private boat which would be 150quetzales {about a tenner} so stephanie was put right off and decided to stay in Panachel. I didnt want to stick around Panachel for a night and i still really wanted to go the the hotel but didn't feel safe taking a private boat alone so Brandon came with me. We managed to haggle the boat down to 125quetzales and then we were off! our room wasnt in the hotel itself but was in an annex in the village, about 5mins walk along the lakeside. there were a couple of unwanted guests too! MASSIVE wall spiders. the wee boy from the hotel who took us to our room told us "es no peligrosso" {theyre not dangerous} i am so sick of hearing that word! and he chsed them out of the room {they were too fast to catch} and im so glad brandon was there to get the other spiders out the shower eekk!!

the hotel itself was totally amazing and there were some other students we knew staying there aswell. Emily from Michigan and Svenia and Gudman from Edinburgh!! its such small world! they told us that they got the Public boat for 10quetzals!! aarrgghh! i was furious! but i soon got over it when i realised how amazing this place was. Dinner was a little pricey so while they ate Brandon and I walked back to the village and ate from a tiny Tienda on the dockside. We had homemade flapjack things and Watermelon Refrescoes {blended fruit, ice, water and sugar} i swear it was just like drinking a watermelon! HEAVEN! there were loads of little kids playing bouls outside the tienda and we couldnt understand much of what they were saying so we think they were speaking Mayan, the indigenous language, but then the guy who ran the tienda, Santos, came over and chated with us in spanish, I could understand more that i could speak back but Brandon was a little better than me and so could ask more questions. Santos told us that the tienda was more of a community project than a business and that there were only 320 people living in Jailibalito. this was all while the sun was going down over the lake and volcanoes! Stunning!

after "dinner" we headed back to the hotel to meet the others, on our way there was a film being projected onto the outside wall of a house and half the village were standing watching! there were women in the traditional mayan dress cradling babies and loads of drunk men, saturday night must be cinema night! it was a christian film in english so im not sure how much they could have understood! by this time it was pitch black so my maglite came in handy! thank you lorna! we met the others and had fun just chiling on the terrace, lying in hammocks and then we had a go in the hot tub!! it was on a steep terrace and looked straght out over the lake and we could see the lights of panachel and other lakeside towns. it was so nice and peaceful, like a big bath under the stars! if i thought my camera would work i would have taken a million photos! there was another couple from london there who had been to many of the places im heading for so they were giving me loads of advice which was great.

the plan the next day was to get up early and watch the sunrise, the alarm went off in time but we could hear dogs fighting outside and i didnt fancy our chances! the roosters then kept crowing for a good 4 hrs! so later we went for a walk up the hill into the village. it was really poor and there were loads of tiny houses and chickens and kids running about. breakfast at the hotel was cheap and absolutely delicious and then we spent the day lounging on the terraces and and swimming in the lake! Gudman was brave enough to dive off the balcony {about 15 or 20 feet} but i thought i might lose my tankini if i tried it. the water was perfect and you could dive really deep and still see people swimming on the surface. Gudman and Svenia are keen photographers so they were taking cool photos of the gardens and terraces and even tried to snap a few of the humming birds and lizards, but i think they were too fast for them! I think i got about a zillion pictures of the volcanoes! anyway, after we were suitably sunburned we headed back to panachel. I tried to play down how fantastic the hotel was to Stephanie so she wouldnt feel bad but it was difficult!

Then Last night we we all met up again for dinner, me, emily, svenia and gudman, kathy and glen {the london couple} and sara and gil joined us. i think bored gil and sara to death about the hotel, much like i just have now to you! so all in all it was a fan-bloody-tastic weekend!


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