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Published: April 8th 2006
Arrived yesterday in Panajachel by shuttle; it took about 2.5 hours travelling through the western mountain ranges. Weather is a lot cooler here. Dodgy driver told us our accommodation was around the corner, but it turned out to be a little further than expected. A bit miffed since he was supposed to drop us at the door. To add insult to injury the hotel (Hotel Utz Jay) didn´t have our booking even though I had a confirmed email as proof. They managed to book us into alternative accommodation (Monte Rosa), however the owner wanted immediate payment. We enquired about a shuttle to Guatemala City for the next afternoon. He said the charge would be $20 each & he wanted immediate payment for that too. Sounded a bit strange but thought he was trying to be helpful so didn´t quibble about it. Then went for a walk to the lakeside, got some lunch, and cruised the markets. Afterwards we decided to check some prices for lake boat tours at a travel agent. To our dismay the agent quoted us $25 each for both the shuttle ($17) & boat ($8) tour. We had been ripped off. Went back to speak to the hotel
owner and managed to convey our disappointment. Said his best price (after calculating his profit margin in front of us) was $28, but we bargained him down to $26. SO DODGY!!! As a tourist you expect to be ripped off, but this was pretty blatant so it´s taught us a lesson. Trust tomorrow´s a better day. The local Mayans are pretty hard core in Pana, even selling their wares & begging while you´re eating in the cafes.
This morning did a boat tour of the lake to 3 villages - San Pedro la Laguna, Santiago de Atitlan & San Antonio Palopo. It was very touristy and full of hippies, but a nice way to spend the day. At Santiago we went to Maximon´s Shrine who is the patron saint of drinking & smoking. The statue has his own bed, and is surrounded by offerings of sugar cane moonshine, cigarettes (they even have a lit one in his mouth), money and Coca-Cola. Funky saint. Signing off to catch our shuttle to Guatemala City.
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