Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Published: December 28th 2008
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Inside bus from Antigua to nearish Lake AtitlanInside bus from Antigua to nearish Lake AtitlanInside bus from Antigua to nearish Lake Atitlan

All buses are old yellow US school buses, but now pimped out with bright colours and Christian slogans.
Lake Atitlan is renowned as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, and Aldous Huxley famously wrote of it: "Lake Como, it seems to me, touches on the limit of permissibly picturesque, but Atitlán is Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing." It is surrounded by volcanoes on all sides and has a scattering of Mayan villages on its borders. During the Guatemalan civil war, the lake was the scene of many terrible human rights abuses, as the government pursued a scorched earth policy. Indigenous people were assumed to be universally supporters of the guerrillas who were fighting against the government, and were targeted for brutal reprisals.

First trivia that I picked up from a threesome of older American hippies waiting for the small fibreglass boat to take us to San Pedro was that a few days earlier one of these had split in two in rough seas and 6 people had died. Turned out that the owner had cut the boat in two and added a middle section so he could fit more people in and didn´t have any lifejackets on board.

One of the guys
My bag tied on to the roof.My bag tied on to the roof.My bag tied on to the roof.

Picture was taken moments before I decided to take the bag off only to find myself at the behind the bus when it started moving again. Throwing my bag as far into the bag door as possible I was hanging off the back with only a hand and foot holding on to the rail while trying to stop my rucksack falling off with the other limbs. I made it in but covered the rest of the passengers in dust that came in through the back door when hanging on for dear life.
on the boat retired out in San Pedro villiage so just lives well on his US pension and I think there were quite a few people doing the same. Everyone I met had been there twice as long as they had planned and generally had no plans to move on either. The reason being that it is a really beautiful and peaceful place. Not much to do apart from swimming in the lake, hanging out with people and generally taking it easy. It did seem to have quite a liberal approach to weed as there were quite a few people just hanging around getting baked the whole time. Turns out that our hotel was owned by a peasant family whose kids started selling drugs, built up a mini-Empire, built a hotel as a base of the operations and are now all the sons and daughters are in jail. Gramps is running things and kept asking me to pay when I had paid him hours or mere minutes beforehand.

Evenings were spent in "Buddha" (bar) watching the tight house band, playing pool tournaments or watching films up on the first floor. Good mixed bunch of people out there.

Additional photos below
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Lake AtitlanLake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan

Lake overlooked by Volcan San Pedro

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