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Published: March 4th 2009
School was over for another week and I needed to go somewhere to relax. There are a multitude of destinations that are nearby Antigua that one can visit during the course of a weekend between classes. It was just a question of where to go! It was Friday lunchtime before I eventually selected a destination - It was going to be ‘Lago de Atitlan’.
One of the cheapest ways (and in my opinion, most comfortable) is to take a local ‘Pullman Bus’ directly to the lake. It is far cheaper than using a private shuttle service, where they tend to pack you into an old toyota van like a pack of sardines for double the price. Instead - for $5, I got a reclining seat and ample leg room for the 2.5 hour journey to the lake.
I travelled to the lake with another girl from my house and together we made the 6am journey on Saturday to reach the lake around 9am. The lake itself is surrounded by a series of pueblos, the largest of which is Panajachel. Not surprisingly, it is the most built up of all the towns and the one least likely to be peaceful.
Instead we decided to spend our weekend in a hostel (called “La Iguana Perdida”) in the peublo of Santa Cruz La Laguna (the first town after Panajachel). The hostel was previously recommended to us by another student because of the Saturday night cross dressing party and the laid back atmosphere of the town (By laid back I also mean - No electricity! No running water!), so I was curious to see what I was getting myself in for.
The hostel itself is located right at the dock of Santa Cruz, so it was impossible to miss. Rustic was definately the most appropriate word for the place as it was essentially a series of log cabins surrounded by avocado trees & banana palms in a very, very quite town. So quiet in fact that it's main inhabitants are the locals (local ex-pats!) and a selection of four accommodation options, mainly yoga retreats (including ours). There were no calls of "Buy this or buy that" no calls of "Do you want taxi, do you want tour?" It was perfect! We selected our cabin, dumped our bags and headed out for a walk around the lake.
I havent previously mentioned this,
La Iguana Perdida
Our very own bungalow...
but Sonya, the girl I was travelling with is a yoga instructor & personal trainer - This has significance because of our "different opinions" with regard to the phrase "a walk around the lake"....
Here I was casually strolling along behind her as she bounded over logs & boulders, took a dip in the lake (it was cold!!) and basically jumped around as fit as all hell, while I slowly made my way beside her. The views around the lake were magnificent, we had nothing to ruin our solitude, except for the odd local walking past and the heavy breathing on my part (as I tried to catch up with her). Not content to walk along the shore - she led me further inland & upwards towards the hills to try and get a better vantage point of the volcano. Oh! but did that experience wreak havock with my very unfit form! Tired, hot & panting - with no water, I could do nothing but stand by watching her jump around with as much energy as a 5 year old, while I slowly hyperventilated beside her. (Note to self: Hire a personal trainer when I get home! Sigh!)
Usually there are regular boats to take you around to the other pueblos, with the last boat generally returning by 6pm to Panajachel. After our walk we caught the next boat to take us to the pueblo of San Pedro (the second largest pueblo on the Lake). San Pedro is a small, compact little town - full of little alleyways leading in all sorts of different directions. A hippy town, it is filled with foreigners sitting by the road side selling their assortment of handmade jewellrey and cookies (Not your usual cookie!
We got there around 3pm which didnt leave us with very much time to explore the town in time to catch the last boat back to Santa Cruz. We wandered around the streets trying to find a cheap taco place suggested to us by an American couple we met along the way. Three tacos for 10Q ($1.25) - What more did I need? 😊. San Pueblo has loads of Spanish Language schools that are around half the price of what I am paying for in Antigua (Including accommodation) - but as it is more like a mini Amsterdam, the likelihood of actually studying (ie rather than spending
A restaurant for me....
my time in a coffee house) would be minimal. Ahem! 😱.
We got back to Santa Cruz to prepare for the evenings festivities (That night's theme was "Hollywood"). This involved rummaging through a very large pile of old clothes, shoes, wigs and other assorted items from the ´change room´at the hostel. I transformed into a Jeanie while Sonya became Marilyn for the evening. We all sat down to a buffet dinner communal style - with all of the guests sharing the same table, followed by dancing & sweets...(cookie perhaps?).
From what I can remember, the place was full of interesting people (strange as well).....There was the very muscley (read - "meathead") American guy who, upon realising that I was Australian wanted to do nothing but talk to me about rugby! "Ugh! Did I look that interested?"
.....Then there was the very hip 70 yr old woman dancing in her very tight satin pants with her ´boyfriend´ while her 82 yr old husband stayed at home. (Hmm...I didn't realise I had stumbled across a community of old time swingers).....Then there was the group of American dentists on a volunteer assignment at the lake for a few weeks. I spent time
talking to one of them (in a bright blue dress!) who was giving me a run down about what to see when I get to New York - If I remember correctly, priority number one was to visit him in New England (where is that?).
Not surprisingly the night slowly disintegrated from there with the abundance of homemade vodka shots, copious amounts of Cuba Libres & other sweets 😊. My memory of the evening is somewhat hazy...but I just hope that half of what I did say to anyone throughout the night made at least some sense (Oops!). For the guy in the pink dress with his arse on show...I hope you fared better than me....
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