Friday, June 1, 2007
Lago Atitlan, Guatemala
Jen and I just got back from an amazing trip to Guatemala. We weren’t 100 percent sure what to expect when we got there, but as always, things fell into place.
We started our trip by taking a shuttle directly from the Guatemala City airport to Antigua about 45 minutes away. Antigua is a city in the central mountains of Guatemala that is famous for its baroque architecture, church ruins and flowing volcano. We ended up having a mellow day exploring the market, cobblestone streets and a bit of the nightlife before moving on.
The next morning we took a bus to Chichicastenango (Chichi), known for its indigenous market that caters partly to tourism, but also provides much of the goods and services for locals. You can get anything from chicken feet or textiles to machetes there. After about four hours of haggling vendors, Jen and I headed straight to Panajachel (Pana) on Lago Atitlan (Lake Atitlan).
After getting a feel for Pana we decided to go on to one of the more low-key lake villages about a 30 minute boat ride away. The village of San Marcos ended up being our home for the next two nights and was one of the most amazing places we went. For the most part there weren’t any streets or automobiles. There were just cobblestone or dirt paths that traversed the bay. You could easily get from one end of the village to the other in 15 minutes. Many people visit the area for its yoga and meditation retreats, but several travelers were just there to soak up the tranquility like us.
The entire lake was surrounded by volcanoes that peaked at over 10,000 feet. It was a sort of highland jungle and the water was clear green and warm. The lake was surrounded by limestone crags, yet most of the rock looked loose and chosy. There were however several cliffs breaching the water that looked quality.
Regardless, San Marcos was a mellow place that had low cost accommodations and food. You can also load up on plenty of Gallo (local beer) with an amazing view for next to nothing. I highly recommend it.