Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day 20 - Lago Atitlán - Panajachel to San Pedro to Santiago de Atitlan and back

RobT:  We decided to take in the sites and culture of the small villages around Lake Atitlán. The towns are called "Los apóstoles" because they all have biblical names. The lake is absolutely stunning in beauty and quite large! It would take several hours to circumnavigate the lake. The lake is surrounded by volcanoes.  The only way to get to the villages was by boat.  We hired a private boat (15 USD for a 1 hr tour) to San Pedro.  Toured San Pedro.

 Not sure what Rob is looking at ....

 A whole boat to ourselves.

Opulent homes (owned by foreigners) and hotels along the shore of Lago Atitlán.

Ancient Atitlán-type fishing boat still used today.

Next we took a public boat to Santiago de Atitlán.  Now THAT was an experience!!  The boat was crowded with people (I believe I saw 4 life jackets for 20 people) and their belongings. The lake was very rough.  Two guys had to hold a blue tarp draped over the bow of the boat so we wouldn't get wet.

Crowded boat.

Outdoor patio in Santiago de Atitlán.

Street market in Santiago de Atitlán.

RobC being accosted by young girls trying to get his attention and money.  :)

Local boy flying his plastic grocery bag kite.

Poor girl doesn't look impressed by having to sit and tend to the stall.

A gaudy bus loaded with locals and their belongings.  These drivers are CRAZY!  Yesterday we saw one pass a line of cars on a curve, blaring his horn!!  Oncoming traffic moved to the shoulder to let him pass.  The guy pulled over 400 m up the road.  These guys work on numbers and time, so it makes sense, however dangerous it is.

Some more street vendors, the boy on the right selling corn may have been 9 years old.

Lots of hand woven materials.

These guards can be seen everywhere, from outside street ATMs, to a broken down truck on the road to hanging out in a side street like this guy.

This is how they sell a Honda 125 motorbikes in Guatemala.  LOL  Yes, there was loud music and narration in the background.

Relaxing and waiting for a boat back "home".

Do you think she saw me taking her picture?  Yikes!

 Young ladies in typical Caqchiquel dress.

Typical friendly smile. nothing shy about these people.

Santiago de Atitlán was overrun with street vendors right from the dock all the way up the hill to the center of the town.  These little stalls spilled over into the side streets as well. The peddlers were extremely persistent in trying to sell you their goods.  It got to where it was annoying.  There was a neat little outdoor market selling everything from dried fish and shrimp to tomatoes to soap and Colgate toothpaste.  We were warned that the people were not as friendly, and they weren't at this particular town.  Spent maybe an hour here and hitched a boat ride back to Panajachel where we finished the day with a beer at an outdoor restaurant patio overlooking the lake as the sun was starting to set.

 Late afternoon on Lago Atitlán.

 Lovely flowering vegetation in this area.

RobC:  Our hotels are usually rather non-descript, but the hotel at Panajachel is worthy of special mention. We drove into the parking area of the first decent-looking hotel we saw, and it turned out to be a jewel. The kind of place you would like to take the family and stay a week. Our hotel requirements are always the same: secure parking for the bikes, Internet connection, hot water, free breakfast, decent beds and modest cost. The El Cacique hotel was fabulous and...don't be shocked...22 USD a night. The manager, Mr. Emilio greeted us in perfect English and was very accommodating and helpful throughout our two-night stay. All the rooms had big sliding doors to the internal patio, which had a multitude of flowering tropical plants. We had the place all to ourselves, as it is low season.

At night we strolled into town and had some nice, simple food and we met our first group of Dutch-speaking tourists. Of course, I just had to introduce myself and we had a lovely visit. Would have loved to spend more time with them. They were fascinated by our adventure.


  1. RobC, I wonder if those Dutch tourists "assumed" that no one could understand them. The Dutch so often think of Dutch as a secret language (which, as we know, it isn't!).

  2. Hi Dick,

    No, they were just having a nice conversation in an international setting and I just happened to overhear some unmistakable Dutch words. Which reminds me of a story. I once was at a train station in Basel and listened from a distance to a conversation between two station employees in Swiss railroad uniform. I heard what I thought were distinct Dutch phrases and words. In fact, I was so convinced of this that I went up to them and asked them a question in Dutch, to which I got a puzzled look from the Swiss men.

    Greetings from Tegucigalpa, Honduras,