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sunny 28 °C

We had both really wanted to see Lake Atitlan but really were not sure if we would have the time before getting here. After fitting in most of what we wanted to see here in Antigua we decide to investigate getting a day trip to the lake. The organized tours would not guarantee that we would get back in time for our meeting so we opted to arrange a private van and driver and travel in style. I am still experiencing the hangover from my luxury tour of East Africa and not ready to completely abandon a bit of special treatment.

Our day began at 6 am with a 2 hour and 15 minute drive to Panajachal on the Lake. We did stop midway for another wonderful breakfast and coffee. The fried plantains and the oatmeal were the best. Lake Atitlan is known to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and is the deepest in Central America. Atitlan means "at the water". It is incredibly blue and is shaped by deep escarpments which surround it and by three volcanoes to the south. Lake Atitlan is further characterized by towns and villages of the Maya people. We visited three of these towns in our own private boat with our own private driver. Would you expect any different?


The first ride on the lake was amazing and relaxing. We traveled for about 30 minutes until we hit Santiago. We were only off the boat seconds when we are offered an island tour in a tuk tuk. Settling on a price ($15) proved to be a great idea as we quickly navigated the town and its highlights. Our first stop was to see the lady who (supposedly) posed for the face on the 25 centavos coin. They told us about her traditional headpiece explaining that less then 20 % of the woman still wear these. She demonstrated how to make it and allowed us to pose with our own.


Next stop was to see where the ladies gather to do laundry. Each day hundreds of woman come to wash themselves (I was careful to avoid those photos) and their clothes in the lake. I can’t imagine how they get it all home because it must weigh a ton. The fabric in their clothing is thick and heavy. I was fascinated by this and would have been happiest if I was allowed to pull off my shoes and wade in and help. Not that I care to adopt such a method at home. They only use local aloe vera to wash as to not contaminate the pristine lake.


From there we went to the Catholic Church where we sat through a service with joyful song. The town has a 45% catholic population. It was so beautiful to see the sea of colours in the clothing across the congregation. The priest, with the assist of two cheeky boys walked through the church blessing people but did an abrupt turn once he came to me. Could it be that I am beyond prayer?


At this point the winds had come up so we took a very very bumpy ride across to the next town and my personal favourite San Antonio. I think the most striking thing about this town was the sea of blue clothing. This was the least touristy of the three islands and all the woman and girls were dressed in blue woven skirts and tops with sparkling ribbons in their hair. Sadly for me, they were very timid and discrete and most refused having their pictures taken which I had to respect. We simply wandered around this small town and made our way to the churches that we saw as we approached the town. Getting there took us right through the local living. I was hoping to speak to some school girls but they took off at the sight of me, or perhaps my camera.


Another ice cream business, bell in his hand.


The next town was Santa Caterina. As with all the towns the streets were filled with shops of woven goods. We decide to sit here for a bit, enjoy the view and a light lunch. I really must stop being a follower or else Gayle will get me in trouble. After our super hike yesterday she failed again today. Before our meal we were presented with a nice bowl of vegetables. Cauliflower and what appeared to be bell peppers. I assumed they may be marinated just not so sure in what. So immediately following Gayle, I popped a big piece of cauliflower in my mouth just seconds before she began gasping for air and thrashing about for beer. This had to be one of the hottest things we have ever eaten. Not sure how you infuse that much heat into an innocent vegetable but lesson learned. Stop following Gayle’s lead and beware of what you eat.


We took a short boat ride back to our starting point. One of the neatest things along the way was seeing all the fishermen in the carved out boats. Some even had goats on board.


We got back to Antigua at about 4:30 and had time to clean up before meeting our tour. Our new hotel is lovely. Surprising we are the only Canadians on the tour with the biggest mix of nationalities that I have encountered. We have a couple from New Zealand, who along with Janet from South Africa have saved me from being the oldest on the tour. We have a group of young Irish teachers, a couple from Australia and 4 others from England. After a nice supper we opted out of the bar hopping and came back to our room. Tomorrow we have a 7 hour drive to the north of Guatemala and the Jungle. Not sure about internet there but will check in if we can.

It was a really terrific day.


Posted by curlygirl 20:17 Archived in Guatemala Tagged lake g adventures antigua atitilan

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Fabulous post!

by Pearl LeBell

Such colorful pictures..beautiful!

by Rosemary Gordon

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