Lake Atitlan- Rough Roads It Would Seem (Guatemala)

Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan

After a full week in Antigua we were excited to move on a see somewhere new. We woke up early Sunday morning (which has somehow become our travel day…this was the third Sunday in a row of travel) to catch our 8 am shuttle to San Pedro la Laguna, along the shores of Lake Atitlan. I was still recovering from my little battle with the flu, and this travel day turned into day from hell for my body. The shuttle was supposed to pick us up at 8, which usually would mean 8:15- 8:30 in Guatemalan time. However, since the gods chose to crap on us this particular Sunday, we did not make it off of the curb and into the shuttle until 9:25. Since we were last to get picked up we had the front seats in the van. Logan was nice and gave me the window (as I was actively trying to keep my vomit inside my sick body at this point) while he was stuck with the stick shift essentially between his knees for the whole ride. All shuttles/collectivos down here are exactly the same 12 or 15 passenger vans regardless of whether they are Toyota, Honda, or Mitsubishi (literally the same vehicle) and have a foldout seat behind the stick shift (all manual transmission too) and often have more tiny foldout seats.

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The road leaving Antigua is in really good shape, so it was smooth sailing for a while. But after the cigarette stop (pretty much all travelers down here seem to smoke) we turned down a twisty, windy, bumpy road down to the shores of the lake. The road was so narrow that that the driver would honk his horn at every curve to let people know he was coming. The view going down the hill was amazing and I was glad we were in the front so we could see the beautiful lake ringed by volcanoes. We got to San Pedro a little after lunch time and shopped around a bit for a room. I was feeling pretty close to death at this point, so we picked a room at Casa Elena, right on the lake (for 70 QZ or $8 US) with a full sized bed and I passed out. While I slept Logan walked around the little town, getting a feel for the place. He ate some delicious tacos for lunch and walked up and down the giant hills of town. I woke up still feeling horrible, but I had not really eaten in over 24 hours, so I feasted on a small baggie of popcorn and one taco. Then more sleep.

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My lovely polka dotted skin

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I woke up the next morning FINALLY feeling like myself again, so we went for coffee and to figure out what we were going to do for the day.We had not been sure how we felt about San Pedro the previous day, but after a little more wandering we decided we just were just really underwhelmed. It is pretty dirty and very backpacker-y (lots and lots of cheap and run down places to stay and eat) and there was really no way to be at the lake itself. The views were nice (they were nicer from the road in and out of town) and I suppose if we had really wanted to we could have hiked up the mountains for better views, but all in all we were not impressed with town. It appeared that the only way to really enjoy the lake was to either kayak (which we probably would have done had we decided to stay more than one day) or by taking speed boats to the different towns (which didn’t really allow for enjoying the scenery anyway). Other people seem to love it though, as town was filled with backpackers who had spent days and even weeks hanging out. Maybe if we had stayed somewhere different…I don’t really know, but we did not “get” the vibe of San Pedro and decided to leave the next day.

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For lunch we ate at Nick’s, right on the water. In the afternoon we ended up at the thermal hot springs for a couple hours (80 QZ for the solar heated tub, BYOB) which was nice and relaxing. No one else was there, so we had the whole jungle oasis to ourselves. Later in the afternoon we read in some plastic chairs overlooking the lake at our hotel before grabbing drinks and more tacos (the tacos were the highlight of San Pedro, they were soooooo good!)

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The next morning we woke up early (again) for our shuttle to Lanquin (via Antigua). All in all, we were glad to have gone to see the lake, which was breathtakingly beautiful, but San Pedro ended up just not being for us. We hoped to like Lanquin better.

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