25.11.2007 - 30.11.2007 24 °C
After spending a full week in expensive Antigua, we have finally made it to Lake Atitlan, where we are staying for a few days.
Antigua was good - I finally calmed down after the first two days of incessable walking around, revisiting the old places I knew and checking out the new ones. Antigua is like a Restobar-Disneyland, there are venues of all sorts and taste. Most businesses are unfortunately foreign, and in effect foregneirs are buying our the city leaving the locals with a very high cost of living and low salaries. But the place is vibrant and the city beautiful and still worth a few days, despite not being anything like the real Guatemala. So, while Gregory spent his entire week going swimming in the morning and taking Spanish lessons with Teresa in the afternoon, I spent my time looking around and planning our last month in Mexico. We now have a fairly detailed itinerary for Mexico, though we still dont know if we will be able to spend any time on the coast for New Years, since everything seems to be booked out.
In Antigua we indulged in some reall nice restaurants, the best experience being a jazz brunch at Panza Verde, the top restaurant for refined cuisine as well as a beautiful colonial hotel. We also managed to go dancing at the Villa Antigua with Teresa and Janet like in the old days - meeting at Janet's for drinks before getting to the venue, where drinks are expensive.
On Sunday we took the shuttle to Lake Atitlan. Prices for shuttles have come down from the time I was here, or the price of the public buses have gone up - one of the two - so it does not make a lot of economic sense to travel on Guatemala's famous chicken buses. Chicken buses are beautifully colourful, noisy, vibrant buses, and people transport all sort stuff on them, including small animals - from there their name. They are not as elaborate as the ones in Panama City, but they are still exceptionally beautiful. Once on the lake we took the lancha to S Pedro La Laguna, where Adi was waiting for us. We checked in at his hotel - Hotel Tepepul Kaan - a really nice little hostel incredibly quiet for the location in the very centre of S Pedro.
S Pedro is quite a peculiar place. It is the hippie capital of Guatemala - and maybe of the whole of Latin America - you see the weirdest people walking around, most with long, uncombed hair and very few teeth in their mouth. Not really pretty sights to be honest, and quite effective to put you off drugs forever... Nevertheless, the place is pleasant, there are lots of nice cosy venues where to have excellent cheap food and enjoy life.
We didnt really do much there apart from eating and drinking - food is about half price than back in Antigua. The town is full of places that will show movies for free, plus facilities to download music and films, so you can keep quite busy just doing that. The best places we found were D-Noz and their super nachos dish, by the jetty, Buddha, a moldy place that dishes out fantastic thai food and where on Mondays a really good blues band plays live, and Shanti Shanti, another little rudimentary restaurant with very good breakfasts and falafels.
Apart from pigging out, one day we managed to go hiking on a section of the lake, walking along the path that joins the villages from Santa Cruz to San Marcos. That took a few hours and was enjoyable and worthwhile.
Today we are back in Antigua for one night, in the morning we are off to Lanquin to see the famous Semuc Champeys limestone pools and caves, which is about 8 hours north of here, on the way to Tikal. Tikal will be our last stop in Guatemala.
Here it is, the most typical Atitlan pic..
The path and views from Santa Cruz to San Marco
Mural in S Juan