Friday, January 09, 2009

Lake Atitlán

The last part of Eva and my trip is Lake Atitlán. Lake Atitlán is the deepest lake in Central America and one of the most beautiful in the world. In ancient times, it was thought to be a spiritual center, much like the Pyramids in Egypt. Today, the traditional indigenous people that live around the lake have found a way to co-exist peacefully with the dreadlock-wearing, pot-smoking, wonky gringos that also seem to be drawn here. There is a strong ex-pat population in a few of the cities!

Our base is the town of Panajachel, the biggest on the lake. From here, you can take a public boat and visit other towns around the lake including San Pedro and San Marcos la Laguna. We paid the 25Q fee (much higher than what the locals pay) and hopped on the boat for a 50 minute trip along part of the lake. We decided to get off the boat at San Pedro to explore the city across the lake. While in San Pedro we tasted some Guatemalan coffee and walked around the small town, all the while trying not to get run over by the Thai-inspired tuk-tuks that populate the streets:

We even saw some of the local ladies doing laundry in the lake:

We also saw some coffee plants, as well as a small processing plant where the fruit is removed and the beans are dried:

On the boat ride back to Panajachel our captain was a crazy gringa!

We were pleased to find that the food in Panajachel is much cheaper and more delicious than the rest of Guatemala. Dinner has been running us about $4/night here.

On Thursday we took a shuttle with Daniela (a fellow Pacaya climber) to Chichicastenango for their big Thursday market-the biggest market in Central America. We saw a variety of goods including: handmade blankets, hammocks, scarves, placemats, traditional clothing, various wooden masks, and plenty of food. In front of one of the churches was the flower market:

We said goodbye to Daniela, who is headed back to Croatia, and now we are enjoying the last bit of our time here together with some chocolate fondue:

Tomorrow Erich is coming (yay!) and we will start the last leg of my Guatemalan adventure. We’re taking a boat to the town of Santiago Atitlán, one of the most traditional cities surrounding the lake. While there we’ll be volunteering for a week in Hospitalito Atitlán through the NGO Pueblo a Pueblo. Eva will be heading back home (boo!) to get ready for another pharmacy school rotation.

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