El Salvador | Guatemala

Day 14 : Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala

Lago de Atitlan touches the the limit of picturesque; an astonishingly beautiful highland lake surrounded by immense volcanoes. It is really to much of a good thing at the perfect time in our travels. Just like home really. The effect is so overwhelming, that a handful of Gringo devotees have been permanently rooted to its shores. We had  a chance to meet and chat with a few of them on our first stop in Panajachel. 

Panajachel is easily accessible from Antigua or Guatemala City, most buses and shuttles end up here and all the boats to Lake Atitlán’s surrounding villages leave from Pana’s docks. As a result, Pana receives loads of tourists of all kinds. 

You reach the perimeter villages by small fast (sometimes) boats called launches, often run privately by villagers. 



Our very smiley taxi boat driver.
Approcahing Casa del Mundo in the village of Jaibalito. Ahh...look at her...no razor wire. This was supose to be our Honeymoon splurge at comfort and niceness.
His son, who works as his dock hand.
Bri, ready for a bit of doing nothing with a side of cervesa.

For Atillan, we decided to splurge. Yes, Geoff and Graber...we splurged. Casa del Mundo first which proved to be a little too nice and a little too quiet, so we moved after 1 day. We did spend 1 night there though, and enjoyed it - it was just a little too quiet for us. Plus - everyone was old. 

At a family style dinner one night, we did meet one couple in their early 60's (from Norway) who a just few years ago, decided to take their first ever back packing trip. They traveled all over the world for a year and found themselves spellbound by Atitlan and are currently building a house there. The really cool thing is (you construction and design geeks) the houses are constructed (formed) our of mud/clay, windows and doors cut out, everything set to final wishes...then set on fire. It is baked like firing a piece of pottery to set it like concrete. Imagine the endless possibilities along with no building codes! Ahhhhhh...one can dream.


The welcome sign at Casa Mundo.
Case Mundo and the outdoor living room which faces the Lake.
Did I say our "wee" room? hehe
About to treck up the rediculuously steelp windy stone steps. Been out of Altitule for a little too long.
Our super cute little room - with a patio view of the Lake.
Brian eating something - not sure what....
Chillin - view of Lake Atitlan from the hammock .

The other bonus to Atitlan is the strength of the Mayan culture evident in its Lakeside settlements, still som e of the most traditional villages in all of Guatemala (despite the ammount of "tourism" here). If you’ve ever wondered what happened to the Mayans, it’s not that they disappeared — come to Lake Atitlan and you will be surrounded by them! And each town has its own signature style of clothing and wear traditional costume. There are 13 vilages on its shores on total - ranging from cosmopolitan-resort style (in a Guatemalan way of course) to tiny isolated farming communities.

We Ventured up into Jaibalito...a small village. All the kids were riding cardboard sheets down the hill and having a blast.
San Pedro road work. OK Farbotko's and Dad...love your jobs! This is what they have to start with.
San Pedro road work. OK Farbotko's and Dad...love your jobs! This is what they have to start with.
San Pedro Village We bought fresh homemede cakes from this cute lady.
Approcahing San Pedro by boat taxi and spent the day in San Pedro Village. How's that for building codes! Lets all hang out there and see how many we can fit.
Then, each rock is flattened out by hand! Tink tink tink with a hammer and spike....
Closer to the after product.
Taking it easy at a lakeside cafe. Side cars.....

Well, when we decided to leave the Retirement Home lodging, we moved to "La Iguana Perdida" (the lost Iguana). Still a splurge, but way better scene and great people to surround ourselves with. The owners (American/Brit couple) are an amazing couple who seem to do a lot for the local village of Santa Cruz. They were priming for their annual christmas party they throw for the village children. The villagers make christmas ornaments that the Iguana sells. The villagers make $2.50 on each one, then the Iguana sells them for a profit which is all put towards the party. Food, Prizes and gifts like pencils and pens. They have sac races and an egg carry race (which the first time was a disaster because the kids had no idea what to do with an egg on a spoon). If anyone wants to send us a pack of pencils or pens (or whatever), we are sending them all of our left over stickers from our travels to use as prizes.... anything helps.


The Lost Iguana in Santa Cruz village. The new place that has a the fun backpackers - waaaaay better.
The inside of our new fun room at Lost Iguana.
The Iguana offers Lake Dives. Bri before his big first ever high altitude dive (I was sick but as mildly freaked out anyway...). Brian got to try his scuba skills in the lake where he saw crazy petrafied trees, lava flows, and volcanic ash so deep, no one knows how deep the lake really is.
The Patio at the Lost Iguana - the pit for nightly bonfires.
The inside of our room at Lost Iguana.
Sunset over the Lake at Santa Cruz Village.

Today we leave the pristine Lake setting for our last 2 days here. Back to Antigua our last night and very special wedding gift from Jen and Ai,  Sue and Leo. Thank you  - we are so excited!  But until the bus to Antigua arrives , we are back in Panajachel killing time waiting for the bus. Brian tried in this  sweet which he should have brought home! 

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