Our last stop in Guatemala was to the beautiful Lake Atitlan. Famous British writer Aldous Huxley once wrote that Lago Atitlan “touches the limit of the permissibly picturesque” and “is really too much of a good thing.” We had high hopes for a place with such glowing reviews. After studying Spanish in Antigua, we were looking foward to chilling out at the Lake. We had heard that it was a great place to chill out and that some people often go there to visit and never leave.
We hopped a shuttle van to San Pedro, known to be the coolest town around the lake. Since Tropical Storm Agatha had blown through the area just two weeks before, the ride there was a bit tedious, with numerous road blocks causing our driver to switch lanes to avoid the fallen rocks and mudslides. At points, the road had just given way to the waterlogged earth and huge holes replaced where the roadway used to be. A bit scary, like many of the rides through Guatemala.
Once we arrived in San Pedro, a group of hustlers greeted our shuttle van all trying to convince us to go to a hotel that would give them a kick-back. We went off on our own and got a great second floor room at Jarachik Hostel with a shared balcony with amazing views of the lake for just $15 a night! We settled into a cute candlelit table at the restaurant downstairs and enjoyed some cheap beer and a decent meal. We ventured off to Buddha Bar and got some seriously cheap beer – a liter of Victoria (a decent Guatemalan beer) set us back just 20 Quetzales or $2.50 USD!
We ate a fantastic breakfast at Cafe La Puerta – a serene & affordable lakefront restaurant with delicious food and amazing surroundings. We had a nice lunch at Le Jardin, a beautiful garden restaurant. We also enjoyed several curries, and found most of the food and drink to be inexpensive, albeit un-Guatemalan, but it worked for us “gringos.”
We went horseback-riding around the lake with our trusty guide, Javier. Our horses were a bit thin and shaky at times on the steep mountain trail, but the views were sublime.
We saw fields of corn and coffee trees, and unfortunately, some more destruction around the Lake from Agatha’s wrath. We got to enjoy a ” “beach,” but chose to just stick our feet in as, sadly, the lake is far too polluted for safe swimming.
This poster caught our eye, so we headed to the only bar in town showing the US World Cup game with English commentary. USA lost, but it made for a fun afternoon.
After a 30 minute boat ride across the lake, we arrived in Panajachel, another neat little lakefront town. We managed to find a cheap room at Mario’s Rooms, which included cable TV, WiFi, and a free full breakfast. It rained for nearly our whole stay here, and that combined with allergies and a bad pizza, caused us to be sick in more ways than one for most of the time in Panajachel (thank goodness we had cable TV!). That said, I did have a fun time trying to snap photos of the many hummingbirds which feed on the beautiful flowers in the hotel’s garden. In the end, fun times at the Lago.