After the harrowing volcano climb in Antigua, we deserved some rest time right? Well, we thought we did so we decided to head to Lago Atitlan or Lake Atitlan, which is a beautiful lake surrounded by volcanoes and mountains. Located around the lake are a series of small towns. We decided to head to the town of San Pedro as we were able to get a shuttle there directly from Antigua. And our shuttle driver, to quote Rain Man, was an "excellent driver". As parts of the road were unpaved, he navigated carefully and then for each of the scary hairpin turns, he made sure to honk to let potential oncoming traffic know we were coming.
As we drove, we passed through foggy villages and Guatemalans of all ages picking coffee or walking along the road with loads of sticks for firewood. Pickup trucks filled to the brim with coffee workers whizzed by us. We definitely felt like we stepped out of the "Disneyland" version of Guatemala that Antigua represents and into a more authentic experience.
Our first look at San Pedro:
That is, until we arrived in San Pedro. A fairly touristy town where the tourist center is located next to the two docks and the Guatemalan village life is up the hill, San Pedro is known for its hippie lifestyle and ease of access to certain mind altering chemicals. However, it was cheap and relatively quiet and we were too lazy to pack up again to travel to another town. We spent a couple of days relaxing from all of that studying we had to do (but really didn't), read some books, and worked a bit on our blog. We even got to watch a bootleg version of Avatar at one of the bars there - with German subtitles whenever the aliens were speaking.Bathers in the lake:
Dock, San Pedro:
San Pedro village:
Kitten sleeping in one of the stores we went to (on a bag of dog food):
But we can't rest for too long can we? We did decide to try our hand at hiking ONE MORE volcano, Volcan San Pedro. This volcano is located right next to the town and you start the hike from the town center and head up and up to the volcano. Starting at 4500 ft and ending up at 9000 ft, it is a fairly arduous hike. Let me put it this way: there may have been a few tears, a few "I can't do this-es" and a few panic attacks about not being able to breathe in the altitude. But once I calmed Tom down we were able to continue (Just kidding, of course the culprit was me and Tom was very understanding! I just didn't like that guide was going Mach 10 up the volcano).We first got to see a beautiful sunrise:
Tom doing his best Tarzan impression on the rope swing near the top:
The views from the top were amazing:
This dog followed us the whole was - all 4500 ft. The guide says he often accompanies the hikers. I asked what his name was and he didn't have one so I started calling him Pedro after the volcano. Poor guy was so skinny I couldn't help but feed him some leftover bread:
We started the hike at 6:00 am and got back around 1:30 pm. I was very exhausted and spent the rest of the day recuperating. Tom had read in the guidebook that one of the restaurants offers paella if you ordered it for two people 24 hours ahead of time. Since we had already arranged it, I dragged myself along but wasn't feeling well enough to eat it - so Tom ate both of our portions! It's a tough job but someone's got to step up huh. We don't quite know how the restaurant stays in business as we were the only patrons there that night. In fact, that was quite a pattern with us with most of our meals being either the only ones in the whole restaurant or only one of a couple of customers. Guess the recession has also hit San Pedro pretty hard.
On the last day we took a small boat, or launcha, to San Marcos, an even smaller village on the lake. San Marcos is also known for it's hippie feel but it's a more yoga-practicing /eating granola kind of hippieness. As soon as we got there we were upset we didn't motivate ourselves to pack our bags and go and stay there as it was so pretty, quiet, and relaxing. We arrived hungry and headed to an authentic Mayan place for lunch. So authentic it took about an hour for our lunch to arrive as it was made from scratch. In the meantime, we had to got to play with the Noah's ark of animals located in the restaurant (and yes, besides the animals we were the only ones there). This one cat wouldn't leave Tom alone and we dubbed her Gallo, Guinness's Guatemalan cousin (Gallo is the most popular beer here in Guatemala).View of San Pedro volcano from the lake:
Tom on the launcha:
Gallo looking less than thrilled:
We strolled through the footpaths of San Marcos and ran into a couple of guys that were living in our home-stay in Antigua with us. We also saw another two people that stayed with us at our home-stay getting off the boat but they didn't hear us call their names. It's a small world on the traveler circuit!Church, San Marcos:
Some pretty flowers:
Dock, San Marcos:
One of the hills we didn't climb, but could have, was D'Noz or the Indian Nose. Here is Tom illustrating how it looks like an Indian Nose:
It was nice relaxing in San Pedro for a few days, but it was time to move on. Tom had one more volcano (at least) he wanted to climb so we headed to Quetzaltenago, or Xela, for our next part of our journey. More to come!