Live #25, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
10/01/2015 I’m still in San Pedro Sula and tried everything to get into the Cusuco National Park and to replace my broken lens. Unfortunately, both did not work out in the end and I will now move on to Lake Yojoa without a working camera 🙁 But let’s talk about the past, Lake Atitlan. When I first did my research about Guatemala, I quickly came across Lake Atitlan and ever since had the strong desire to go there. A lake surrounded by three volcanoes sounded and looked great and it was so worth going there in the end!
The chicken bus got me into Panajachel, the main tourist hub around the lake. The complete town is based on tourism and I was glad that I would not stay over there and instead go to the less touristic spots around the lake, hopefully getting in touch with the locals during my two scheduled couchsurfing occasions as well. Taking a lancha over to Santiago Atitlan, I immediately liked the atmosphere there much better.
Instead of all the backpackers walking around, I could now spot a lot of friendly locals on the way to my Couchsurfing place, which was pretty interesting and hard to find by the way! After making my way through a bunch of bushes and back alleys, I eventually made it to the Hotel which was supposed to be just next to the place and got picked up from there 🙂 Their house looked great and my lovely host even let me use her room since they had another guest at the same time, already occupying the couch.
On the next day, I walked around the city to find the Maximón. Not being able to do so, I had to use my superb Spanish skills to ask the local people and eventually made it there. They wanted to charge me to take pictures inside, so I only got one from the outside instead. It was lunch time afterwards and I got four empanadas and a bag full of fruit for just 21Q (~2,20€) – streed food is just awesome!
Another great source for food was located just five minutes walking distance away from the Couchsurfer place: Las Lagartijas. Located in a small booth outside of town, it provides delicious food and you should check it out if you are in the area! After a cold swim in the lake here, tucked in between the three volcanoes, I eventually had to move on again, this time to another smaller village on the other side of the lake: Santa Cruz.
The prices for the lanchas were recently raised apparently and the information I got on the internet was not valid anymore. Now you have to pay 25Q (or 20Q if you negotiate like I did) to cross the lake. I had to change boats in Pana again and used the opportunity to buy a new mouse there since I had just broken mine a day before. Getting to Pana was a wild ride actually, the boat took on a bit too many people, leaving me without a seat in the front on the by far bumpiest ride ever! I had to hold on with both hands and was still jumping half a meter in the air while sitting on the ground and everyone was screaming as if they would be in a rollercoster. Just thinking about it makes my ass hurt again!
When I finally arrived in the small and relaxed Santa Cruz, I was picked up by my next Couchsurfer and his guest. A japanese couple decided to use this village as their base in Guatemala and I can totally understand why! It was just great there and thanks to my hosts, I could make the most out of my time. We walked around the town and had a great dinner together in the evening. Ironically enough, their guest used to be a korean WarCraft 3 programer as well and it was funny talking to him about the good old times with players like SlayerS_BoxeR, which we both knew from our time as a gamer. At that moment we wished to have two computers to play a round haha 🙂
On the next day, we had lunch in Posada Jaibalito, run for over nine years by a German guy called Hans. If you go there, say Chris said hi, you will easily recognize him thanks to his immense white beard 🙂 He offers traditional German food and even bread for a very low price, definitely a highlight and hidden gem! The village of Jaibalito is great as well, no road is leading there and you either have to walk or take a lancha. The locals here are even more friendlier it seemed and you will see lot’s of kids playing around on the street. This afternoon was one of my highlights along the lake!
The next and final stop was the backpacker village of Lake Atitlan: San Pedro. I liked it much more than Pana, because despite having the same amount of backpackers, the village itself was just more pleasant. After staying in a pretty cheap place somewhere in the back of the village, I moved over to Hotel Mikaso for the other two nights. This place was perfect, located outside of the busy area but still close enough to walk everywhere. You will have some great views from there and even be able to enjoy the hot pool for free! They also had good Internet there and I could follow my team Frankfurt win against Dortmund with 2-0 in the German Bundesliga 🙂 What a good day it was…