Loving Lago de Atitlan

Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
Trip End Jul 06, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hotel Garcia

Flag of Guatemala  , Western Highlands,
Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 110 April 24th continued - I was under the assumption that within 90 minutes and two buses, I would be in Panajachel. This did not quite go to plan. The first bus dropped me off in Chimaltenango, the other side of town from my connecting bus. I trotted across town and jumped in a mini bus, sure, they said, we're off to Panajachel. From this town I knew Panajachel was only 28kms away, but after 40 minutes of driving, I know we are not heading that way. I start chatting to a very young Brit/Aussie couple, Michael and Zoe. They are both heading the same way. We end up getting dropped off on a motorway where other buses were waiting. The couples' Spanish was non existent, so I asked a couple of people where to go and were eventually pointed in the direction of a slowly moving bus. We caught up with the bus and jumped on. Ten minutes later we were leaving this bus and running around the Plaza of a town called Los Encuentros chasing another bus. This time, when I jumped on, I cracked my head on the frame of the back door. Ouch! It was now that I got to know Michael and Zoe a little more. Michael lives in Norwich, originally from London, left school early and met Zoe while travelling around Australia. Zoe is planning on a year long trip of Europe with only $4k Aussie dollars, she knows she'll need to work or couchsurf her way throughout expensive Europe.

We finally arrived into Panajachel and headed towards the Lake. I had already researched a place to stay but it took a while to get there while the couple kept looking at expensive places. Eventually they listened to the old man and got a cheap place just off the main road of Panajachel. We dropped our bags and set off for some food and a view of the lake (Lago de Atitlan). The lake was only a five minute walk from our hostel, it was a Sunday and both sides of the street were lined with market stalls, selling all sorts from clothes, souvenirs to local food and drink.

When we hit the waters edge, we got a better glimpse of this amazing lake. We continued along the lake edge, passing all sorts of food. Michael is a cheeky chappy and is very patient with the indecisive Zoe. She is hungry but cannot make up her mind, we sit in two food stalls and then leave after she sees the menu. I don't know how he tolerates that, young love I guess. In the end she settles for some fruit, Michael gets some tacos and I get some cheesey chips. I wasn't really that hungry considering I had just eaten at the market in Antigua. On the way back to the hostel, they stop to braid their hair, so I agreed to meet up with them later. My plan was to go for a hike around the lake, but then three hours later I woke up on my hostel bed. I had a single room, rested my head for a few minutes and the bed was so comfy that I couldn't get up. There are times when your body tells you enough is enough and this was one of those times. Before I met with the young couple again, I did pop out to check some football scores and grab some cash. Seeing as Michael was an Arsenal supporter, I enjoyed telling them they had just lost to Bolton.

Micheal and Zoe ended up buying some alcohol, some ice and a bucket to put the ice and drink in. We sat in their room drinking for a while before going to search for some food. We saw the South Park take on Jersey Shore, very funny! The indecisiveness continued for dinner, even though they were starving, they walked around for 30 minutes and ended up going for a place near the hostel. Michael and I shared some nachos and I had a burrito, very very tasty. Zoe sulked a little and had nothing to eat or drink, hmmmm, but it was no worry of mine, Michael was having to keep her entertained. She did grab some food on the way home from the street and moaned about it eating it on the way home! Yikes! They tried to guess my age but guessed too old, I got both of their ages correct, 21 and 20, man I felt so old!

Back at the hostel, we carried on drinking some and ended up joining a noisy bunch on the balcony, fours Israelis and two German girls. They were very noisy and unfortunately sat in an area of the balcony that acted as an amplifier, their voices echoed everywhere. The conversation was mainly about drugs, blah blah blah, so I sat and listened and got bored. A tall Swedish girl came out of her room at 1230am and asked them if they could talk more quietly, one of the Germans, instead of apologising, asked if she had ear plugs, then headphones for music, how rude! I was shocked, a simple apology and actually trying to talk quieter would have worked. The same German girl went on a rant about how stupid East German people are and it was at this point I made an excuse and went to bed, I was really not enjoying their ignorant company.

Miles walked 1.95
Temp 25C

Day 111 April 25th - I had a great night sleep. The best for a while. The bed was so so comfy. I didn't see enough of the lake yesterday, still had my Olympic ticket application to send in, so aimed for an 11am bus. I was aiming for a 5am one, but at 430am I turned off the alarm, Flores can wait a little longer. I could spend longer in Panajachel but the lake tours were expensive and I would rather put the cash towards Tikal and Blize.

I dress and head back to the lake, it's a clearer day and the lake looks even more stunning.
I was feeling hungry but all the food stalls were closed. After sitting by the lake for a while I hit an Internet cafe and submitted my application for the Olympic tickets, fingers crossed for the 100m final!! No, I left beach volleyball off, it was too expensive!

I rushed back to the hostel as I left myself 20 minutes to pack and grab my bus. I made the bus with plenty of time to spare. It took 3.5 hours to get back in Guatemala city. These chicken buses have very shiny leather seats, so when the driver motors around a corner you have to hang on for dear life. Seeing as I had a window seat, I regularly had people cuddling up to me, a little more awkward when they are asleep and then are sleeping on you. Anyway, it made me smile, funny slippery seats.

In Guatemala I grabbed a taxi across back to Zona 1 and found a bus leaving for Flores. Some little kid said the bus cost 200 local currency but when consulting my book, it was 110 but they wouldn't let me buy a ticket from the ticket office, just sat me on the bus. Even locals wouldn't give me the price of their ticket. In the end, after an hour of driving, when they finally asked for my money, I only handed over 110 as that was the fair price. The guy said nothing and accepted it. It's so frustrating when they charge white people more, unless they call it a lack of Spanish tax. Anyway, I felt good about not paying 200 so had enough for some food. Well, speaking of food, we drove and drove and drove. It went past 9pm, they usually stop at roadside cafe for twenty minutes so you could eat. My little smiley face was now not so happy. I was very hungry, but at 10pm they did stop. I grabbed some cheap chicken rice and beans and couldn't resist a magnum after. I know but it was so cheap and so so tasty, my smiley face soon returned.

In a couple of hours I should hit Flores.
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El on

Sounds like you met some right plonkers here....ah well, I guess everyone can't be as cool as some of the previous friends!!! x

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