Guatemala: Day 14

Trip Start Nov 07, 2008
Trip End Nov 30, 2008

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Flag of Guatemala  , Western Highlands,
Thursday, November 20, 2008

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 god thing at the perfect time in our rteavels. Just like home really. The effect is so overwhelming, that a handful of Gringo devotees have been permanently rooted to its shores. We had the pleasure of meeting and chattiong with a few of them.

At a family style dinner one night, we met 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! can dream.

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). Here exist some of the few villages where Maya men still 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.

You reach the villages by small fast (sometimes) boats called launches. If the lake is suuuuper rough (which it was)... and the boats are super full(which they were )...then its a slow and very very very very wet ride.

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. The Iguana Perdids (lost Iguana). Still a splurge, but way better scene and great people to surround ourselves with. The owners (American/Brit couple) are amazing people who seem to do a ot for the local village of Santa Cruz La Laguna. 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, 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.

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.
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