LoveLEE San Pedro

Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Zoola Hostel

Flag of Guatemala  , Western Highlands,
Monday, September 12, 2011

Four of us departed Gringolandia (aka Antigua) with a tourist shuttle bus (think Cape Town mini-van taxi) bound for San Pedro - Dee, Mr Lee, Manuela from Austria and Evan from the States. Manuela had been travelling northwards through Latin America since January after spending 6 months in Colombia working for a local newspaper and learning Spanish, her seventh language at age 25! Evan is the co-founder of ZionEyez ( They are Rayban-styled sunglasses with a built-in 720p HD video camera enabled for streaming live to social media sites. The must-have gadget this Christmas!

The final stretch down the windy road to San Pedro was rather bumpy, this despite our driver's careful attempts at zigzagging around a myriad potholes and fallen rocks. It was the type of road that causes tyres to burst and axles to shatter, yet somehow we made it safely to the lake's edge.

San Pedro is one of several Mayan villages on the shores of Lake Atitlan. It is reasonably backpacker-friendly but not backpacker-jammed at this time of year. We discovered that it was also home to plenty of "Gringos Con Perros", Westerners with dogs. They probably visited as backpackers like us then ended up staying long enough to establish a home, perhaps a business and acquire a dog. There is a great feel about the place so it was easy to see why people might stay. Spanish schools with homestay options also tend to draw people in.

Our hostel did what it said on the tin. Zoola apparently means place/state of relaxation in Hebrew and/or Arabic, it's Israeli-owned and Israel-patronised. We were the minority by far, us non-Israelis. We chatted to some of the single travellers but we most Israelis tend to travel in groups of 4 or more who stick to themselves. This makes it hard to penetrate, giving off an impression of unfriendliness. But never mind, we had our party of 4, a few bottles of rum, cushions to chill on and a great pool to enjoy at the edge of the lake. One night we ventured into the nearby thermal pools where for Q35, they'll fill your own little pool with hot water, give you towels and light some candles under the starry skies. A very romantic setting indeed, just ask the couple at the next pool!
The food in San Pedro was deeleecious! We kicked off the feasting with supersized burritos from the Burrito Factory right on the lakefront, and we revisited a few days later just to double-check their deeleeciousness! Breakfast was a veggie/cheese omelette and a huge bowl of fruit, yogurt and granola from a breakfast-only place beneath the gym. 

Thanks to Manuela's enthusiasm (and persistence) we all visited the gym to work off the calories. It was small and basic with 5 bikes, an elliptical trainer, free weights and a few resistance pieces. It had everything we really needed except paper in the loo and drinkable water. It felt great to get the old heart jump-started and to get the blood flowing! 
All energised we were ready to explore some of the lake, using San Pedro as our base...
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