Atitlan – Chichicastenango – Quetzaltenango – Fuentes Georginas

It’s been a tongue twister of a week! These are some of the places we visited – no wonder we often struggle to remember and / or pronounce them all!

The road to San Pedro at Lake Atitlan was slow and hard-going. There was a little tarmac between the potholes with hairpin bend after hairpin bend, both uphill and down, but we got there in the end about 3 hours late. We took a tuk-tuk through the narrow winding roads of the village to where we were staying which was a bit further out than we wanted but the little chalet was nice, very comfy and had hot water. San Pedro is a party town but after El Paredon we were all partied out and would have been happy to stay in one of the smaller villages scattered round the lake, but San Pedro it was and we were finally there!

San Pedro’s narrow lanes

This was our last week in Guatemala as we make our way towards Mexico. San Pedro is a little bigger than some of the other villages around Lake Atitlan and possibly with a better selection of food so we made this our base for a few days.

The lake has risen recently and houses have become submerged
The water level has risen recently and houses have become submerged. San Pedro volcano sits above town

The view across the lake is beautiful and the main drawcard for visitors. Unluckily for us haze set in after we arrived and took away the blue sky, the clear view of the lake and photo opportunities. It’s a very tranquil setting however our expectations were maybe too high having spoken to so many people who love the lake. To us the towns we saw lacked charm and character, if we had come straight from Perth maybe we would have seen it differently. We’ve been to so many nice places in Central America, just goes to show that we all like different things!

Mornings were the most picturesque
Mornings were the most picturesque

Rather than stick around San Pedro we took the public lancha to some of the other villages. Seeing the native Mayas is one of the things that makes this part of Central America special. You always need to be respectful when taking photos of people but especially here as some Mayas oppose to having their photo taken. So with this in mind we headed off.

The local get-about boats
The local get-about boats
The villages were not as quiet as we expected with shops lining the streets, below ladies chatting and making tortillas

There are so many nice traditions and we’ve grown to enjoy the clap-clap of ladies making tortillas, patter-cake style.

The traditional outfits are amazing and warn by most except for young boys
The traditional outfits are amazing and worn by most except for boys and young men

The next day, which was Sunday, we took the bus to Chichicastenango or Chichi for short. For hundreds of years Chichi has been one of the major trading centres in this area. The market happens twice a week and puts on a colourful display of fabrics and woven goods.

The gate to Chichi village
The gate to Chichi village

The vendors set up stalls in all the laneways turning the whole centre into one big market. It’s truly a sight to see but we would have loved to have seen all the colours in an open air space rather than confined as it was, I suspect it’s due to Chichi’s high altitude and the chance of rain that the market is covered.

Though my eyes had turned bloodshot
As though things had turned bloodshot for a moment, so much red
Bustle of traditional ladies
Men know how to do it sitting down
Men know how to do it sitting down
Choosing the colours for their next project
Choosing the colours for their next project

Chichi is famous for beautifully wowen fabrics and blankets and embroidered tops. In addition to the craftworks, vendors sell fruits, vegetables, flowers, medicinal herbs, machetes and more.

Traditional embroidered tops

Men shop too – finding the right tomato or papaya is important business.

On the steps of the church
Flower vendors on the steps of the church
Snapping photos when no one is looking
Locals come to the market from surrounding villages to sell and buy
All the work is done by carrying on either on back or on the head
it’s impressive what they can carry on the back or on the head
The buses fire up as the day ends
The buses fire up again as the day ends
The place to stay Santo Thomas hotel
The place to stay, Santo Tomas hotel in Chichi

Next up was a short stop in Quetzaltenango (which like the currency is named after Guatemala’s national bird, the Quetzal) although most locals call it by its original name which is Xela.

Rain can come in torrents
Rain can come in torrents, this bridge comes in handy when the rain turns this road into a river

In Xela we bumped into Alex, a guy we first met on the shuttle between El Salvador and Guatemala. He was spending a few weeks in Xela learning Spanish and we were lucky that the following day a group of Spanish students had organised a visit to Fuentes Georginas, which are hot springs an hour outside of town, they still had space on the bus so we signed up…

The spa

The spring was high up the mountain and we drove into thick clouds where visibility was low and we could feel the cold moisture on our skin. The surroundings were spooky but the water in the spring was warm and soothing. It felt pretty magical as we wallowed surrounded by mist and cloud forest, which is a mass of giant ferns and trees. The hot water run down the back of the cliff and into the man made pool.

Soaking for hours
Soaking for hours

After 3 hours in the hot spring we found a nice cafe to chill.

Tomorrow we are taking the shuttle back to Mexico, but this time it will be Chiapas instead of the Yucatan.


    • Nick and Malene says:

      Thanks guys, there are pockets here in Mexico and Central America that transport you to what seems like the past. Interesting places.
      All the best Nick

  1. Tine says:

    Hi Malene and Nick. I’m reading everyone of your postings. They are all wonderful. I enjoy not only the great spectacular views but also your flair for noticing the strange or funny small things. Awesome!
    Everything is fine here 🙂 Love Tine

    • Hey Tine
      Thanks! So happy you are enjoying our stories – we try to entertain. Although we’ll also be happy to share some practical tips when it’s your turn to travel Central America / the world…
      Lots of love
      Malene and Nick

  2. Michael and Simone says:

    Hi Malene , Nick . Just loving all your central American posts . It sure is a fascinating region . We got a glimpse in Peru last year. I certainly have a desire to return someday . Take care both of you.
    Love Simone and Michael .

    • Nick and Malene says:

      Thanks guys, am sure you would love it and find it fascinating, so diverse, it took us by surprise.
      Love to you both.
      Nick and Malene

  3. John Woodhouse says:

    Hi Nick

    With the time difference this should be a very early birthday wish from Pips and me.
    Hope you will have a special day.

    Although you and Malene appear to be living the dream Every day!

    Cheers mate

    • Nick and Malene says:

      Thanks Woody & Pips
      Bday was a washout unfortunately with Montezumas revenge but it’s the thought that counts and back up and running again.
      Enjoying life but body has taken a bashing without regular exercise and swimming, will have hard hill to climb to get back in it when we get back. Hope to see you guys before you head off.
      Cheers Nick and Malene

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