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!
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 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!
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.
There are so many nice traditions and we’ve grown to enjoy the clap-clap of ladies making tortillas, patter-cake style.
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 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.
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.
Men shop too – finding the right tomato or papaya is important business.
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.
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 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.
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.
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