Lake Atitlán – Santa Cruz la Laguna

Feb 5 – Today is a travel day, so we had our last cooked breakfast and last (?) hot shower at Central Bougainvillea, then went back to our favorite panderia (bakery) to pick up some of their yummy chicken and beef filled pies to take on our journey. The mini-bus picked us up at 12:30 for the three hour ride to Lake Atitlán.

We were dropped off at the dock in Panajachel, the main village on the lake, then immediately whisked onto a small boat that ferried visitors to the surrounding villages. Once again, we were the only not-twenty-somethings in sight.

We are staying at Santa Cruz la Laguna, in an abandoned school that has been reclaimed as a B and B – Casa Kaktus – a bit of a climb from the water’s edge.

Each of the guest rooms is a former classroom, huge by regular room standards. The toilets and showers are down the hall – a boys room and a girls room, of course. Happy to report, the showers have warm water, and the WiFi is excellent!

It is warmer here than Antigua, and we immediately exchanged our long pants for shorts, and our boots for sandals. As soon as the sun went down, however, the temperature cooled and we needed our sweatshirts.

On the roof is a veranda that gives us a great view of the lake and the volcano beyond. I believe this one is Volcán Toliman.I can feel the stress of the day’s travels melting away. I think we’re going to like it here!

Feb 6 – After two cups of excellent hot coffee and our Guatemalan standard daily breakfast of scrambled eggs, fried plantains and black beans with fruit and toast, we set out to explore the tiny town of Santa Cruz.

There are three hotels at the water’s edge that serve dinner (our place does not) so we stopped at each to peruse the menus and the prices. There is also a little comida that serves typical Guatemalan food and does not require a reservation – looks like our kind of place.

In addition to the hotels is a place called Free Cervesa (free beer) where the kids sleep in tents. Here the music was blasting and the kids in their teeny bikinis were soaking up the morning sun.

We stopped to converse with a woman environmentalist from Guatemala City who is going back to school to become an attorney, and a native man selling alpaca blankets from Peru. The woman needed help hooking up the gas tank at her house, and asked Jim to help her. He got the job done – my hero!

Then it was time for lunch. Santa Cruz is called “the vertical village” as you have to climb an extremely steep path to reach the place where the Mayan natives live. We heard that there is a good restaurant up there that helps the local community, so up we went.

We ordered pepian, a stew made with a complex mix of seeds and spices that is considered the national dish of Guatemala. This version was made with chicken, and was delicious.

Up the hill was a school, a little tienda (shop) offering sodas and snacks, and (of course) a church.

Inside the church, the walls were lined with statues – some of saints and some of kings.

On our walk back down the hill (which was much easier than the walk up) we spoke to a woman from New Hampshire who was here for a yoga retreat. This is certainly a groovy place.

Tonight the mist obscured the volcano.

Still a pretty sight.

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