Lake Atitlán

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After having a nice evening of dreaming and enjoying the Laguna Lodge, I ran into a slight challenge. You see, I have a problem with bugs. I try to not let them bother me but I just can’t stand bugs. I knew in advance that the hotel was rustic and basically in the forest but I don’t think I properly prepared myself for it. The other not unrelated challenge is that I absolutely cannot sleep when I feel warm. There is no A/C system at the Laguna Lodge. Not a problem considering how cool it is outside but opening the doors means letting in even more bugs (since they inexplicably do not have screen doors or any way to get air flow in without bringing in the bugs, ants, flies, and whatever else is hovering out there). So I had to just tire myself out enough to fall asleep bugs or no bugs, this eventually happened around 4am. The room itself was very comfortable with a big comfy bed, nice big bathroom with a big shower, and it had a rustic authentic feel to it. They upgraded me to the Quetzal room for free as well, which had an amazing view and big balcony. Though none of that mattered the first night because flies kept buzzing past my head and the room was sweltering!

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The next morning, I got up around 9am and visited the hotel restaurant for breakfast. I was decidedly underwhelmed by breakfast. Mostly because the windows in the restaurant were wide open and flies and ants seem to descend on me. I finally gave up trying to eat and let the bugs have the rest! It was that bad. At dinner, the windows are closed and I found the bug problem far less pronounced. On the upside, when I got back to my room I found that it was already being cleaned and it was comforting to see them clean out the bugs too. I also asked the young man cleaning it if they had a “ventilator” which I think means fan and thankfully he said “yes”. So that solved one problem for the 2nd night!

I decided at that point that I couldn’t sit around the hotel all day but without sleeping much I got a later start than I usually do and unlike most places I visit, I could not easily go for a walk and see a lot of things since the hotel was isolated and nature walks are not exactly my thing.

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So I caught the pricey boat ride to Panajachel (about $20 – $25 US each way). At first, when I got there, I found the town to be pretty underwhelming with nothing but street vendors selling the same stuff. Determined to correct my negative mindset, I did what I always do when things get a bit sour and I started walking. I just kept walking until I found something interesting. As normal, the universe didn’t let me down!

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I ended up at the end of Calle Santander and found a beautiful spot for photos and views of the lakes. Panajachel does have tourists of course, but it’s certainly a more gritty town and I wouldn’t call it a “resort town”. There is clear poverty and a lot of street merchants who will approach you. Obviously, street merchants are not isolated to Panajachel and some variation of that can be found all over the planet so that didn’t bother me at all. The more I walked the more I discovered and found little off the beaten path shops and food vendors and I enjoyed watching the kids play in the streets and taking in the sights and sounds of the town. It turned out to be a very nice shortened day exploring the city.

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I tried Papusas and then found a Uruguayan restaurant **insert restaurant name**. I also bought a little coffee table book on Guatemala history and culture and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Upon return to the docks at Kayusco for the boat ride back to the hotel, I decided to hire a boat instead of using the hotel’s expensive service. I found the boatman I hired charged me half of what the hotel does so I’d definitely recommend hiring your own boat if you need to cross the lake.

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I got back to the hotel to storming rain. When I got into the hotel, I realized I wanted to have that amazing meal again that I’d had the night before but the only problem is the menu changes each day. So I tried my luck asking the staff if they could just skip the day’s menu and replicate the same from the night prior. The new menu had peanuts (which I don’t eat) and other things that just held no appeal to me. To my delight, they agreed to remake the same meal for me. So I got to enjoy the delicious meal of soup, salad, vegetable phyllo and banana mascarpone tart.

 

I also retired early to my room and enjoyed just sitting on the porch listening to the rain and relaxing. I normally do not retire so early on a trip but in this case, I think I needed it. Besides, what’s the point of solo travel if I can’t do what the hell I want, when I want?! Besides, I clocked in another 4-5 miles walking that day anyway!

My trip to Guatemala would end with a nice evening meal, relaxing in my room (with a fan in hand and bugs less noticeable) and a new sense of appreciation for the country and its uniqueness. Even though I only had two days in Guatemala, it actually felt like a lot longer than that. Maybe it’s the way I travel but to me, a 2-day trip feels full and I left with no regrets. Solo travel is hard sometimes. In that way, it’s sort of like relationships. It can be tough and challenging but you have to keep working at it and working at it to bear the fruits that are more amazing than words can say.

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