Saturday, July 24, 2010

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

The lake is gorgeous. Surrounded by three volcanoes, it is regaled as being one of the world's most beautiful. It is also at an elevation of over 5300 ft. Our first night, I woke up to an unusual noise and feeling. What was it? My God, it was my teeth! They were chattering and I was freezing. Tom woke up also. We spent the next 15 minutes trying to find the comforter, which we had had cleaned and packed away after leaving Arizona. We settled for the sleeping bag and finally snuggled up underneath it, went back to sleep. Our first morning (Sunday), we headed into town. We can now see the volcanoes clearly and their reflections in the lake are quite breath taking. The town of Panajachel is small but extremely cosmopolitan. Not too many North Americans but plenty of Europeans, many of whom have settled in this community. The outdoor market is crammed with local craftwork - woven fabrics, leather goods, carpets, wall hangings, ceramic, pottery and a myriad of other items for the tourists. Prices are good but higher than Mexico. We wander for several hours. There is also a surprising number of restaurants offering a variety of cuisines and price ranges. We settle for a French styled restaurant and order onion soup, lobster bisque and an appetizer of Serrano ham. The bisque was the only item that disappointed, so we knew we would try other restaurants in the days to come. We also purchased rain ponchos. The weather has a distinct pattern here. The mornings are fabulous, warm, clear and sunny. The clouds start forming in the early afternoon and the rains will begin anywhere from 4pm onwards throughout the night. This is rain, not showers, complete with thunder and lightening on some occasions. Our mode of transportation from the hotel to town is taxis. These "taxis" are designed for narrow streets. They are a 3 wheel vehicle (one wheel in front and 2 in the rear). The driver sits in front and it takes 2 passengers, if you are a family of 4 that means 2 taxis and the cost is 10 quetzes (about $1.25) per person. They are remarkable little vehicles and quite effective. During our week at the lake, we spent our days wandering the town and surrounding area and visited a Nature Reserve. Winston also had a fun time exploring new territory. We could have spent more time here but we know we want to be in Costa Rica by mid August so after a week decide to head for Antigua.

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