Climbing out of the Atitlàn caldera

Started out from Lago Atitlàn catching the 08:00 am boat of over to Panajachel to pick up an overland bus. The transfer was to cover 190 klm. to Lanquin in ten hours. The bus climbed slowly out of the huge Atitlàn caldera and on to the agriculturally productive ravine riven foothills of Xeabej. The weather was overcast & C20.Got to Chichicastenango at around 09:35 after lots of hairpin bends got into heavily forested area of Beech and Fir trees. Got into Santa Cruz del Quish at 10:00am. About 2 miles out of town saw a guy pulling a two wheeled pallet truck transporting a fridge  accompanied by a pack of docks, as if it was the most normal thing in the world. The road began to degenerate markedly from here into little more than a pitted track, girded by huge palm fronds and forests. Passed through myriad small villages clinging to mountain sides as the vehicle negotiated and threaded its way along its tortuous track NW.

Now making fairly slow progress as the vehicle picks its way along the mountain tracks avoiding rock falls and washed out sections of the “road.”

One of those moments when one hopes that the driver’s wife hasn’t left him, taking the kids with her. Telling him that she hates him and never wants to see him again. Leaving him, feeling suicidal and wanting to end it all !!!

Perplexing,  how these hill communities survive. Were it not for the traffic picking its way along these ravines, ridges and rough tracks, supplies of basic commodities would be problematic. 

   Gradually the track started a tortuous descent down to the Lanquin river and a welcome forthcoming respite from the stomach churning track. The following morning, one woke to a fine day bathed in the soft morning glow of the rising sun. The river glistened and bubbled along and a group of ducks waddled up to investigate what was happening onshore.

Lanquin high street. Traffic calming measures tend towards being superfluous to requirements, at present.
Rio Lanquin
The jetty landing at The Sun Dog Cafe where one picks up a water taxi. 

There is something magical about a free flowing natural river environment. The air around vibrant, as it sizzles the accumulated night time dew in early morning sunshine. When one breathes it in, it’s like champagne corks going off in ones head. It is fresh and invigorating. Its microclimate is cool & refreshing. The trees provide nature’s perfume. Bird life is prolific and in abundance. At night the sounds are so haunting, disconcerting and just a little threatening, for some of those of an urban persuasion.

Sunday 30.09.18 Left Laquin at 08:30 for a five hour transfer on the “bum bouncer” to The Sun Dog Cafe at the eastern shoreline of Lago Izabal. Hopefully, to be picked up by water taxi for a short 15 minute transfer to Hotel Casa Perico is perched in a mangrove coppice. Our host Jonathan, greeted us and took us along fifty metres of duck boardwalk to show us the room. This was a good size with a large mosquito grilled window which gave out onto the forest beyond. Later I met Paul, a Swiss guy that had built the whole place from scratch, beginning when he had arrived in the area some seventeen years earlier. Having booked two nights, one contemplated perhaps staying longer. However, the arrival of a young family, who were domiciled in the adjacent room swiftly dissuaded us. Noise, travels really well through timber,…..and kids make a lot of noise. 

Hotel on the water

Duck board “highway” to the room
A Loo with a view

A Cruise up El Golfete to Livingston on the Caribbean coast

Monday 01.09.18. Taking advantage of the good weather, decided to take a cruise with the boat that shuttles along El Golfete, calling at various privately owned villas and small hotels along the way to Livingston, on the Caribbean coast. Life on the water is altogether much more languid and denuded of  shore based pressures. 

Tuesday 02.10.18  Lazy start today as the water taxi pick up wasn’t due until 14:00pm. Made it over the water and picked up the overland transport just before a huge deluge, which remained with us for a good portion of the three & a half hour trip north to Casa de Grethel, in Florez. On the outskirts of Florez, was unexpectedly met by a minivan that apparently was a transfer downtown. However, it quickly became evident that this was a choreographed opportunity for a “hard sell” for trips to the Mayan temple complex at Tikal & other “bargain basement priced trips.”!! Once it became clear to the enterprising opportunists that we were not interested. We were quickly marginalised, dismissed and even given a “bum steer” as to where the ferry over to our island accommodation in Lago Peten Itza lay. Self evidently we had returned to the world of, “Cynical Opportunism.” However, after having said all that, I am pleased to say that most Guatemalans are not hewn from the same medium as these chaps. They are by and large helpful, good humoured and a little shy.

Island life, Florez

👋

Hopefully, the next three days will be spent in quiet enjoyment of the lake, its environs & pleasant meals with views from the neo colonial style balcony over the straits, whilst contemplating a trip east to Belize. Now, where did I put that Panama chapeau?

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