Tag Archive: Panajachel








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

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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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The sound of Bob Marley and “We’re Jammin’ ” came drifting through the open door along with the morning sun. The previous night had been punctuated by the bangs & whooshes of fire-crackers and rockets exploding into the late evening air, as the village prepared for Independence Day celebrations over the impending weekend. The rain clouds that seemed to have had a propensity to roll in as afternoon marched on, have thankfully, fallen away to leave the lake bathed in a balmy golden glow.

Lago Atitlán

Lake Atitlán is situated in southern Guatemala Central America with a maximum depth of about 340 metres (1,120 ft)[1] with an average depth of 220 metres (720 ft).[4] Its surface area is 130.1 km2 (50.2 sq mi).[1] It is approximately 18 by 8 km with around 20 km3 of water. Atitlán is technically an endorheic lake, feeding into two nearby rivers rather than draining into the ocean. It is shaped by deep surrounding escarpments and three volcanoes on its southern flank. The lake basin is volcanic in origin, filling an enormous caldera formed by an eruption 84,000 years ago. The culture of the towns and villages surrounding Lake Atitlán is influenced by the Maya people. The lake is about 50 kilometres (31 mi) west-northwest of Antigua.

Night Sky Phenomenon

Appeared from nowhere….and then, just disappeared!

Several nights ago, though still cloudy, the matt and star studded backcloth of the night sky, viewed in my indolent gaze, was interrupted by something, quite…well… astounding. I saw a UFO!…High in the night sky, it had suddenly appeared, and hovered. It was most definitely not a helicopter or a drone. Circular in shape and studded around its edge with orange lights. It remained for about ten minutes, and then, as suddenly as it appeared, it disappeared. It left me bewildered and somewhat stunned.

Passing Ships

Something that granted, I had not been unaware of in the past, but nevertheless has been very noticeable here at Casa Mdera Hostel is, the sheer number and diversity of people that pass through, pass by, and linger. It is perhaps, a function of the length of time one stays in a place that dulls that awareness. However, Canadians, Israelis, Americans, Mexicans, Spanish, Germans, English and of course Guatemalans, all alight here at some time. Here of course, and in this environment, it tends to be people of a more youthful vintage, availing themselves of the bohemian lifestyle, music, artisanat produce, therapeutic offerings and a meditative environment. The conversation inevitably revolves around where one has been, where one is going and recommendations for this hostel or that food etcetera. Not dissimilar to Ubud in Fiji in many ways. A recommendation to try a “Real Ale” bar in Panajachel (about 10klms along the lago/crater rim) brought me into conversation with a retired German surgeon who, after a divorce in his homeland, came out here seven years ago to start a new life. He acquired some land, a new partner, and built himself a property in Jaibalito (a small township along the coast from San Marcos. I spent a delightful couple of hours talking with him over a range of subjects, from life here in Atitlàn, to politics back in Germany and western europe.

Jaibalito, Lago Atitlan

Local Colour

Once joy at discovery of a small, beguiling local environment embeds itself into consciousness, it tends to leech its caché, pretty though it may be. I suppose it is a function of the heat, pace of life and finding interesting things to do, that are much closer at hand. One thinks of a hammock or a nice easy chair, where one can lie/sit back, and ease into a state of torpor and ultimately drift off to sleep. However, today (monday 17.09.18) will be different. Decided to take the ferry over to Panajachel to take a look round. The transfer took 40 minutes and cost 25 Qts (£2.50).

Around Lago Atitlàn perimeter

The volcano perches on the southern rim of the Atitlán caldera, which contains Lake Atitlán. Since the major caldera-forming eruption 85 thousand years ago (ka), three stratovolcanoes—San Pedro, Tolimán, and Atitlán—have formed in and around the caldera. Atitlán is the youngest and most active of the three volcanoes.

Tomorrow, Thursday (20.09.18) will be changing domicile from here at Casa Mdera, San Marcos over the water to Posada Man, San Juan La Laguna.



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