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Monday, July 5, 2010

Antigua to Atitlan

Volcan Agua from outside Ummagumma standing clear in the morning

We both woke up feeling that we didn't want to stay another night in Ummagumma. For Christine it was the kitchen sink full of curdy water and the single toilet for an entire floor of rooms. For me it was the fact that the bed smelled eerily like the medieval tannery I visited in Rabat in 1984. The smell of too many people and too litlle bed cleaning.

Panorama of mountains to the west of Antigua from the roof of Ummagumma (click to enlarge)

So we arranged for a shuttle bus to pick us up at 1 pm and take us to Panajachel on Lake Atitlan and wnet out for a morning coffee at of all places 'Burger King', then proceeded to the Central Plaza and park to take some pictures of the town and cathedral and some of the people in the park and around the square.

Antigua street scenes

This woman was walking to a doorway where she could set up her wares

The central plaza square

Cathedral de Santiago

The cathedral interior

Women in traditional dress entering the cathedral

Panorama of the park

Of course we were accosted left, right and centre by people trying to sell us jewelry, textiles, flutes, and other nicknacks. I tried to photograph the woman below only to have her pursue us relentlessly to buy a couple of mediochre textiles we didn't want finally cursing us from the Mayan sky gods and throwing the quetzal down on the pavement that I offered her when she demanded 10 for trying to sell us stuff and being photographed in the process.

This woman tried to sell us mediochre textiles for an inflated price
and the called the wrath of God down on us.

We then made it to the daily craft market a few blocks over and discovered she was simply trying to sell stuff at a rip off price before we could get there.

The textile and craft market

Christine is shown huipils from Chichicastenango, San Antonio, Tecpan and other places

Christine engaged with a woman there that spoke good English and had a collection of huipils (embroidered womens blouse tops) from many of the towns and villages of Guatemala for a more reasonable price (although 25% over what others would ask in Panajachel when we were less interested). Eventually Christine bought a particularly nice Tecpan huipil for Q200 about $25 US.

By then it was time to pack and check out and wait for the shuttle bus.

This is the nearest equivalent of a supermarket in Antigua

This is the front of what appeared to be the only store resembling a supermarket in Antigua, a kind of general store looking like a traditional market with a supermarket area hidden deep in the back, which nevertheless did have a reasonable range of stock.

Chimaltenango a wayside town on the road to Atitlan

At about 1.20 the shuttle finally came to pick us up. Fortunately the front seat which is kind of necessary for my leg still wasn't taken although the van was full, but the driver steadfastly refused to tie our luggage on to the roof rack until I had shouted and waved my crutches. The road first ran steeply uphill onto higher country, then got caught in congested towns like Chimaltenango, before continuing as a four lane highway through several high passes in the rolling highlands.

Girls beside the road in traditional dress

Everywhere people, especially the women, continue to wear traditional Guatemalan embroidered clothing, something very refreshing in the face of sweat shop cheap fabrics. Here are some girls just sitting by the road in a way side town.

The four lane road had been severely flooded
and had frequent diversions to the oncoming side

Guatemala has recently suffered a tropical cyclone right after the volcanic eruption and apparently there was a smaller tropical storm a few days ago which had severely disrupted the highway with slips and floods.

Thunder at the end of the afternoon

At le Encuentra we turned off the main road and proceeded down through Solola to Lake Atitlan.

Solola a town on the side road down to Atitlan

The road met the lake in extremely high precipitous cliffs around which the road wound down in stages with the lake and its towns appearing far below.

The road to the lake descends steeply from high precipitous cliff tops

Panajachel, Calle Santander

Finally we arrived in Panajachel 2 and a half hours later and after gathering our bags on our famous trolley found the place we were trying to stay at - Mario's rooms - was right opposite the shuttle stop.
Mario's Rooms, our Guatemalan Shangri-la

Marios had proved to be a wonderful Shangri-la which we are going to be reluctant to leave. The rooms are beautiful, the garden lyrical, the bathroom sparkling, the wi-fi excellent, the location central between the town and lake, and the service splendid. We'll stay here three days before reserving a seat on a shuttle direct to San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas Mexico the day after tomorrow, again avoiding the hassle of a string of chicken buses and a long walk across the border.

The beautiful two storey garden courtyard

1 comment:

  1. It does look beautiful. I'm glad to hear you are taking a rest here, you deserve it.