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Lago Atitlan - San Pedro la Laguna

Arriving to the lake, boat trip and San Pedro la Laguna. Some words about Aqua Caliente.

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View CENTRAL AMERICA: Guatemala-Honduras-Nicaragua 2005 & ISRAEL - all around on vanessa's travel map.

31/01, early Monday morning, we left Antigua by "colectivo" (shuttle/minibus). The road was busy with lorries and our minibus was a turtle-slow. We entertained ourselves with watching landscapes through the window and Guatemalan landscape is never disappointing.

Finally we arrived PANAJATEL (Pana). Pana is a small town on the Lake Atitlan’s shore.
It’s traffic junction and not much more to say about.
From there we continued by lancha (boat) to another lake-village where planned to stay for a while.

:):):):) LAGO ATITLAN (Lake Atitlan) was created as a result of volcanic activity. It’s recognised as the deepest lake in Central America - about 240m depths. Water is clean and cold. Around the lake there are some volcanoes covered with clouds and about 13 villages where people of Maya still manage after hundreds-years-old-traditions.
The word "atitlan" is a Mayan word that translates as "the place where the rainbow gets its colors".

To tell that Lago Atitlan is beautiful – is tell nothing about.
I put some tiny photos below in hope that it’d illustrate it a bit, but for feeling how fabulous it is – just need be there.

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I loved to wake at sunrise and with cup of flavoring coffee watch how sun is coming from mountains.

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Lancha got us to the opposite side of the lake, to village that called San Pedro.

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SAN PEDRO LA LAGUNA

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:):):) SAN PEDRO is peaceful village that climbing up from the shore.
It's known for it's Spanish schools and hippy communities, variety of sport activities (swimming and kayaking, riding horse, hiking, etc) and mostly for welcoming and relax atmosphere. Village’s location allows good connection (by water) with other lake-villages and great choice of daily-trips around the lake. The village is so simple and so charming that everyone feels there at home.

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"Center" of San Pedro is pretty and alive, there are market, some churches and even kind of "clubbing" is avaliable. “Suburbs” look alike each other poor neighborhood around the world: small and partly destroyed houses, kids playing in the dust and lot of homeless dogs, unfortunately often injured.

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The village is full with wild life: big orange butterflies; friendly dogs; melancholic cows, lying in the dust; turkeys; singing birds, horses and etc. The Lake definatelly plays the biggest role in the life of village.

Most of Spanish Schools are located at the lakeshore. There are lovely combination of studies and living with local families, sharing with them space, food and time. Many muchileros (backpackers) stay there for weeks and for months because of cozy atmosphere and language practicing. Spanish – at least basic skills, is pretty must in this area.
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ACCOMMODATION in San Pedro

We lodged in a small family-run hotel named :):) San Francisco that offered basic and clean rooms, promised mystic aqua caliente and , the most important had a oven for coffee-making in the small yard that spotted on the lake. 35Q (5$)/night/room, 10 mins by feet from/to the dock and 5 from/to another one (there are two docks in San Pedro, serving different destinations)

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San Francisco (hotel)

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AQUA CALIENTE (hot water)

Hot water is an issue for Central America travelers.
Seems natives don’t feel the need in it.
Not being snobbish we found a bit complicated to get cold shower,
in the mountains evenings were pretty chilling.
On this pic below you see Guatemalan “warmer” that supposed to produce aqua caliente (hot water).
The main idea is: 2 (naked) wires enter into the jar – one with “plus” and another with “minus”,
in composition making some electricity. Jar fills with running water and it supposed to come warmer at the exit.

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Well… here are bad news – it doesn’t heat (not to the level that someone could take a shower)
and good news – no one was injured with electricity (at least no known facts).

We found our way to stay clean and survive Spartan conditions
and I have pleasure to share it with those of you who plans Central American budget trip:

:) TIP:
Folks, take a shower a while before evening begins – let’s say 4PM.
Not much chances you’ll get dirty at the evening, and at (sunny) day-time Aqua Caliente is not a big deal!

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FOOD:
Restaurants are such inexpensive, that self-catering is no reasonable. We tried some and chose our best – “Dos Lunas” (Two Moons). Restaurant serves comida coriente (= local food) – plain, but clean & cheap (about a ½ of price from Antigua).
The meal for two cost us 60Q (less then 10$)
Plate of tacos 10Q
Meat (chicken) + rice + pasta 35Q
Goodness lemonade 5Q

:) TIP:
Don’t miss fresh- squeezed orange juice and UNBELIVERABLE BANANA-BREAD! There is variety of home- made delicious “breads” (cakes actually): chocolate bread, coconut bread and others. But nothing to compare to fabulous, aromatic, smooth and heavy banana-bread in big backets that sold by women
:) :) :) :) Banana Pan (Bread) Q5
:) :) :) Local Coffee Q8
:) Tacos and Comida Coriente in "Dos Lunas"

Posted by vanessa 11:00 Archived in Guatemala Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Coffee

dream comes true!

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View CENTRAL AMERICA: Guatemala-Honduras-Nicaragua 2005 & ISRAEL - all around on vanessa's travel map.

(San Pedro Le Laguna)

Cultivation and production of coffee always attracted me very much.
And here, in Guatemala, my dream came true.
Coffee trees grow along the streets;

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coffee beans are collected and processed in every backyard.

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Coffee first drying on the blankets,

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then washed, scrubbed, selected, blanded and roasted - making the long way - until it comes into cap.

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  • Photos below are taken at village coffee-factory,

for better explanation check up this link : http://www.yoppi.com/info/cultivation/

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First lorry brings sacks of coffee to the factory, then it washed (on photo above),
sun dried, and, finally freed from their parchment.

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It’s exciting – to see “hills” of fresh coffee beans on the ground.
At this stage beans are brownish-red outside and gray or pistachio inside.

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They become dark-brown after roasting.
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Posted by vanessa 06:00 Archived in Guatemala Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Lago Atitlan - Santiago Atitlan and San Antonio Palopo.

Santiago Atitlan. Maximon. San Antonio Palopo. TRUST & SAFETY. Useful Info

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At the morning we took a lancha (boat) to Santiago Atitlan – the capital village on the lake, which mostly famous for authentic dress and for lively market. It’s one more attraction there, that a bit weird, – local Saint Maximon (I’ll tell you about it later, keep reading)

SANTIAGO ATITLAN
TRADITIONAL DRESS
The main reason for visiting Santiago Atitlan is the very special wear. It all in red and purple, head is crowned with reddish “pancake” which composed from long (about 10 m) strip bended around the head. It's, so-called, head cinta (xk´ap). Novadays it is only worn by some older women, on special occasions.

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Traditional wear is influenced by fashion (once it’s getting more reddish, then more purple, once flowers getting bigger, then stripped textiles become fashionable, etc) but basically it’s very tight to traditions. Textiles are still hand-made and each village has local “specialty” and differences.

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Santiago is sleepy, but somehow it doesnt feel peaceful. It's dirty; all the central street used as one big market and many-many beggars everywhere - also kids and also adults. Formally, Santiago is a lake capital-town, so, there are all necessary facilities: church, school, bank, market.

The central square on front of church is multipurpose: used as a meeting-point as well the place of rest and communication.

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We spent some time on the market.
Shopping is not my thing, but couldn’t stay away from this colorful fiesta.

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Then we got hungry and begun to search for any eatery. We found one that seemed clean and inexpensive and asked for comida coriente. Soon our food was ready and we eat and chat.

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While we were dining – the little boy, may be 4-5 years old, was passing in the eatery. We didn’t mind it, thinking that he was son of owners – family-running restaurants r the common thing there, and children, sometimes very little ones, help to parents to clean and to serve. We finished to eat but wasnt in hurry to leave, taking the rest. I paid attention that the boy was staying aside and watching us. When I smiled to him - he came closer and asked for rest of meal that we left not eaten – some tortias and rice. It was scratching. He staid around the eatery during the day not because a job or help, it just was a hungry child. He took the food, thanked us and left.

HURRICANE STAN - October 2005

Half of year later, On October 4, 2005, after days of harsh rain from hurricane Stan, there were several landslides that destroyed the canton of Panabaj and did damage in Panaj, causing a disaster where more than 1000 people died. For more info look here : http://www.santiagoatitlan.com/Disaster/disaster1e.html

MAXSIMON

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ABOUT MAXIMON
Maximon is part evil saint, part pagan idol and said to be a combination of San Simón, Judas Iscariot and Pedro de Alvarado, the conquistador. He likes to drink alcohol and smokes cigars and cigarettes. So you are free to offer him a cigarette or a beer or a few Quetzales. There are many theories as to his origin, but over time he has evolved into deity who can cure illnesses and also bring misfortune to his enemies and is considered sacred and to be taken seriously despite his bizarre appearance to most visitors.

Maximon stays in someone’s home for a year. And every year during Samana Santa (Easter week) there is a big procession, and then he changes location. You shouldn't have a problem finding Maximom as there are plenty of children who want to show you the house where he resides for a Quetzal or so (US .15 cents). As bizarre as this may sound, it is an undeniably, intriguing exercise in respecting local traditions.

HOW WE VISITED MAXIMON
Santiago was colorful but something there felt sad, like the fiesta was artificial – probably it really was.
We were in need to sweet the day - to see or to do something really special. Mysterious and odious Maximon responded to our need better then anything else.
So we did.

Maximon every year settled in another house, and his address was not a secret for natives; but, traditionally, guiding tourists to Maximon’s house is children-business. It paid with Quetzal and both sides r happy with it. We wanted to do it this way too, but big group of children arrived there. They loudly proposed their service and crowd became bigger with each minute. Scared out with their activity we refused and decided to manage it alone. People pointed us the direction and we walk down the street. Some time children run next to us, but then lost the interest and left us alone. Asked couple of more times in the way, we stopped near gloomy building, looked more alike warehouse then house. Door was open and entrance was covered with cloth. Insecure, we stopped near, not sure if we need to knock or what. Short intoxicated Maya-man appeared from the house and we asked him if we could see Maximon, pls. “Sí, dos Quetzal”- he accepted. We paid and stepped into dark room.

It seemed fresh air never penetrated here. Room was pretty big, decorated with drying plants and it was only need to add drying frogs or head of dead crocodile for better impression. It was so smoky and dusky that we stopped at the entrance for better orientation.

3 indigenes set around the table in the center of room. They were into deep discussion composed with drinking and smoking. They invited us to enter inside. Right near the door we could see big glass box, looking alike the coffin, and big wooden Jesus was lying inside. We were a bit surprised, but being polite, stopped near – to give respect to this “sight”. One of indigene-man spotted to another corner of the dark room. We obediently toddled there. Opposite wall was so fully-stuffed with various objects that not supposed to use for decoration, that it took a while to find Maximon there. Wooden doll of Maximon, all hooked with ties, was sitting on the bench. With bold cigar in his mouth, Maximon kept same indifferent face-impression alike all local men did. We staid a little more to watch the doll. Weird voices came from stomach of the house – it sounded at least like a wizard’s pry or may be something even worse then it. I was dying from curiosity and almost stepped into, but brainy Andre stopped me. He said later that it was nothing mysteries, but somebody ill or drunk suffered there, but I still feel that I missed something very special to join to.

We got out the door with some doubt if we were stuffed or weren’t’, and before we changed a word, we were heartly greeted by very slim lady. She was all shining with toothless smiles and, gesticulating, she let us to understand how much she was happy about our smartness and understanding regards of visiting Maximon. We smiled her back “sure, sure” and then something else begun…

She proposed us to buy some crafts that she was keeping with her but we politely rejected – we already spent on the market much more then we planned this day.
Then she concerned where are we going now, and as we were going down to the dock, she volunteered to accompany us.
We were at least 20 years younger (or did it just look alike?), but we breathed hard from fast walk, and walked faster and faster, trying to escape her intensive attention. At each step that we did, she was doing 5, circulating around us, running forward and returning back, constantly proposing to buy some stuff. It was insane run downhill through kitchens, yards and fields of residents. Faster we run - Faster she circulated. With continuous moving around she didn’t stop even for a while her cheerful socializing , she first recognized a boat near the dock and suggested us to run faster, cause the boat could leave earlier if it full. She was so right – we just jump on the boat and it left immediately. The schedule just pretended to be true, the real life managed after “left leg wishes”, not anything else.

We were so happy that we caught the boat! It was definitely enough of Santiago.
We planned to path in San Antonio Palopo – for their beautiful, extraordinaire-blue textile.

SAN ANTONIO PALOPO
After short trip the boat arrived San Antonio Palopo - tiny village that has nothing to attract tourists, except of incredible blue textile that they producing and wearing. We asked at the dock when the last boat’s departure and, securely and stress-free about “ enough time to look around”, we left the boat.
Near the dock we met 2 local women with textile for sale in their hands – they were waiting for the boat. One was round-faced and a bit shy and the second was more communicative. They show us their products and it was beautiful. The only problem was that we wanted double size of cover and they didn’t have it there.
They explained that they have more samples in the factory and invited us to come with them and to choose ourselves.

Right after the dock the street climbed up almost vertical, squeezing between small houses and little gardens. Women stepped easily, like it was flat. One more time we admitted natural fitness of Atitlan citizens. Well, there is no choice, if you live on the mountain – you will not survive if you are not fit enough.
Soon we reached the place. Talkative woman opened the door in the wooden fence and we stepped into little yard. There were turkeys and dog, nothing else. For a second I had a sting if we were right coming with them alone – media was full with horror-stories about tourists, kidnapped in Latin America. But ladies welcoming smiled and then they opened the door into house that seemed store. Dark room inside lighted with sun and we have seen blue hills of textile on the ground. They begun to pull it out and collect in the yard. There were everything that u could and could not imagine: shirts and pans, decoration for hair and house-decoration, cloth, covers, strips, bags – all was designed from blue-blue fabric. Wow.. My eyes jumped out. It was Ali-Baba’s treasure!

We searched for size and pattern that we needed, but it was not. Instead of it we found the second identical piece of ½ of size. Women suggested to connect it (very fast, don’t worry) and to make 1 from two. They both set on the ground and really fast connected both pieces of cover.

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Meantime they were working we chatted and watch around. It was ordinary village house, kept very clean. This “factory” was a family-business and ladies were sisters in law. They both were very nice and we enjoyed this short contact, I think so they were. Soon the work was done and we could leave them. I liked very much the strip that was keeping head-cover of round-faced mate and she gave it to me.
“Give it to your mother”- she asked.
“I will!”

We thanked again, said good-bye and dropped downhill to the lake.
From the hill we could see the dock and the boat. It looked sleepy – no movement around.
We rushed down to catch this boat – we knew that it was the last one for this day.
The Capitan promised to wait for us, so we didn’t worry that much.
But probably we staid there too long, or, for any another reason he decided to leave.
We have seen from the hill our boat leaving without us - first slowly getting back, then turning and slipping on the peaceful waters of Lago Atitlan.

Oh, horror!!!
We missed the boat!
We have been said that there are ONLY water-transportation to/from this village, so we have some reason for little panic. We should to ask for help. But from whom?
After little research we found a Police Station. The policemen listened to us, nodded and pointed to the lorry parking near Police Station.
We didn’t wait for additional invitation and fast climbed into it, feeling safe. We just set down and lorry filled with people. There were: young family with two kids; workers, who returned home from work and Policemen themselves. It was a good company and we had much fun in the way to Pana, all the way chatting and laughing.

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Car went to Panajatel , that meant to make a big curve in opposite (from home) direction, around the lake; but still getting closer somehow. Panajatel is the most central junction in the lake traffic and there were more chances to take a boat to San Pedro.

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When lancha[i] left [i]Panajatel in direction of San Pedro - it was already late afternoon. With darkness weather became windy and boat was pounding into angry waves. Water was washing the passengers – we didn’t care too much as we both good swimmers, and only cared to keep the camera dry.

TRUST and SAFETY

...Our adventure was not yet finished with arriving San Pedro.
We passed in local internet café for a while, sent emails home and ... we left there our camera!
We discovered the lost about two and half hours later, when finally reached home after lunch in Dos Lunas. Camera was not only new ( just bought it before the trip) and The Only Expensive Item that we owned and cared about, but there was all the stock of Guatemalan photos - lost of it was real disaster.

Shocked, we run back to internet-café as fast as we could.
San Pedro village is lying on the hill; streets are going up or/and down, nothing is horizontal there.
I guess our sprint looked odd there – no one is hurry in lake villages, but we didn’t care and just prayed that internet-café still will be open. Honestly – we didn’t hope that much that camera still safe there.
Too much traffic in cyber-cafe, plus, Guatemala is such poor place – people work there extremely hard for their bread. Cost of our camera was enough to cover some months of family expenses.

Guess what happened then? Internet Café was still opened and full.
Our camera was found and saved there. Owner of the place left but girl, who switched him there, knew about camera and at the moment we asked about – gave it to us with smile.
Gosh… you can’t imagine HOW thankful we were!
I think this incident no need much comments, it speaks itself.

I was often asked if Central America is safe place, and I always state that I felt there safer then ever. It’s not just feels good – it’s serenity, it’s about trust and much sympathy to these straight-minded people.

>>> USEFUL INFO:

SELF-CATERING:

Basic shopping for breakfast for 2 ppl cost us Q54
Bread, cheese, pocket of coffee, Orange Juice Q21 and Mineral Water Q3,5

TRANSPORTATION:

Boat from San Pedro to Santiago Atitlan leaves each hour, 25 min in the way. Cost Q15

  • Did i already mention this? I lo-o-o-ove these people!

Posted by vanessa 13:00 Archived in Guatemala Tagged boating Comments (0)

Lago Atitlan - San Marcos, Tzununa and Jaibalito

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First of all hiking around Lago de Atitlán is strictly not recommended, known as extremely unsafe. Second - it’s out off beaten path: there are isolated villages that have neither roads nor transportation there and they still speak the traditional Mayan Katchikel language, ignoring Spanish and other ways of communication. It sounded us enough attractive and reasonable to visit both:Tzununa and Jailbalito.

Original plan was to come to San Marcos by lancha and then, stopping at Tzununa and Jaibalito, reach Santa Cruz, where from get a boat home. So we did…

SAN MARCOS
1st part of plan was going predictable and at 9AM we stepped on San Marcos’s dock. San Marcos is known as spiritual/shanty place, that serves (tourists) with all kinds of workshops, meditations, massages and natural and healthy lifestyle. But behind all this marketial bullshit hidden peaceful San Marcos village, with sunny and empty streets. We admired its quiet beauty and natural sweetness; then have bought some water and cute petite (10cm, not more) bananas and continued our way.

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Village’s periphery was all- rural and little huts were lost in corn-fields.

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Sometimes we met kids or dogs, seldom farmers. This part of way was lovely and easy to walk -
it remembered us The Road Of Yellow Brick from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Alike The Road Of Yellow Brick from the book, our road changed - from wide and comfortable it became narrow and sharp; with every moment getting more and more complex.
I lost my sunglasses.
We finished our water-stock (we hoped to buy more in the next stop) and we felt pretty tired.

At one of curves we met adult indigene woman and her coyote-style dog. They walked in the same direction and joined us. Woman was very slim, smiley, toothless and extremely friendly. She stepped easily, like it was not a mountain pathway, but alley in park and all the way entertained us with stories in Spanish.

Last kilometers before Tzununa became really harsh, but we were OK, thanks to reproduction of adrenalin and “high” from height and breathtaking beauty of Atitlan.

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Near Tzununa old lady heartily departed from us – her son was waiting for her on the road.
They left down to the direction of the lake, and we continued forward to Tzununa “center”.

TZUNUNA

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Tzununa, Tzununa..
So, what was so special in this Tzununa that we killed ourselves hiking there?
It’s really isolated. And they really don’t speak any language except of Katchikel and not interested in any type of communication. Streets are dirty and absolutely vertical. Houses built from mud. Very poor and anxious place. Big group of barefoot kids followed us everywhere with demand of money “ Quetzaaal, Quetzaaal, Quetzaaal…” from the moment they have seen us (white people!) in the village – to the moment we left.
Life there seems so difficult, nasty and unhappy that it’s hard to understand how natives could survive it there.

I came there after blissful complements (of other travelers) to uniqueness of this place.
Oh, man... this “uniqueness” comes from poorness - it’s absolutely nothing sweet in their everyday suffer, it’s nothing to be proud about and they don’t. These people fight to survive; they don’t object civilization – they just don’t have any little chance to live better. They need support badly, but they don’t need slobbery excitement of visitors.
Sorry for being rude. It just pains.

Tired, we took a rest on the bench near the church and left Tzununa a while later.

IN THE WAY
- from Tzununa to Jaibalito-

At the beginning, the road passed between banana-plantations and fruit trees with lonely bungalows between the trees. Then plantation finished and road became a path.
Narrow path climbed up keeping tight to the mountainside at the left hand, and at the right hand far-far down sparkled fabulous lake Atitlan.

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This little figure on the path is Andre, and i'm following him.

Soon we met group of women with firewood.

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Slim and little , these women caressing huge woods on their heads, often also keeping the baby on the back. They disliked photography, but I couldn’t miss this shot. Sorry ladies.. sorry.. Normally I did my best don’t photograph without permission; even spontaneous pictures are always better then posing. For indigene photography is serious mess – some of them believe that it “takes” their lives.

We used to think that road in the way to Tzununa was hard, but it was nothing to compare to the part between Tzununa and Jaibalito. There it became already not a road, but rocky path, and this path kept constantly climbing up, sometimes getting almost vertical and sometimes too narrow even for one walker. The day was sunny, hot and feels not enough oxygen.

We walked and stopped to balance the heartbeat and walked again and then stopped again… Probably it was smarter to return, but going back is not in our rules, and also we expected that way forward will be shorter then way we already did. (We were naïve!) However - breathtaking views, which appeared after each turn, compensated the effort.

Man, caressing sack on his back, caught us up. The sack was looped with wide belt, and another side of the loop rounded his forehead. His face was tense from the effort. We let him get ahead and he thanked with head-nod, passed near and disappeared after the rock.

We kept walking and wowing.
We were not hungry, but luck of water became bothering.

Soon in trembling air appeared a schoolboy. He was marching up easily, seems no effort at all. Little boy, caressing his folder under arm, alone on rocky path in mountains, the middle of nothing - far from any settlement or people – it just seemed like mirage!
But it was a real boy who run home (where?) from the school …
He reached us, slowed down and staid beside. He was unprepared to meeting with strangers and felt insecure about both: to outstrip or ran away. We smiled to him, trying to make him feeling better, and moved aside of the pathway – giving him to pass safely. Boy past us and hopped up with the pathway. Logically decided that appearance of the child means that the village should be near as well, we cheered up.

Our hopes to arrive settlement in short time came true, but partly. Very soon we reached the ramp, cut and reclined from the mountain. There was settled with a carpentry workshop. Seeing us, carpenters stopped work and turned to our direction. They were dark-faced serious indigene men, who were there for job, not for silly adventure. We greeted them and asked about the direction. The road forked later and we asked which one to get for Jaibalito. They pointed to the right road and returned to work. We continued our way with new hope that village is near (Workshop supposed to be not far from the village, isn’t it?)

The pathway was bending after shape of mountain, sometimes rolling down and sometimes climbing. Lake constantly laid on the right hand and rock-wall was at the left. Rock-side was fried with sun and puffed with wind.

BURNING CORNFIELD

At this part the tiny strip run along the vertical wall, and it was so narrow that we could continue only while keeping very tight to the rock. The lake sparkled far-far down. Somewhere mountainside was cultivated; these surrealistic vertical fields on barren land describe life of Guatemalan farmers better then thousands words. It was nothing around except of burning sun and chunky heat between corn stems. And then, one of the fields was burned, still with leaks of flame on the black ground. Narrow path slipped between burning vertical cornfield at the left and a chasmal fall from right. Don’t ask me how we passed there. We did.

Sweating, thirsty and tired, we were happy to see a small grove on the way. Trees gave some shadow and it was great! In the grove we met a “Big Bad Wolf” – alike it happen in fairytales, - huge black dog staid on the road, enjoying combination of shade and breeze. We had a talk with him, worried about his loneless. Dog was loyal, but indifferent and not communicative. We seemed not enough attractive, as we have neither water nor food to entertain him. So, we saluted and continued to walk…

JAIBALITO

Not so soon as it came in dreams, but finally we arrived Jaibalito!
We didn’t expect blissful reception, but definitely hoped to take a rest in shadow and to refill our water stock. Oh, well.. and to see the reason why we kept walking there all the day! – Hidden jewelry, out-of-bitten-path authentic indigene village. Yeaa.. it was kind of. Extremely poor and miserable, village appeared in its natural way – non-asphalted streets, houses erected from mud. There was a girl, about 4 or 5 years old herself, who kept house and cared to her baby-brothers while adults were out. She was accurately sweeping the land outdoor with scrawny broom, when her baby-sister appeared in the door with huge machete in her hands.

BANANA PLANTATION

Village ended. Our water was finished too.
We didn’t have another choice but to keep walking.

We really enjoyed when arrived banana plantation. It was shady and big plantation and presence of cultivation was visible there. The road got wider, but it bounded plantation from the left, was sunburned and begun ascendant again. There appeared the smaller way, which run into plantation and dropped a bit down, in the direction of the lake. Andre walked first and I followed him, I proposed to him to go through plantation and was sure he heard. As it was proved later – he didn’t.

Here we separated. I was too tired for argument “which way is better” and seems he assumed that upper way was right to continue with. At the beginning roads run parallel and I could see him via banana-leaves. Then my path got slimmer and some down, and his path kept going a bit up… saying short – we lost each other. When I recognized that I didn’t see him anymore I tried to call him, but he didn’t answer. He turned back and didn’t see me on the road. Waited for a while. Called me, and as it was no answer – he returned back to find me there. Meantime my road was constantly dropping down between bananas until I have seen people who were working there. I did success to explain that I need the “main road” to the lake (nobody speaks English there) and they told me to return back. … damn… it was walking up again. And it was clear that we were lost… and no water and my feet “has gone” – couldn’t feel them already. Hah… also no money, no ID - only camera was with me. Perfectly silly, isn’t it?

I passed almost ½ of way back, trying to cut shorter way between bananas instead of keeping with path, that also was stupid as it made my chances to meet Andre even less. I understood that he was searching for me and hoped to get on the main road-path as fast as possible. Actually, I was in better position, at least I knew what happen when we separated. But he did not have any idea where I was and what was going on and had all rights for stress.

Relax, relax… he found me in banana plantation and caught my hand. The family was re-unionrd and we still stay together. Now, I think you r tired enough just from reading this, so, I’ll make the story shorter saying the continue just briefly:

Then we walked, walked and walked.
Plantation finished.
There were some lonely houses up on hill – we didn’t go there.

MIRACLE

Here a miracle happened! In the grass, just near the road, we found 0,5l plastic bottle of water. It was ballooned being under sun, but it was firmly closed, new bottle. The water inside was ok. We were saved!

Then we passed “La Casa del Mundo” hotel that just amazing and recommended for everyone who likes special places. I’ll not advertise it here, but it’s very impressive, just take a look online http://lacasadelmundo.com/

Then down-down-downhill… to the lake. To the boat-stop, to wait there, to get a ride with a boat. To reach home soon.

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sooo sooo soooooooo tired!

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happy to return home (orange juice in San Pedro)

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CALCULATION:
Total : Q266 = 35US$
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Transport: (boat) (Q15 x 2) x 2 directions = Q60
Food: water - Q12, Fruits - Q12, meal (restaurant) - Q65
Others: (shopping, etc) - Q94
Internet: - Q7
Accomodation for 3 nights: - Q105

Posted by vanessa 13:00 Archived in Guatemala Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Market day in Chi-Chi

Chichicastenango or Chi-Chi - famous Guatemalian and Central American market

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View CENTRAL AMERICA: Guatemala-Honduras-Nicaragua 2005 & ISRAEL - all around on vanessa's travel map.

Thursday

MORNING
Our last morning in San Pedro, Lake Atitlan
The weather was windy and sunrise came all reddish and orange.
Rucksacks were packed for advance and we have time to drink coffee.
It was a little sad to leave this beautiful place.

When travel – you meet so many different people, and these short relations are remarkable.
There are kaleidoscope of faces and episodes:
- Friendly woman who sold banana-bread in “downtown”;
- Owner of our hotel, who liked my red sweater so much that wanted to buy it from me (unfortunately I couldn’t give it, cuz I had limited equipment and the trip just begun...)
- Guy from Internet Café who saved my camera – he spoke some English;
- In San Francisco hotel we met Finnish woman, in her 40th, who was traveling alone. Before she went – she left the work, sold house and everything she had in Finland. At the moment we met her - she was in the way about 4 months already.
- & toothless lady who accompanied us, running downhill in Santiago Atitlan.
- Another woman – this one, with dog, that we met in our “extreme” day in the way to Tsununa.

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I loved trip in lorry – when we missed the last boat, it was so much fun!

- We have been lost in banana plantation…
- We found the bottle of water…

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the best of the best - fresh-squized orange juice

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smiles, smiles, smiles!

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... and serious faces too

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Vertical cornfields on the slope;

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Every single day marvelous sunrise on the magic Lago Atitlan

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Coffee bushes right on the street

Well, here we were leaving.
Windy, and lancha was dancing in waves, spraying around fountains of water.
We set under tent, but it didn’t help much.

In Pana we reject pricey direct shuttle (minibus) and searching for regular bus – to go to Chi-Chi.
Chi-Chi (Chichicastenango) is a little town, that famous for it’s market. Chi-Chi market is known as the most colorful and juicy market in Central America. It’s one of “must to see” places in this region. As market works only twice a week - Sundays and Thursdays, we should plan another places after its schedule.

Pretty soon we found empty chicken-bus parking aside the road and bored driver inside.
He explained us that there was no direct bus to Chi-chi , but he would be leaving soon to Los Qusienos, where we could change to another bus – to Chi-chi. So we did. We joined lonely bus-driver, and we were already 3 of us in the bus.

I have to note, that all these conversations were multilingual: we continued to speak English (that most of Guatemalans didn’t know), and natives spoke Spanish, that we didn’t know. Something else to add here: Guatemalans communicate without any pantomime or gesticulation. When they r talking to you - no-one muscle is moving on their faces, and they never waving with hands or head. Polite, friendly and calm, they always were helpful and gave us detailed description in Spanish. Actually, we understood each other pretty well, even speaking different languages. It was not only primitive talk:“how to reach” or “how much it costs”, but we success to manage conversations.

MARKET DAY IN CHI_CHI
At 11AM we already reached Chi-chi
We left our luggage (for free!) in reception of beautiful and pricey hotel (hotel “for white tourists”) and went to discover the market!

Patio of the hotel
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in the Patio were colored parrots and musician played on marimba
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Ahhh, it was so beautiful, so crowded, so vivid, so adorable!
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Most of market taken for crafts, and in Chi-chi you’d find all kind of crafts that producted in the area and, probably in whole Guatemala - endless variety, just shopping paradise.

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Short alley with flowers at the entrance and small area et the end used as a food-market.
Then we arrived into smoky cloud – it was cooking area.

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Huge pots were boiling on open fire,
near women made tortillas,
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Food smelled good. Slim white guy, that eat his lunch with appetite, said he was satisfied with food.
We had a lunch – comida coriente, as usual: chicken breast, boiled in the deep oil, rice, some beans, tortillas and cup of terrifically sweetened coffee from the pot.

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The pleasure cost us Q30 (for both), we felt full and glad.

Chi-Chi market is really beautiful. I took as much photos as I could.
There are smooth concentrate of Guatemalan culture - Mayan ppl from different areas came there to sell and to buy.
Adults and kids in their colorful dress: men with machetes in their hands, wearing high hats and patterned pants (sometimes skirts), women’s huipils (traditional square-cut blouse) and head-bands - Maya traje (traditional costume) is village-specific or language-group related.

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Some people where sleeping on the steps of the church.

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kid's pantalones

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X-mas tree from Textil

Everything was interesting, but people were the most remarkable subject for photo.
Taking their (people) pictures – not welcomed at all, and often simple impossible.
I didn’t want to be rude and missed many good shots. Until now I feel sad about it.
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Calculation:
Hotel Q 40
Transportation: boat Q 40
buses 10+8+24= Q 82
Food: 30+36= Q 66
Shopping: textile 100+70+75(bag) = Q 310
Souvenirs (stone + dolls + turtles) Q50 + Q15 (musical)
Total: Q507 = Q197 + Q310 (shopping)
$66 = $26 + $40 (shopping)

Transportation (detailed)
9AM boat from San Pedro de Atitlan > to Pana
10AM bus from Pana > to Loc Qusientos > then another bus to Chi-Chi
11AM – 14PM Chichicastenango (Chi-Chi)
14PM bus from Chi-Chi > to Santa Cruze de Quiche, arriving at 15PM
15:30PM bus > to Nebaj via: St. Margarita > Rio El Naranho > La Estanzuela> Rancho de Teja > Xetabal > 16:30PM Sacapulas> to Nebaj
arrived Nebaj at 18:00

Posted by vanessa 03:29 Archived in Guatemala Tagged shopping Comments (0)

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