(For those of you who “follow” our blog, please be sure to read the updated version of the Guatemala Trip – Part 1. While imputing the photographs, Eddie accidentally published before we were finished with the post.)
The prearranged shuttle picked us up mid-day at Casa Encantada in Antigua. The drive to the village of Panajachel (called Pana by the locals) on Lake Atitlan is usually a 2-1/2 to 3 hour ride. Since we had eaten a late breakfast, we figured we could have a late lunch in Panajachel. Unfortunately, the drive was almost 5 hours long! We ended up in a horrible traffic jam that we learned later was caused by a major demonstration by government employees who were rallying for more pay. We were a little anxious that we would miss the last boat to our hotel as well as dinner, which is served at 6:30 p.m. It would be rough going to miss both lunch and dinner!
Once we were past the demonstration, our shuttle driver drove like a maniac and we managed to get to the launch before the last boat. But then, we had to wait for the boat to have more than just a couple of passengers and that was a 15 minute wait. The boat ride to our hotel, La Casa del Mundo was about 15 to 20 minutes. We just barely arrived in time to clean up a bit before dinner, but at least we made it. The family style venue was a lot of fun. We met people from all over the world.
La Casa del Mundo is a beautiful hotel that was built into the steep rocky cliffs that surround Lake Atitlan.
It has a gorgeous view of three volcanoes across the lake. This is not the place for someone with physical limitations as there is no elevator. It was quite a hike to our room as we were almost at the top of the property. It was 55 steps from the main lobby/dining area and probably 100 steps from the dock. They were steep steps, too. We really got a workout staying there!
The next morning, we took the boat back to Panajachel to do some shopping. We were told that Panajachel has the best prices of all the little villages around the lake. Along with many small stall shops, there are individuals hawking their wares in the middle of the street. The individuals, many who are young children or older women, are very hard sellers. They really hound you. If you look at one person’s wares, then several more come over trying to compete against each other. We bought most of our things from the stall vendors. We found a shop with gorgeous woven fabric for a large bedspread and another shop with colorful pottery. Due to the luggage weight limit, I had to restrain myself from buy too much.
We ended up back at the hotel for a late lunch and then realized that we didn’t have enough time to visit another village on the lake. The small boats run every half hour to an hour depending on where you are picked up and your destination. So, after lunch, we climbed up to the top of the hotel property to walk along the ridge toward a village called Santa Cruz, which is a strenuous 45 minute walk. We didn’t walk all the way there, but close to it. Then, we turned around and headed the other direction toward the smaller village called El Jaibalito, which is just a 10 to 15 minute walk from the hotel.
The next day we decided to take the small boat to a village called San Pedro. It took us over an hour to get there as we had to stop at several docks along the way. We were rather disappointed with this place. There really wasn’t much there and being a Sunday most shops were closed. We did find a nice place for lunch right by the water. The boat ride back was very rough due to high winds. We thought we were going to bounce out into the lake!
That afternoon Eddie and I celebrated our anniversary with a bottle of champagne that we bought at the Duty Free shop. The hotel kindly chilled it in their bar refrigerator for us. Then after dinner, we had a nice soak in the hot tub, which is wood fired and takes about 5 hours to heat up. It was the perfect way to end the day!
On Monday we needed to be in Panajachel by mid-day to meet our shuttle to drive us to Guatemala City for our last night. We had to switch shuttles in Antigua, but didn’t have to wait long. The entire trip took about 3 hours, but it usually takes closer to 4 hours. This shuttle driver took the back way to Antigua through the countryside and that seemed to be much quicker. We found great restaurant within walking distance of our hotel in Guatemala City. The food was fabulous here, too!