After Antigua, we booked a shuttle to Panajachel, a town alongside Lago de Atitlán.
The lake itself it surrounded by three volcanos, all of them majestic. The town we stayed in (Panajachel) was filled with street vendors and cute comedores. We arrived in Pana in the morning, with empty bellies so our first mission was to find food.
After filling out bellies, we went in search of a place to stay. After turning down a really nice but expensive hotel, we found one we thought would be a good fit. We were wrong. Our room smelled like sewage, no hot water (they said they had it), and it was right next to a chicken coup (roosters crow at all hours of the night). I had been prepared for an experience like that but still. Even their in-house parrot had it in for me. Regardless, it gave us even more reason to be outside and explore the town.
Again, lots of street vendors with beautiful things to sell. The textile market in Guatemala is incredible. There are beautiful fabrics and material all over the place; however, it can be a bit overwhelming. Everyone wants you to buy their things and the constant bombardment of vendors can be draining.
The next morning, we got up early so that I could go on a photowalk while the streets were still quiet and so that Chris could do a workout next to the lake. It’s a complete different place when there aren’t a lot of people. It’s tranquil – almost serene.
The volcanos really do serve as an incredible backdrop. You almost wouldn’t know that they were there, especially if it’s a foggy day. Later that same day, we went on a mountain-bike tour that ran along the lake (hills, towns, fields included). Our tour guide, Rogerio, made the entire ride look easy, while I was sweating and panting like a dog any time we hit an ascent. We went through several towns and were able to witness what non-tourist Guatemala was like.
While recovering from our grueling mountain biking experience, we heard drums outside and (of course) had to investigate. There were two secondary schools holding a parade to celebrate an anniversary of some sort. We just watched them warm up but it was fun seeing the kids enjoy themselves.
The morning before we left Panajachel for Quezaltenango (Xela), we explored the north side of town, which included the church below. Nearby, we found a fantastic coffeeshop called CrossRoads Café. The space was really tiny but it made up for it in atmosphere. (I’m currently drinking coffee that I bought there). It was a nice send-off into our next location.