Lago de Atitlán, Guatemala, Pt. 1: Departure From Panajanchel

This past weekend I returned to Lago de Atitlán, where a month ago I spent much of my first week in Guatemala. The lake is a two- or three-hour bus ride from here in Antigua at a cost of only $5.00 one way. This time I traveled there with Julia, a fellow student at Sevilla Spanish Academy.

The deepest lake in Central America, Lago de Atitlán was formed after a volcanic explosion so gigantic, its tephra (i.e., air-fall material) has been traced as far away as Florida to the north and Ecuador to the south.

Today there are three volcanoes that tower over the southern coastline of the lake, along with steep cliffs that surround the lake from all sides. There are also numerous Mayan villages where indigenous languages are still spoken and age-old traditions still followed, particularly in terms of dress.

Gringo-fied settlements line the docks of these villages, particularly San Pedro, San Marcos, and Santa Cruz — the three villages we visited over the course of the weekend.

This first picture was taken at the dock in Panajanchel, the touristy town that is the gateway to the lake.

At the dock we found a lancha (i.e., a water taxi) and headed toward San Pedro, where we planned to stay for the weekend. We each paid 25 quetzales — about $3.50 — for the ride, which took about 20 minutes.

Here are a couple brief videos taken with Julia’s camera. Note how bumpy the ride is. Makes it more exciting, I think, though those prone to motion sickness might feel otherwise.

On the way to San Pedro, we stopped at the village of Santiago Atitlán to switch boats. This second boat was much smaller and didn’t have a roof — it was more of a fishing boat than a lancha, unfortunately — so we ended up getting fairly soaked.

In the photo and video below, you can see us hiding from the water splashing up into the boat. Though I was a little scared for my backpack, in which I had my iPod and other valuables, it made for some good laughs and added an extra thrill to an otherwise awesome weekend.


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