Day 48: Guatemala City - Panajachel (2)
Panajachel Travel Blog› entry 64 of 120 › view all entries
The trip to Panajachel consisted of three gruesome hours in a Chicken Bus. Though it was only 100 kilometres, the bus stopped wherever there was someone raising his or her hand, even when the bus was already full (there is already room for more). We also had to take a big detour as there were protests going on and a large part of the highway had been blocked off. Farmers and students protesting against the government, sounds familiar... (see also Bolivia 1999)
Panajachel is situated at the Lago Atitlán, a stunning lake surrounded by (currently dormant) volcanoes. The lake reminded me of Titicaca in South America, albeit smaller, but equally impressive.
Another name for Panajachel is ‘Gringotenango’ because of the large amount of foreigners in this city. And not tourists, no, foreigners living here. In the sixties this place became some kind of hippie haven (largely thanks to the fertile ground on which certain cultivated plants grow particularly well - and no, I am not talking about coffee), and many of those hippies never left. 36 years of civil war have had a remarkably preserving effect on this hippy culture. These days there is also an influx of American retirees that come to live in Panajachel. Add to that a load of tourists, the Guatemalans and a large community of indigenous Indians, and you have a very interesting mix that creates a very weird but fun atmosphere. The city itself isn’t much to write home about, but the atmosphere was fantastic!
Well, and if you have a good atmosphere and you add to that a blue lake with two volcanoes in the background, a view on the west with a setting sun, and a waterfront terrace serving piña coladas, you might be inclined to feel as if you’re in paradise! (again!)