Lake of the Gods
San Pedro Travel Blog› entry 120 of 134 › view all entries
I decided to take the long winding journey between Antigua and Lake Atitlan on the shuttle bus. This is only marginally better than a chicken bus. It's expensive for this country and cramped in a way only Latinos find appropriate, but it's door to door and secure, which is a key concern in this country. With my knees tucked firmly under my chin and my bum squeezed into an impossible angle, I endured an 8 hour bus journey across the country.
Few places have the impact that Lake Atitlan does. I forgot all discomfort and simply bawlked in amazement at this place. The lake is huge and surrounded by mountains. It's a resting place for the gods and made all the more magnificent by the hazy clouds that waft across it.
I finally arrived at San Pedro. It's one of the more touristy places around the lake with restuarants, shops and bars. However, it never seems to lose it's charm and allure, it couldn't with the views of the lakes it commands. After departing the bus I was led through a maze of alleyways that would soon become familiar but at that time were a dusky confusion. Arriving I checked into Yo Mamma with some of the guys from the bus. It was a seemingly friendly cosy kind of place and there was a good group of people around. That night I ventured out into "town" to find the market alive with people, food stalls, Guate style amuseuement arcades and children playing.
That night my hostel turned into the sick ward. The noises, cries, screams and coughs were enough to drive a girl mad. Sleep was a mere dream. Nothing like trying to drift off to the sound of someone hacking their lungs up. Yuk.
The following morning I awoke to a gloroious day and took the chance to walk the streets in the relative hush to take in the new surroundings. It's one of the most beautiful places I've been on my trip, it's spellbinding. I wandered the streets which woudl soon become really familiar to take as many photos as possible, some capture the essence of the place but it's impossible to do this place justice on camera.
I was back at the hostel by 8 and made friends with some survivors of the sick ward. Stan, Omid, Aaryon and Martle and i decided to take up the challenge of hiking to the Devils Nose, a well known hike in the area. It seems a long way from San Pedro but is more than do-able in a few hours. We scoured the town for a guide and found one for 100Q and set off like new age conquistadors looking for adventure.
We hiked through little pueblitos and villages looking at the festivties before ascending and we literally huffed and puffed our way to the top for 4 hours. It was worth every ounce of sweat though as the view was spectacular and a just reward. The only trouble was that the clouds rolled in too quickly and we lost the view and then had to hike back in the rain.
I checked out of Yo Mammas aka Sick Ward and got a dorm bed at Zoola which is a beautiful hostel but the dorm rooms aren't very practical - no where to hang anything or store anything so there was stuff everywhere. But the people were great and I quickly made friends with Rob, Nati and Hanoch who were dorm mates. They managed to somehow convince me to do the morning hike with them back to the Devils Nose and I figured, when in Lake Atitlan!
That night I took advantage of another local tradition - the hot thermals! They have spas all around the lake and several in San Pedro which for a measley 25Q (£2) you can spend a few hours in your own personal thermal bath.
Next morning an early BOKER TOV! at 03:45 (I thought this was meant to be a holiday?!) and we were on the bus to the top of the Devils Nose where we hiked for the last 45 mins. Now that is much easier! The morning view was amazing and I struggled to not take photos and just soak up the place, it's stunning. I learnt the Israeli Army fixation on dashie (!) and enjoyed hot tea, porridge and cake at the top of the peak courtesy of Nati and Hanoch who had hiked with all the cooking utensils!
Off to San Marcos Tomorrow and Panachajal the day after to get a flavour of other parts of the lake - I can't wait!