Moving on in unplanned territory.

Panajachel Travel Blog

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The Lake Atitlan waterfront at Panajachel looking east.
Hello all,
Today I woke upfeeling a bit better.  The medicine I bought a few days ago has run out, and I attribute none of my minor recovery to those pills.  The shuttle to take me to Panajachel wasn't scheduled to pick me up until 1pm, so I relaxed all morning before heading out at about 11am for some lunch.  I hadn't really thought about it, but most restaurants were not open because it was Sunday.  I moved on towards the Parque Central looking for something that looked good until I came upon Pollo Campero.

Pollo Campero is the Guatemalan fast food chicken chain, and in my 3 days here I had never even noticed that there was a location right next to the square.  Upon further checking online there are locations in the US, Indonesia, China, and Spain as well as throughout Latin America.
The Lake Atitlan waterfront at Panajachel looking east.
 The big difference at Pollo Campero is that they have waiters and table service.  I got a chicken sandwich, fries and a coke, and it tasted just like any american fast food chicken sandwich.  Not bad and cheap too.

The shuttle was almost 30 minutes late, and when it got there it was already pretty full.  The van had room for 15 including the driver, and after I got in there was only room for two more people.  That meant I got one of the rinky-dink fold out seats that allows people to get all the way to the back row.  I also quickly realized that the van had no air conditioning, and I was the only non-middle seat person without access to an opening window.

On the plus side there was enough room for my backpack between my legs without any trouble, so there was no need to throw it on top of the van.
Volcan Atitlan across the Lake Atitlan from Panajachel.
 We then picked up two other guys, and they got the pleasure of riding in the other two jump seats.  We all set off for Panajachel with the windows down.  There was a nice breeze and things were fine.  And then the rain came.

The roads were of pretty good quality, and we were certainly still in the highlands.  The ride was interesting, but the van was not blessed with alot of power.  So everytime we got to a slight upward incline we would slow to a crawl.  And the harder the rain came down, the more the windows started to slide shut, until the point they were all shut and things started to stagnate in the van.  It was now pouring and the windows were all steamed up, including the drivers-side windshield.

The roads were getting treacherous, and there was occasional flooding along the road.  We were fully into mountainous terrain by now, and from what I could see by wiping the window incessantly, it was looking pretty dangerous.  I heard rumblings from other passengers, and some were even switching to window seats in case they were going to be sick.  I was doing pretty good myself, and I think that my window gazing helped out quite a bit in keeping my mind off things.

I was following along on my Central American map as much as possible, and the drive was certainly much longer then it looked.  I think we finally pulled into Panajachel at about 6pm, and the rain was still coming down in buckets.  We all piled out of the van and scrambled for cover.  Again, I was lucky to have my pack with me.  Even more so now because the van driver was not going to try to unload the top of the van until the rain slowed down a little.  I also keep my laptop in my backpack, and even though there was a tarp around everything on the roof, I was certainly happy to not test the waterproof nature of that tarp.

When the van dropped us off I had no idea where we were, and I had no idea where my hotel of choice was in relation to where we were.  The streets on Panajachel were filled with Tuk-tuks, the small hybrid motorcycle cum taxicabs, and I observed the ones rushing by to see how dry they looked.  Most seemed to be doing ok in the rain, and they had different levels of plastic flaps protecting the passenger.  I flagged one down and we headed for the hotel.  Less then 5 minutes and 5 Quetzales later we pulled up at the Hotel Kakchiquel.

The driver did a great job of keeping me dry, and I only had to hop a two-foot puddle to exit and get to the front door.  After getting inside the front desk informed me that they did have available rooms, and that instead of $45, they would only be charging me $20.  I had to ask why at the risk of looking a gift horse in the mouth.  After checking out a room, I agreed and settled in.  I found out shortly that the free wireless interent was out of commision, but there were three free internet terminals in the lobby and an extra network connection as well so I figured for $20 I couldn't go wrong.

I did venture out to check out the town and get some food.  I know need to figure out if I can get to Copan, Honduras, and then move on to Rio Dulce back in Guatemala by Friday afternoon.  Early returns do not look good.  There are no direct shuttles to Copan from here, so I might need to amend the schedule again.

Tomorrow I will check out the town some more, and attempt to figure out the travel situation.  I will also investigate Lake Atitlan, Guatemala's third largest lake.

Later, Phil
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The Lake Atitlan waterfront at Pan…
The Lake Atitlan waterfront at Pa…
The Lake Atitlan waterfront at Pan…
The Lake Atitlan waterfront at Pa…
Volcan Atitlan across the Lake Ati…
Volcan Atitlan across the Lake At…
photo by: Biedjee