Lago Atitlán

I was so excited to get down to Lake Atitlán. "Atitlán" translates to "at the water" in Nahuatl, an Aztec language. We caught a bus at 4:00 p.m. and drove past one of Kyle's old areas in Chimaltenango. We arrived at 7:30 p.m. and it was dark and raining. The driver told us to go down to the marina. We waked down and saw the van drive away right when we found out the marina was locked. I immediately got unsettled but Kyle kept his cool and was able to get us in to catch a boat to our next location. With the rain and wind the boat was really choppy and wet but we finally made it to La Fortuna. We got checked in and found out that our bathroom was unfortunately outside really adding to the lake and rainforest feel. 

We woke up bright and early at 5:15 a.m. to catch the sunrise (well appearance of the sun since we were surrounded by hills and three distinct volcanos). We went out to the dock and Kyle read Mosiah chapter 18 where it talks about the Waters of Mormon (President Kimball implied that Lake Atitlán is the Waters of Mormon).

After we saw the sun come over for a bit we went back to sleep until 7:30 a.m. and had breakfast outside our bungalow at 8:00 a.m.. I had pine nut pancakes with bacon and fruit while Kyle had beans and eggs with avocados. They brought three types of hot sauce and Kyle added too much of the HOT hot sauce which had me laughing more than him. Hot water did not come and I was a bit cold the whole morning with an outdoor bathroom. They got it fixed and we were able to get a hot shower.

We got ready for the day and headed into the town across the way, Panajachel, to see the markets. It is always so fun to see the colors and the women dressed in their ceremonial clothing. We ate at a place called Casablanca and received wonderful service. We went to exchange money but they wouldn't take a copy of Kyle's passport so we had to exchange elsewhere.

After visiting Panajachel, we took a boat to go across the lake to Santiago Atitlán. Kyle said this is where we would want to buy one of the bird's eye oil paintings that are commonly found in Guatemala. We had a little bit of a scare when we went to find Maximon, a folk saint that is worshipped in different forms by the Maya people. We took a tiny 'tuk tuk' (taxi) and were dropped off in a scary part of town. We kept walking to find this Maximon but after talking to some people who were very clear about how we should not be there, we grabbed another tuk tuk and had him drive us back down to the dock. We found a store and purchased a painting that I'm sure will be treasured for years to come. 

We traveled back to Panajachel and grabbed a mania chocolate heldo (basically peanut butter chocolate) and a piña con chocolaté (pineapple dipped in chocolate). Of course is stated raining again so we grabbed a boat back to Santa Cruz and met a neat couple from Texas. That night the wonderful lodge staff fed us steak with vegetables and potatoes. We killed about 5 spiders in our bungalow before bed and tried to fall asleep. 

Our last day in Lake Atitlán, we hung out at the resort. We had slept uneasily because of the silver dollar spiders we saw the night before. We kept swiping at our pillows throughout the night just in case some little guys had decided to crawl in. Kyle even sprayed the bug spray around the perimeter of our bungalow. We woke up at 6:30, got ready and headed down to the main reception bungalow for breakfast. Kyle had a fried egg, sausage, beans and tomatoes with bread while I had a cheese and avocado omelette with salsa and toast. We shared a big bowl of fruit (my favorite!) and Kyle had a glass of grapefruit juice while I had orange juice. 

We met a neat couple the night before from Houston who had dinner with us and then breakfast too. They are Muslim and we talked about the many similarities between their religion and ours (they don't drink alcohol for example). They also told us about the adventures they have had in Costa Rica and Machu Picchu. After breakfast, we had them put in kayaks for us and we set out to explore the bay. We got some amazing shots in the water of Volcán Tolimán and each of us rowing towards it. We went around the corner to another lagoon and saw some other lodges and hotels. We also saw a partly submerged home where the water level had raised to cover it. 

We made our way back and decided to go on a hike that was recommended to us just above our bungalow. Two out of the three dogs that live on the property joined us as we snaked our way through the jungle and fought against the cobwebs holding us back. We made it to a clearing high above the lake and took a moment before heading back down.

We packed up our things for check out and were able to leave them in the lodge while we went for a swim in the lake and laid out in the sun (which never seems to agree with my pale skin). We stayed a bit longer to rest and relax before flagging down a boat to head back to Panajachel. Once there we went to get set up for our trip back to Antigua. We found the tour shop that we take closed and tried not to worry that we might not make it out and that they hadn't forgotten us. We grabbed lunch at an adorable garden covered terrace with hummingbirds and got traditional Mexican food (black bean burrito for Kyle and quesadilla with ranchero salsa for me). We made sure to stop for helado at sombrilandsia and both got a mania (basically peanut butter) helado dipped in chocolate. Oh so good! We trekked back to the tour place and found they were open, thank goodness. Our car came and we hopped in to head back to Antigua. On the way there we traveled back through Chimaltenango where Kyle was able to see the area again and point out the church building.

Next stop....Tikal!

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