Day 22: Stumbling into disappointment

Here we are at Lago Atitlan, a lake surrounded by looming volcanos. Whilst the view is surely impressive, the villages that accessorize the lakeside are hugely disappointing. Far from the charms of Antigua, Panajachel is so infested by tourists it is almost disgusting. Thanks to retiring gringo’s, the unattractive main street is loaded with travel agencies selling packaged tours around the lake.
Even bars have caught on to this market, featuring live bands belching out western oldies (ie Hotel California). Prices are absurdly high (still relatively cheap to developed countries, but far higher than other parts of Guatemala) – a shuttle bus to the capital costs US$25 for a 3 hour journey on properly laid out roads. To put things into perspective, we traveled from Flores to Lanquin, an 8 hour journey on asphalt and dirt for half that price. This place reminds me of some parts of Thailand where gringo’s / gweilo’s retire on the cheap – the sort you’d expect to see with a young local girl around the arm.

We heard of another village on the lake – San Pedro. It was another let down. Sure enough, being on the lakeside and beside the volcano made it interesting enough but the settlement itself lacked so much government that the whole village looked more like a hippie slum. I can think of many better places to lay back and chill (and smoke), so exactly what the attraction of Atitlan is escapes me…

Tomorrow morning we take a local bus (US$3.70) to the capital for our 2 day bus journey into Nicaragua.. we’re ready to move on so hope all goes well!

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  1. Carol says:

    Hey Glenn and KF,

    Best of luck for your adventurous trip and I hope to see you both soon!

    P.S. does the earthquakes affect your journey? take good care of yourself!!

    Best wishes,
    Carol & JK

  2. Marco says:

    you are one of the few with a bad impression. The santander, yes, you are right. But it is one street, panajachel is big and you should check out the cantinas, there are 50 of them, no western music, just the typical guatemalan flavours, no white people at all. There are so many places, even in san pedro where you will be sucked up in local traditions. You just need to skip all the gringo corners, its not that hard but you will have to speak spanish or it won't do you any good :)

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