Saturday, March 28, 2009

Atitlan Lake

Hi there!

I would like to start with one the most magical places all over the world: Atitlan Lake in Guatemala.

It´s one of the most tourist places in Guatemala. The things that make it different are:

- It´s a volcano´s crater.
- It´s surrounded by 14 Maya´s villages that conserved their own culture and languages.
- There are 3 beautiful volcanoes together at the south side.
- Even at the most touristic time you can find peace there.

I had been there several times and one of my most courious memories is: We were in total 5 people, we went on January 2008. We stayed in an apartment in San Buenaventura de Atitlan. Edu was part of the group and I´m afraid he has fame of being a jinx… Well, I won´t start to discuss if he deserves that or not, neither how he got that fame, as this is not the point of this post! ; ) but actually we had a lot of exiting experiences during that trip, so, maybe he´s at least a bit! : D

During those days the wind was really wild in all Guatemala, we had seen a lot of rocks, cables and branches at the road, but nothing to be really scared about. Once in the hotel, we went to the lake´s shore. It was more or less 17.00 and the weather, not taking into account the wind, was great. Even there were not really too much wind at that moment. Very close to the shore it was a small terrace with benches and some tables, like for going to play something or to eat/drink something watching the great lake + volcanoes´ view. We were drinking orange juice, resting, taking pics, having a bit of the place´s peace.

That night the wind become worst and we even had a power cut in the whole country (that is really not normal to have…). We were in safety place, but no radio, no tv, no internet (oh my God! No internet!) : ) and not even phone. The sound of the wind outside was terrible; going to the reception desk by a road surrounded by trees wasn’t a real option. But, well, as I said, we were in a safe place, no real risk for us, so we were enjoying the relaxing view of the fire at the fireplace. After something like 2 hours, the light came back and all seemed to be normal.

The day after, we went to take breakfast and there were a lot of branches and leaves all over the place, a clear symptom of what the wind has done there. We went to have a walk again to the lake´s shore… and! The poor terrace was completely down! A big tree situated so close to it had been pulled up from the root by the wind! Surely they had repair it latter, but we have the last pics of that terrace before the winds… and I also think the first ones after the crash!

The wind was still a bit brave, so, we were thinking if having the boat tour was a good idea or not, but the driver said it shouldn’t be a problem, so we did it. At the beginning was really ok, we were playing, laughing, and enjoying the views. The tour was about visiting by boat 2 villages: Santiago Atitlán and Santa Catarina Palopó. In Santiago Atitlán we took another tour in “Tuk tuk” (some kind of motor bike taxies) that was nice and that I recommend if you don´t have so many time to spend there. I also asked them to take us to visit “Maximon” but I think that experience deserves another post! : )

Going to Santa Catarina, the wind became worst and the boat started to do some jumps that made us to be afraid about if our young driver would really know how to handle the situation… at the beginning we were even laughing about it… but after a while, we all was in silence, holding of ourselves to the boat and ensuring that our life jackets were o.k.

I even started to think about how exactly I will explain to their families that we had trust on a young boat driver to take the decision of going on with that tour even watching the wind! (Yes, I know, a bit dramatic, but at least I was thinking that I´ll be a survivor!) ; D

Finally we arrived in Santa Catarina with nothing but an interesting story and video, making jokes about the travel and Edu the jinx! : D We went to eat to “Villa Santa Catarina” hotel, great food, and went back to Panajachel in a quite most relaxed navigation.

That afternoon we went to visit the Hotel Atilán gardens and to drink a Piña Colada watching the great view from it´s bar...

... as I did again with my friend Alba in March 2009. (Just that at this time I also stayed there to enjoy a bit more the hotel!) : )

My recommendations are:

- A hotel in Panajachel: Hotel Atitlan This hotel is extremely nice. They have done a great job with the garden, as good as they even charge the entrance to their gardens to people that is not staying with them. Nice swimming pool an d a great outside Jacuzzi with an amazing view. Mayan sauna. Of course they offer all 5 stars hotel services, even massages and other beauty treatments. They use to have very good food at the restaurant, that btw it´s a bit expensive, but the last time I was there (March 2009), was not that good. So, is better to go to the town to eat, but as far as the hotel is not exactly inside the town, sometimes to dress up just for going to eat… well… after all the food is not really bad! ; )(But going for example to "El Tocoyal" could be the half).

- An apartment in Panajachel: San Buenaventura de Atitlan If you are thinking about going with family and/or friends, this is your best choice. Situated at the side of Hotel Atitlan, had been done with environmental architectonic design. In some of the apartments you can even find a shower that gives you the impression you are taking shower at the middle of the mountain. The last time I had been there was in January 2008… I should say that it was a bit neglected, but it´s still a nice place to spend some days.

- A restaurant in Panajachel: Tocoyal Situated at the public lake´s beach, has a great variation of Guatemalan´s food with really good prices.

- A hotel in Santa Catarina Palopó: Villa Santa Catarina Great views, great food, excellent attention.

- A place to stop to eat something at the road (going from Guatemala City to Atitlán): Cape Paulinos, address:carretera interamericana Km 87 Tecpan Guatemala (sorry, haven´t found a web for reference). A lot of typical food, quite good quality, great prices, also has a market to buy native items.

- Activities to do: All kind of water sports are allowed. There´s a natural park with a lot of interesting animals and vegetation, worth view definitely. Really good idea to make a tour by boat to different villages, that could be also done in car, but it´s so nice to be at the middle of the lake for some minutes. Really interesting experience to visit Maximon.

Some pictures and information webs:

Friday, March 27, 2009


Hi world! : )

I´m Ivette, from Guatemala, living in Madrid.

I love life and our world. I love simple things like a small flower but also more complex ones like a helicopter tour in Iguazú Falls or a Scrabble Tourney.

I´m lucky because I had been able to do so many and so different things in my life, like visiting several countries, and always I give myself time to do something interesting everywhere I go. So I have a lot of funny stories and recommendations to share… that fare my friends encouraged me to start a blog and share with the rest of the world as well! ; )

So, here I am, willing to give at least something different to read to you.