Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lago Atitlan and Antigua

I was really quite sad to be leaving Xela. I generally don't travel back to places that I have already been. I find it hard to stop myself from comparing things to the first time. But my four weeks in Xela were fantastic but that didn't have to mean that they were better and worse than my previous stint in Xela. They were just different.

It is easy to feel settled in Xela. So many great cafes, cheap yoga classes, a variety of restaurants and of course all the lovely people that I had formed new friendships with (or rekindled old ones). But I had but two days left in Guatemala and I really wanted to visit Lago Atitlan and Antigua. One of the biggest regrets of our travels through Guatemala the first time around was the lose of our camera which included pictures of the lake and Antigua. (Also Semuc Champey, but there was no way I was getting that far on this trip). So armed with my new camera I set forth on a journey of wild chicken bus rides for two days of travel and picture taking.

The morning I awoke in Panajechel I headed down to the lakeshore while it was still dark. The sunrise was both behind me while facing the lake and none too spectacular but the peacefulness I found there was well worth the early hour. Staring at the two majestic volcanoes rising up out of the far side of the lake I was reminded of my first impression that this lake felt set in a land of giants and mythical creatures. Slowly as the surrounding villages awoke the lake became a bustle of boats, touts calling the names of villages tourists might wish to visit, ladies walking about with satchels of handicrafts and of course tourists of all ages from the unshowered types with long dreads to the older couples just off their airconditioned tour buses. Panajechel is the place to visit in Guatemala so it is brimming with tourists. But even with all the commerce going around it, the lake never loses its mythical charm. It is places like this that are the truly special places on this planet.

My time in Antigua passed by quickly as I ran about trying to do all those last minute things before flying out first thing the next morning. Unfortunately I felt that Antigua was just completely over run with tourists which totally detracted from the beauty of the colours. I did snap a few pictures of the pretty buildings in the little daylight I had while there.

And that was it. The next morning I awoke at 3:30am for a shuttle to the airport. 3:30 is pretty much the worst time. It is too late to be late at night and too early to be morning. Although I suppose the group that stumbled in drunk right before I boarded my shuttle would disagree with my analysis. But I spent the final day of my trip in an absolute stupor just wanting to be home in Canada before starting my next long journey back to Australia.

Enjoy my pictures of Lago Atitlan and Antigua.

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