All trips have their ups and downs and today was definitely a strange day for us.
We woke up early and still tired—bad sleep due to the usual suspects (the chickens) and dogs barking all night. We took an early boat from San Pedro to Panajachel. Back to “civilization”… in a way.
The boat trip was great. The lake was calm and in the early morning, the volcanoes, still misty, reminded me of these landscape sceneries in Guilin, China. Not that I’ve ever been to Guilin—it’s just what came to my sleepy mind.
Ten years ago, Panajachel was a chaotic village. The doorway to the Lago de Atitlan, it’s an obligatory stop. It was touristy, borderline tacky and slightly stressful.
Well, it hasn’t changed for the better. Pana is bigger than it was, and a few high-rise look out-of-place in the somewhat still rural landscape. There are way more shops than before and few target shoestring backpackers now. Pana is dirty, dusty and walking the main street, Calle Santander, is a painful exercise. Every two metres, you have to dodge a tuk-tuk or a car, and every metre, you have to say “no gracias” to the dozen of kids and women who sell crafts and colourful scarves or blankets.
Once you reach the dock, you have to say “no” to the “boat people” who insist you should take a lancha to San Pedro or San Marcos. “Llegamos de San Pedro!” I finally shouted after a guy wouldn’t leave us alone.
And of course, as you walk, you’ll pass all the restaurants whose zealous waiters corner you and insist you should have the pollo especial at 2 p.m.
Panajachel is stressful.
Yet, the view is amazing. Of all the villages, it has the best view of the two volcanoes, especially in the morning when the sky is clear. I’ll remember the view and forget the rest. We had a much better time in San Pedro, and I’m glad that’s where we decided to stay for most of our Lago de Atitlan stop.
At the same time, today, we were trying to plan the best way to leave Guatemala. Bus connections are fucked up and there is just no easy way to get to wherever we are trying to. So we are going. We just don’t know how it will all work out eventually.
Oh well… it will, right?