San Pedro La Laguna: Lake Atitlan and The Journey Part 7
Way back, when I started planning this trip, I was completely captivated by the beauty of Lake Atitlan and it was one of my major reasons for wanting to visit Guatemala. I wanted to see those majestic volcanoes rising up over the lake. I never imagined how peaceful, yet powerful, Lake Atitlan would be until I saw it with my own eyes!
I took a bus from Semuc Champey and arrived late in the evening to Panajachel. Panajachel is located on the northeast edge of Lake Atitlan and serves as the hub for water taxis around the lake. When we arrived we had to send someone immediately to the water taxi dock to hold the last water taxi. After getting situated on the water taxi it I could see all the lights from the surrounding towns. There are 11 towns that surround Lake Atitlan. I was headed to San Pedro la Laguna. With approximately 11,000 people San Pedro is one of the largest towns on the lake and also the most popular for tourists.
Volcan San Pedro towers above San Pedro la Laguna and is one of the three volcanoes around Lake Atitlan. Volcan Atitlan and Volcan Tollman are the other two volcanoes. Volcan San Pedro is the oldest volcano of the three and is believed to have stopped erupting around 40,000 years ago.
After a 50 minute ride on the water taxi, I arrived at the San Pedro dock where there were a bunch of tuk-tuks waiting to transport everyone to their locations. I got in a tuk-tuk and told the driver where I wanted to go. He took off quickly and suddenly I found myself going down what appeared to be a walkway that was only a couple of feet wider than the tuk-tuk. Twisting and turning in the dark down one walkway after another, the tuk-tuk finally came to a stop in a very dark corner. There was a dirt path in the dark leading off into the unknown. The driver pointed down the path and said in Spanish "Mikasa is down there."
I was immediately on alert. Was this where I get ambushed by his friends? Is this where I get robbed? I grabbed my backpacks and started to head down the path. I was expecting anything. My heart pounding, I took several steps and then stopped to listen for any sounds that could tell me what was ahead. I heard nothing but the waves from the lake pounding against the rocks on the shore. I continued to walk down the path until I came to a small tunnel that was even darker. I could see there was a small sign with my hotel name on it but I was still leery of what was ahead. It was very hot and I was sweating. Suddenly something jumped out in front of me. "Meow!" It was a cat wanting attention. I ignored the cat and kept walking.
I finally came to some steps that looked like they were going into the back of a house but realized the steps went into the lobby of the hotel. I made it, alive and well. No robbery or ambushes happened and I was happy because it had been a long day of travel.
I spent the next four days wandering around San Pedro. I found the market in the center of town to be delightful. The fresh produce, the hand-made goods, and everything else being sold at reasonable prices. It is always fun to haggle with the sellers and some of them seem to enjoy it as well. I only haggle to make sure I am not getting ripped off. I want to make sure they are still making money but I get it at a fair price.
The market is so full of life. All of the streets around the market are bustling with activity of people of all ages trying to find the goods they need. The vibrant colors are present everywhere in the market. The colors of the fruits and vegetables, clothing, umbrellas over each booth, and the colors of the tuk-tuk there to help people get their purchases home. If you have never been to an outdoor market such as this, I highly recommend doing so. You can find out a lot about a culture and the people by just hanging around the market.
The nightlife in San Pedro is what attracts many tourists to stay here instead of town such as San Marcos. There are quite a few places to go in San Pedro for drinking, dancing, and karoake. Many of the hostels and hotels also cater to tourists by having their own restaurants and bars with fun activities each night for patrons.
There are so many fascinating things that make San Pedro such a great place. The people are very friendly and willing to talk to tourists. Much of the community relies on tourism for their income and this keeps locals friendly towards tourists. Tourists can also find many activities to keep them busy. There are kayak rentals, paddle boats, swimming, snorkeling, boat rentals, tours, and scuba diving. There is something for everyone.
Along with the people and activities there is some great artwork around the town. Much of the artwork is painted on the sides of buildings, and walls in the walkways. Some of the artwork is historical while others are mystical but they are all beautiful. The atmosphere is quaint with the architecture combined with the artwork and cobblestone streets. San Pedro la Laguna is a fascinating place and one of the highlights of Lake ATitlan and Guatemala. I had a great time during my stay at San Pedro and decided that I wanted to find out more about Lake Atitlan so I left San Pedro after fours days. I headed to San Marcos for a completely different experience. Stay tuned for the next step in my journey as I travel to San Marcos on Lake Atitlan. Until then, get out and travel friends!