After 6 months on the road we needed a little down time and we decided upon Panajachel, Guatemala on Lake Atitlan. It’s only 177 km from the Mexican border, but the drive took us about 5 hours. The first section of the “highway” near the border is very rough with mostly potholes and full of big trucks going 20 km per hour. The next part is a windy mountain road. Again with trucks going very slowly. The middle part is a smooth 4 lane amazing road until the turn off to Solala. The road down to the lake is 17 km , but it is 85% down hill and was under construction with 50% grated pavement.
The town is very walkable, but there also many tuk tuks everywhere. There are also a lot of mopeds with 3-4 humans riding on each. If you have a bike its usually for 2. The village sits on the over 1000 ft deep lake with the view of several volcanoes. This is a place where 85% of the population are Mayan. The women and a few of the men dress in traditional clothes that are very bright and the color varies from village to village around the lake.
The market here is daily, but is the largest on Sundays. The produce is amazing. Almost every time I passed Maria i ended up buying some strange fruit she had for sale. These are Sapote and they have the flavor and texture of pumpkin pie. My other favorite haunt was to see Mirna at Super Pan for fresh hot banana muffins for 1Q each. On my way out of the bakery one night I saw Norbert on his V strom and he is also from Vancouver! The restaurants here are good and you can get a huge meal and soup for 25 Q or 3$.
We were here over the holidays so there was all kinds of activities, street dances, and of course hundreds of fireworks. At midnight on Dec 25 and 31 it sounded like a Chinese fireworks factory was on fire.
We ventured across the lake by water taxi to the village of San Juan and then walked to the next village of San Pedro. Each of the villages around the lake has different local arts and crafts for sale. Daniel made friends with this 91 year old gentleman in the park in San Pedro.
We also rode the bike east down the lake to the Village of Santa Catarina and San Antonia which are both clinging to the lakeshore.