Once again, Alan is writing this entry, so plan to be adequately informed.
Lake Attitlan is located at the base of 3 volcanos which (geologically and aesthetically) define the valley. There is a series of villages that surrounds the lake, and the biggest of these, Panajachel (known as Pana), has become a vacation spot for Guatemalans as well as the foreign tourists. We spent a couple of days in this sweet little town, which has the feel of many California beachside towns.
We had a very nice hotel room with a view of the lake, and discovered some foods and treats that are easing our disappointment with the cuisine. For instance, in Pana we discovered an Italian chocolatier who makes some truly wonderful chocolate bars and snacks (dark chocolate and cinnamon, dark chocolate and cardamom, and my favorite milk-chocolate and peanut butter).
We took the traditional boat tour of a few villages, and much to our surprise, Harriet never got sea sick. The villages were an interesting mix of indigenousness people and counter culture Westerners. Officially, their names were San Pedro, Santiago Attitlan, and San Antonio Palopo, but I referred to them as Hippieville, Weird-Church Place, and Weaverville respectively (which is a particularly odd term in this context).
In Hippivelle (San Pedro) we had a pleasant walk around the island, including talking to a young woman from Texas who runs a local bookstore and yoga studio. Later, we walk through ZooLa, a little restaurant where you eat at low tables while laying on pillows, and instructions over the door recommend that you sit and really think about what you want to eat before deciding what to order. You get the idea.
In Santiago Atitlan (Weird-Church Place), there was an intersting church with a lot of carved figures and scenes in relief. Harriet wanted to describe a few things we saw here.
Vatican’s Next Top Model
[Harriet: As the fashionista in this couple, I took careful note of the snappy attire donned by the carved saints that lined the walls of the big church. Evidently, these guys get a set of fresh threads every year, courtesy of fashion-forward local women.
Group numero uno was wearing what I would describe as dental hygenists’ cotton candy pink smocks. (Swish and pray.) Groupo dos was wearing auto mechanics’ over-sized blue workshirts sans embroidered name patch. Groupo tres was a definite standout with their 1950s picnic tablecloths in cheery turquoise with borders of enormous pink roses. And everyone, blue collar to blue tablecloth, had a little extra fashion accessory to complete their outfit — Versace(-like) silk scarves tied nattily about their necks and sometimes, wrists. Who would have thought we’d find such bold fashion statements in such a sleepy little town? – H]
Finally, San Antonio Palopo (Weaverville) had several weaving shops lining the road up to the church on a hill. You can watch them weave or embroider fabric, and (of course) buy some items.
Zip It, Zip It Good
The other notable activity for us in Pana was a visit to the local Nature Preserve. We had a lovely walk along the nature trail, visited the Butterfly Preserve, and saw some monkeys as well as the native Caoti (sort of a racoon thing).
But the real adventure was the Zip Line Tour. Both Harriet and Alan (the fellow afraid of heights) took a series of 8 zip lines down the mountain, suspended over the jungle canopy. My elder niece, Amanda, is some sort of rock, mountain, and tree climbing stud who last year was building zip line courses in Costa Rica. So with that inspiration in mind, I tried not to think about the fact that I was just stepping out over a 200 ft (or whatever) drop onto pointy tree death or worse, embarrassment. And you know, we had a great time. By the second line, I remembered to actually look around and appreciate the amazing view. I won’t say it ever got easier stepping off into nothingness, but I found that the rest of the experience made up for that. Quite the rush.
Our last activities in Pana involved shopping. The prices (and bargaining) were even better than Chichi, so Harriet now has a scarf which she hasn’t removed for 4 days. [Note from Harriet: Those scarved saints have inspired me. What can I say? – H]
Next Up: The Road to Ruins