After spending a quiet a.m. in Copan, we boarded a sprinter van for the shuttle back to Antigua. At this time I must coment on the drive through Guatemala City....almost 2 1/2 hours it took on the tail end of rush hour.
Chicken buses...highly colored old Bluebird schoolbuses with flashing LED colored lights drive along the shoulders of traffic lanes and just inch over into the traffic regardless of whom is beside them....and traffic stops to let them in! They are so much bigger. Motorcycles whiz past between lanes. Cars creep along ever merging. It is an experience.
It was 8.30p when we were dropped at Ojala Hotel looking forward to room 6 only to find it had been given to people from Denver and that room 5 was next if we did not check in by 10p. Was I upset! The receptionist acted like he had never seen us before....rude! Even wanted our passaportes even tho' we had booked with him 2 days before. He told us the bathroom was blocked in room 6....no it wasn't. We had talked to the Denver people before. Room 5 was half the size. But it is now Sat. And we had a good sleep in room 6.
Yesterday we went to Panajachel on Lake Atitlan. Another shuttle. This one with frequent stops...and Friday is mercado in all the small towns. We got to see lots of merchandise...fruits, veggies, terracotta pots, clothing, live chickens being unloaded,etc as we inched by.
The region is mountainous. The landscape green. Villages frequent. We wound down into Panajachel a city on the shores of Lago Atitlan. We were dropped at San Marcos pier. Here we were ushered to the ferry...we were the last as it was full. We scooted over to Santa Cruz where 1/2 the people disembarked. Within 10 min. the ferry was almost full again and we were on our way to Tzununa where a group of missionaries disembarked. We didn't hang around. San Marcos was next.
San Marcos is the Hippie Commune....where anything goes. We found a warren of paths..clean..between corrugated tin buildings. Stalls of woven work....shawls, table runners, placemats, blouses and bedspreads for sale. Little restaurants offered snacks and for us breakfast....and much needed coffee. In places vines shaded the path as we wandered ever up to the main drag....an actual wide street with tuk tuks speeding by....to take you on a tour. Jewellery venders were everywhere...not all was beading. The atmosphere was peaceful. The residents were dressed in clorful outfits. Many had dreadlocks. All were polite, courteous and nice. But our time was limited and with more to see we wandered the cool path back to the pier to board another ferry.
Ferries are the size of a large cabin cruiser lined with seats and a roof overhead. They hold about 28 people.
Lago de Atitlan is clear, large and surrounded with volcanoes. Some are active. It is hazy but sunny today. In the morning the lake is calm. Little villages accessible only by boat dot the shores and cling to the mountains along with the occasional resort, some with grass covered roofs.
We disembark at San Pedro and await the ferry to Santiago. San Pedro seems to be one of the larger cities and a center for the ferries to other villages. From the shore the little white church stands out high above the shore. Touts offer tuk tuk tours. Venders offer beaded hummingbirds and rolled beaded necklaces. And we wait 1/2 hour before we are directed to the Santiago ferry. At 1/2 full, he heads for another dock...but goes back for a late passenger. At the next dock he soon fills..and we are off....scooting across the water up an inlet to Santiago. And we disembark. With lots of help! The wharf is high and I guess I look frail.
Again the way up is lined with little stores, anxious venders...and some not so anxious. Paintings seem to be the only difference as there are lots here. Restaurants seem few although we find a cafe on the cross street above for a late lunch.
A harried young man makes drinks, runs up stairs to place our food order and back down to make more drinks. Lunch arrives....from the 2nd floor...a quesadillas and a bowl of soup. We have an unhurried lunch and wander down to the wharf along another path. It ends at the pier.
We see a ship painted to look like a shark filled with tourists. It stops only a minute and is off again.
Our ferry this time is newer...with an aisle that can become a seat. Although similar in design, it holds more people and is faster. It leaves at 2p. The way across the lago is rougher, takes longer and it is 3p when we arrive in Panajachel. We have only 1/2 hour to find Posada Don Rodriego, our pick up point.
Again we walk through various vender stalls attempting to find the way up to Posada Don Rodrigo ...and we do. It too is on the shore. And the street up has venders....pleez meeez. But we say non gracius and continue on. We ask at reception...and the shuttles will be here at the gate by 4p. It is 3.15p....so we wander. We find a corner store...mid block and buy snacks. It will be after 7p before we are at Antigua.
While we wait we talk to an Irani...from San Diego, USA, a couple of nurses from Victoria, B.C.. one of which has returned with a surgical team each year for 10 years. She trips over pavement and falls...but seems unhurt...maybe bruised.
Shuttles come and go but not for us. It is after 5p. We are the only ones left when a shuttle stops, asks our name and says he has been waiting for us at the office. We show him our ticket which clearly says Posada Don Rodrigo. And we tell him his office said San Marcos pier but the driver had said Posada Don Rodrigo. We are seated. And off winding up the mountain. The villages are quiet. The mercado is finished. We speed along. We stop to pick up 2 young men...one is a social worker from Austin, Texas and chatty to Gord. It is after 8p when we are dropped at Ojala.
We go to Hector's Bistro...a French restaurant recommended by Joanne the nurse who so often returns. Our meal is excellente.
We go back and settle.
Antigua has a moderate temperature. It seemed cool after the hot days in Nicaragua and El Salvador. We sit now outside our room watch hummingbirds play amoung rooftop bouganvillas. We spot the frequent puffs from Volcan Fuego. Another relaxing day.