Waited over an hour in front of my hotel in Antigua for my transport from Atitrans to show. When it finally did it was only half full and a rattling passenger van which had seen better days driven by Fernando who tells me he owns the company. Hmmmm.

We drove around Antigua as he picked up the remaining passengers.

We set off over the mountains, which reminded me of so many other mountains in Central America, with roadsides covered in the trappings of life of people who scratch out a living while carrying the banner of their Mayan heritage like a for sale sign at a Jewish pie fair.

 

The van, loaded with 4 Brits, an old Turk, a girl from Houston now living in Austin, and myself wheezed and groaned it’s way over the heights for roughly 3 hours before descending through a thick fog onto the lake shores of Lake Atitlan. We eventually arrived at Panajachel, our destination.

 

My fist impression of Panajachel wasn’t kind. Our disembarkation point was, like so many other tourist way points, infested with those who feed on the confusion that arrivals and departures create.

 

Fortunately the Turk and I were taken to our hotel, a distance of maybe 3 kilometers, for an additional $3.70 each.

 

Upon arrival our host, originally from Hiroshima, Japan, checked us in and lugged our baggage to the third floor, where our sparse but clean and comfortable rooms were located.

It had started raining while the other van passengers offloaded and so we were slightly damp and chilled and I was feeling the onset of the crud I’d been fighting off for days.

I arranged for our host to get me a tuktuk and went into town for some dinner. I tried several places where the staff were either surly or downright rude before finally settling in for a bite at a place slightly more interested in serving me. I paid 53 Q for the meal and two rum & cokes. It was tasty even though the beef could have passed for shoe leather….and might have been ! There was rice, beans, guacamole, chips, plantains, chorizo, beef ?, and watermelon washed down with Cuba Libres.

 

Immediately after eating I returned to the hotel.

I spent a restless night, woke up still tired and proceeded into the heart of the tourist circus that is Panajachel for a decent breakfast for about $2.95, which was the first real bargain I’d seen on a plate in a day or two.

While I was waiting for my food, I spied a man approaching with a lovely Golden Retriever on a leash and went out to introduce myself and look at his dog.  He and I had several things in common, besides our love for Goldens, as he had lived in Houston for 33 years while working in the construction trades. His name temporarily escapes me but his dogs name is Rusty and reminded me of the first Golden I ever owned  which trained me in the art of waterfowl hunting. Rusty’s owner (dang old brain) owns some apartments in the towers here which he rents out for $25 a day for a one bedroom and $50 a day for a two bedroom.

After breakfast I wandered by tuk tuk to the launch wharf to spot my disembarkation point, across the lake to San Pedro, tomorrow morning. I was greeted with cat calls and ridicule coupled with sarcasm from the local pack of wharf rats who feed off the tourism spawned by the lake. Several of them responded to my frown of displeasure by snapping karate kicks at imaginary foes. Welcome to Panajachel ! The San Pedro departure point forever stamped into my brain.

 

I pushed my way past several individuals determined to separate me from anything they could get and made my way on foot back to the center of the carnival which is Panajachel. I wandered through several stalls of goods where I was mocked and sneered at upon refusal to buy                                                                                                                    before finally, at 10:45, wandering into a nicely appointed bar for a beer and some rest.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              After the beer, I decided to walk back to my hotel and see what the town consisted of besides mayhem.

 

Mayhem is what it excels at but it does have some areas of interest.

 

I walked and walked past stares, sneers, and jeers and eventually came to rest in a small restaurant owed by a kind lady whose name is Lessie.

 

                                                                                                                                                   We chatted while I drank another beer then, promising to return in an hour or so for lunch, I followed her directions through a local neighborhood to the shores of the lake.

 

I stopped along the way and bought an icecream. In another shop I perused ball caps. Not finding one that suited me, I wandered on and purchased an umbrella for $4.25.

 

I stopped by a tortilla shop where two women were making tortillas and ask to take a photo. They said I could…if I gave them 1 Q…the local currency. 7Q makes a buck American. It made me laugh so much at the desperation of the demand that I paid one of them. The other refused to be involved in the photo without more money so she was left out.

 

Arriving at the lake, I wandered the shoreline and took photos until I became bored.

 

Retracing my steps I took several more photos.

 

                                                                                                                                                  

Upon regaining Lessies little eatery, I ordered lunch (chicken, potato, brined cabbage, tortillas, two types of salsa and a bottle of water) which cost me 44 Quesales or about $6.40.

 

After eating I walked the remaining 1/4 mile to my hotel.

 

From the roof I took several shots of the surrounding area.

 

The roof gave good vantage.

 

Then, worn out and feeling sick I went to bed for a nap which lasted from 2pm until 5:30 pm.

I really believe that the next several days will be rather hard on me but I will do as I must. Maybe the sun will shine and I’ll feel better.

BTW….Panajachel is not a good place but it has some decent people if you look hard. Fact is….I’m not a big fan so far !