Volcanoes Everywhere: Pacaya, Panajachel, Lake Atitlan

View Of The Agua Volcano From The Lower Trails Of The Pacaya Volcano

We’re pretty much surrounded by volcanoes right now, in the town of Panajachel on the banks of the massive Lake Atitlan.  Directly across the lake from us towers the San Pedro Volcano, and we can also see two others: Atitlan and Toliman.  We’re about 200 meters from the lake in our hotel, and since Panajachel is pretty much a one-street town, that means we’re quite close to the action – or rather non-action since this is a place primarily for relaxation.  It’s been tough, but we’ve been doing our best.
But before we got here, we spent a few more days in Antigua: our final day of Spanish lessons (for the time being) went well, as did our climb of the Pacaya Volcano.  It took about two hours to trudge up the mountain, which wasn’t made easier by the horde of horses and horsemen right on our heels hoping we’d surrender to exhaustion.

Horses On Our Heels

Near the top we saw a couple of crevice-fires, went to a large sauna-esque cavern, all while walking through the clouds.  Due to recent activity we couldn’t climb up all the way, but that seemed fine given that dying atop a volcano sounds pretty horrendous.  We stumbled down in the dark, but at least we’d brought sufficient layers so the biting wind was tolerable.

Fire, Fire On The Mountain

Our ride to Panajachel only took a few hours, and after checking out a few hotel options we found a great one, 60 quetzals/person/night ($7.50) for one of the nicer rooms we’ve had, along with free water, wi-fi, TV, and a great garden complete with a parrot.  Thankfully he doesn’t squawk too much in the early morning, and neither do the roosters next door!

The View From Our Boat Window

While here we’ve taken a private boat cruise to some traditional villages, Santa Catarina’s known for its weaving, while San Antonio’s known for both weaving and ceramic work.  We also saw a tragically hilarious hot-spring, the trickle of scalding hot water going into the lake wasn’t quite what we’d hoped for…
Yesterday we took another boat ride, over to another lakeside village, San Pedro.  While usually a supposed tourist hotspot, since it’s still the slow season there wasn’t really much going on…

Sunset Over Lake Atitlan

With all this delightful nothing happening, we’ve decided to skip the beach and just stay here for a few more days before spending the weekend back in Antigua.  We’re going to spend a few nights with Liz’s host family from when she studied here in college – should be a lot of fun!  Sorry Guatemalan beach fans, but Monterrico was a long bus ride away, and the more research we did on the beach it doesn’t sound quite as fun as what will be available in Peru just outside Lima.  Regardless, we’ll be finding out soon!


Here’s your moment of zen, a street-band featuring a five-man xylophone:

Truck-Bed Band, Antigua-Style

And of course, who could forget the accompanying dancers?

Boogying Down In The Streets

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