Monday, August 15, 2011

My Weekend at the Lake

It’s been hard to write every day…but it’s even harder if I DON’T write every day! There’s just so much to say and try to explain in few profound words. So for the time being, I will skip Thursday and Friday and go straight to the weekend (I’ll try to come back to them at some other time). This weekend I went with one of my housemates to Lake Atitlan. It was the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. It was so remote and beautiful and untouched in a lot of ways. The pictures are nice, but even they can’t begin to explain what I saw. We arrived in Panahachel on Saturday morning, and quickly realized neither of us had brought enough cash. We were really hoping places would take plastic…we were wrong. So most of Saturday was panic ridden as we tried to calculate exactly what we could do with the money we had.

Let me quickly explain some about the lake…first of all, it’s absolutely HUGE! You can’t see the other side of it in places and it takes an hour by boat to reach the far end. Also, it’s surrounded by several pueblos…probably fifteen of them or so. But many of the pueblos, you can’t drive to, they are only accessible by boat. Each pueblo is different and has different things to offer. We decided to go to Santiago, San Pedro and Santa Cruz on Saturday.

Santiago is interesting for a few reasons. One, it’s home to Maximon. I won’t bore you with many of the details about Maximon, but it’s so cool I have to share some about him. Maximon is a saint in the Mayan culture…but he’s not just any saint, he’s the sinners saint (he’s also been considered the Saint of Judas Iscariot). Maximon moves around from house to house each year. If you pay a small fee, you can visit him and take a picture of him. He’s a wooden sculpture, dressed in scarves a hat and smoking a fat cigar. He (by “he” I mean the family that’s hosting him) also accepts gifts of cigarettes or rum. It’s just such a strange idea, that I had to see it. That’s him in the picture, along with one of the guards that flanked him on either side. He literally is just at someone’s house…and we had to walk through this back alley and utter, sickening poverty to get to the house where he was staying. It was an interesting experience to say the least.

After a quick stop in San Pedro (not much to see here, however, we did find out it was a great place for buying and selling la ganja), we made our way to Santa Cruz where we finally found a hotel that would take credit cards. Let me preface this by saying, the place was great. It had great views, a fun and relaxing atmosphere and amazing food. However. The only room they had left did not have its own bathroom (we had to share with several others) or electricity. Yes, you read that right. We didn’t have electricity. When we checked in, they gave us the key and three candles. Oh, and the key was to a giant padlock that we were to use to lock the door…from the outside. If we were inside, just a latch lock would have to do. Wow. Where am I? And what the heck am I doing? But as it turned out, you can handle anything for one night and it wasn’t so bad after all. The hotel was a great place to read a book in a hammock overlooking the water or just hang out on the porch and enjoy the view. The picture with the boats in sight is the view from the porch. Very relaxing. We did a short kayaking trip Sunday morning which was so cool! I’m not a huge fan of water and have been really reluctant to try kayaking, but I was feeling just adventurous enough to give it a go. I’m so glad I did. The views of the mountains from the water were even better than on land. Every time you look at the lake and its surroundings, it looks different.

It was a great weekend, with only minor money snafus and a wee bit of car sickness. I can’t wait to see what this weekend brings! Tikal? Es possible. Stay tuned.


At Tuesday, August 16, 2011, Anonymous Aspen said...

Beautiful and strange and I want to hear more.


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