Life at the Lake: Lake Atitlan

After two days in Antigua it was time to head out and relax at Lake Atitlán in beautiful San Marcos de Laguna. Andrea and I took a shuttle bus from Antigua Panajachel, the lake’s largest town located on the eastern shore. There we waited around 45 minutes until the little yola (taxi boat) left shore and headed out to the different towns around the lake. The fourth village we hit was our destination, San Marcos La Laguna. Our friends Patricia and Juan Carlos suggested a nice lakefront hostel called Posada Schumann, and this is were we stayed for our two nights on the lake. The atmosphere at this very small town was amazing as all of the hostels were in full swing with yoga vibes and positive energy.

One downside to the lake that we quickly noticed upon our arrival was that the lake is contaminated with an algae that looks like poop! Locals told us that the native fish that controlled the growth of this algae by eating it has been overfished, and now algae is growing uncontrollably all around the lake since it is not being eaten as quickly. This, in conjunction with the growing human population around the lake and the waste these villages generate (guess where this waste ends up?) has contributed to the lake not being swimmable!

The morning after our arrival I decided to try one of the Hatha yoga classes at Hostal La Paz and it was rejuvenating. For only Q40 ($5), this two-hour class was worth every single penny for what it did to help my aching, backpack-lugging body. After my mind was cleared from yoga, I headed back to the hostal where Andrea and I caught up on picture uploading and editing and ate brunch. To our surprise, around noon Patricia, one of my little sister’s best friends, arrived with her Guatemalan boyfriend Juan Carlos and his labrador puppy Juan! Juan Carlos and Patricia took us for a ride around the lake in their truck and showed us some towns that we would have never seen without them. Having friends where you’re traveling and seeing bit of truly local life is always a welcome change to the backpacker trail. We visited the party town of San Pedro de Laguna, had some beers and shots, and ate really good vegetarian food while talking about sustainability. Soon after, we headed back to San Marcos before the sun went down since the roads around the lake are very undeveloped and sunlight is essential to drive on them. At night we headed to Hostal del Lago for cheap beers and good views to continue our relaxed day and keep enjoying the company of Juan Carlos and Patricia.

Salud!

-Gerardo

Next: Semuc Champey

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