01-01-2014, 04:00 PM
Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Somewhere in Latin America
42. San Pedro, Watchu Got?
Alright let’s get caught up on where I currently am, sorry for the lack of posts. As of now I’m in San Pedro la laguna on Lake Atitlan. When I crashed last week my camera got obliterated as I tumbled down the road. I’ve been hanging out here while I figure out the best and least expensive way to get another one. An inmate turned me on to refurbished cameras straight from Canon, so I picked an older model up pretty cheap (comparatively) and it’s shipping to my buddy Kosh in Seattle. Since I’m getting a package from the US I might as well take the opportunity to put some other stuff in it as well like a couple parts. Shipping stuff is expensive down here and more so if it’s expensive items themselves, so we’ll make everything look grungy and old, and then doll up some fake receipts to fool customs about the cost and hopefully dodge some of the ridiculous import taxes. I probably got another 2 weeks before anything arrives in Antigua so until then I’m sticking around and seeing what there is to see over here in the much cheaper San Pedro. Let’s cut back a week though and get caught up.
I rolled out of Antigua for San Pedro a few days before Christmas. The lake is suppose to be a popular place for the holidays so I knew I wanted to get there before the crowds and lock in a cheap spot. I was told by a local that I should check out Panajachel along the way. This is a small town on the eastern side of the lake which is closest to Antigua.
The road out was nice and this region is full of farms, nice ‘sunday ride’ type stuff.
I decided to make a slight detour down to Panajachel from the main highway hoping to find some scenic roads. I found some nice windy ones that snaked around the farms up in the ‘highlands’ that surround Panajachel and the lake.
I got lost for a bit on the back roads but I didn’t mind. This place is beautiful.
I found my way down into Panajachel eventually and scoped the scene for a hot minute.
Most people come to Panajachel and shop or sightsee, then if they are wanting to go to other places around the lake they take a lancha (small boat) to wherever they are going. Although I can see San Pedro from this side of the lake I’ll be driving around for another 1.5 to get down to it from the other side of the volcanoes.
Ran into a girl I’d met in Flores from the Netherlands so we grabbed some food and hung out for a bit. Nom nom nom.
I headed out of Panajachel and started wrapping around the north end of the lake and climbing the backside of one of the Volcanoes before dropping down into the lake. Clouds were hugging onto the very tip-y-top of the volcano as I came up the summit.
Cresting the top I started the long descent down to the lake.
There are a half dozen or so small towns that line all sides of the lake. All of the populations are Maya and there are 4 separate dialects of Maya spoken around the lake. Each place has a different vibe to it and the locals can tell each other apart by how they dress. For example the women from San Marcos wear predominantly purple based clothing whereas the women from San Pedro where red based clothing. This is San Marcos
And 2 towns over to the right (on the west side of the lake) is San Pedro.
I rode around looking for the cheapest place I could find that still had decent parking for my bike. The streets are so small around here I can’t just leave it out on the road. I found a place with private rooms with bathroom etc for 30Q per night ($~4) and good parking for my bike. Place is called Hotel Peneleu if anyone is interested in the future.
The town is nice and relaxed but with an interesting vibing energy to it. There are a lot of hippies or otherwise ‘earth conscious’ people that flock here. Everyone seems to love the energy around this lake, and it shows in the overall feel of the place when walking around any of the towns that surround it. San Pedro is a hilly town with lots of little streets and alleys. It’s simple and understated.
Sunday is family-fun-day at the local community pool. Here you can eat all afternoon good home-cookin BBQ with plates that range from $4 - $10 and it’s all really good. Lots of the traveling or ex-pat community come here for Sundays but local families also come hang out as well.
Looking out at the water you can see one of the many ways this place has changed so much in the last few years. As you can see, this is a house, and just a couple of years ago it was a tienda sitting on the beach serving food and drinks to the boats that came in to shore in front of it. Now though the beach doesn’t exist and the water is steadily creeping up inland with every year. I’ve asked lots of locals how long this has been happening and what they think the reason is. I’ve heard everything from just lots more rain from global climate change, to more people on the lake and thus more water consumption (sewage, showers, cleaning, etc) which just all goes into the lake, to more farms around the lake and thus less tree cover leading to more surface soil getting washed into the lake which is plugging up the one underwater drain for the whole lake. Some people even say it’s normal and does this every 50 years or so. Still don’t have any real answers but maybe it’s a combination of all of the above. If you want to buy property on Lake Atitlan (and it’s dirt cheap for abso-fucking-lutely AMAZING SCENERY) definitely build a bit up the hill rather than right on the water.
As I’ll be here for a while I have been asking people about things to do in the area. I met a guy in Antigua who said there is an old mayan transport road the cuts between two of the volcanoes. It has been used for centuries to transport goods from the lake to the villages on the other side of the volcanoes. I have been asking all the locals I can about this road and no one seems to know about it, I trust the guy from Antigua though as he says he’s actually been on it. I’m determined to find it and ride it. I’ve got enough info to go looking for it so I’m going to see if I can find it tomorrow. If I come up empty handed at least it’ll be a good dirt ride through the volcanoes, maybe find some small towns without any tourists as well.