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Old 01-09-2014, 10:17 AM   #175
Water Bear
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Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Somewhere in Latin America
Oddometer: 493
44. Boredom, Inspiring Activities Since The Dawn of Time

When I was out looking for the Mayan road and exploring the area around Lake Atitlan, I came across a group of hikers who were on a 4 day trek from Xela (up north) down to the lake. It was random running into a gaggle of tourists out there so I stopped and said hey for a bit and asked them what they were up to. There were a few girls and a guy that I had actually met previously up in Mexico. 2 days later one of the girls, Julia, showed up at the same hotel as me.

My camera got obliterated when I crashed so all these photos are Julia’s, thanks Julia.

Hotel Peneleu is where we are staying, and they got a pretty sweet set-up. With private rooms starting at 30Q a night, it’s pretty hard to beat.

Seeing that I’m laying low and letting my ankle heal for the holidays I’ve been running low on things to do around here. She was down to go explore so we went out looking for things to do around the lake. San Pedro isn’t very big and unless you get creative, you can run through most of the general activities pretty quickly. My dad used to always say that boredom is a great thing, when you are bored that’s when you are inspired to find new and fun things to do.

There are a handful of other towns around the lake so we set out to see what they had. The last town that you can actually ride to when heading north around the lake is called Tzununa, after that there is another town called Jaibalito that you either have to hike to or take a launcha (small boat) on the lake to. Julia is German and we heard there is a guy that lives in Jaibalito who runs a small german restaurant with authentic rye bread and german food. With my ankle still being a bit funky the german food will be my carrot on the stick after tromping around.

The ride around the lake through the pueblos was nice. The weather here seems to always be good, a little windy on a bad day but that’s about it.

Handy having a co-pilot to handle photo taking. We made our way around the lake towards Tzununa.

We got as far as we could ride then started hiking. The hike was largely open with great views of the lake.

We were told it’s about a 45 minute walk but we were antsy to boogey so we jog-walked it. Wasn’t the best idea for my ankle but I’m jonesing for that German food.

Jaibalito is a small pueblo with mostly a local population.

We went for a dip with the local rascals. One little kid had the balls to push me in off the dock. I wouldn’t swim on the San Pedro side of the lake, since the last earthquake there has been no real water treatment system here, and all the shit, literally, goes right into the lake. This side of the lake though is much cleaner.

As with most of the places around the lake there is also a community of expats living out their dream days here as well. They all seem to get bored eventually and start doing some sort of project or activity within the community. Sometimes it’s a recycling program (which is badly needed). The concept of throwing away your trash in appropriate ways is not something that is a part of the culture. There was a group of little kids that left their snack trash by the lake after swimming. I picked it up and they looked at me confused. I said “this place is beautiful right?”, “You want to have kids here some day right? You want it to be beautiful for them too right? Well this stuff doesn’t go anywhere, it stays right where you leave it, and if you don’t start taking care of the lake, it’s not going to be beautiful for your kids when they grow up.” They seemed pretty confused, not that they didn’t understand, but as if they hadn’t really thought about it before. Hopefully they’ll think about it as they get older. The first step in solving the problem is also creating a place to put the trash/recycling.

Other times when the expats get bored they open restaurants. This is the case for Hans and his German restaurant, but I’m not complaining :-)

According to Julia-the-german the food was pretty authentic. The items wouldn’t normally all be eaten together like this, but she said the preparation was authentic. This plate was 26Q (~$3.50).

We walked around a bit after lunch. Christmas is a thing here too.

This old lady came down the path with two branches for walking poles, one of which was twice the size of her. Her movement was ancient and her steps tiny, but she was cruising as if she was out just going about her normal business.

She was probably the smallest women alive.


Kids and their handheld entertainment these days.


The next day we headed in the other direction around the lake towards the Santiago. Santiago is the largest town on this side of the lake. It also has the biggest market and is the most touristy because the locals dress the most traditionally here.

Dried fish.

Live (for the moment) crabs. I think these are from the lake but not sure, are there fresh water crabs??

We went with a fist-full of tamale instead.

We took a ride outside of town and up to the mirrador that sits between the two volcanoes. This is the same place that I had been a couple days before when I was looking for the old mayan road.

If you ride a bit past the top of the mirrador and onto the unpaved section leading towards Chicacao, the beauty of the mirrador quickly shifts to a much sadder reality. Trash is a problem here, just like it is everywhere else in the world. In the US, we do a decent job of tucking them away in discrete places. Here they have taken our lead and dump all their trash on the other side of this mirrador where people aren't likely to really go and thus don't see it. The trash is lit on fire and the smoke is conveniently masked by the constant shifting haze of the real clouds that engulf the ridgeline. It’s sad seeing stuff like this, the blatant pollution of such a beautiful area is upsetting. I can’t help but realize though that what we do in the US with our trash is really only minutely different to how it is handled here in Guatemala. In the end, trash dumped and buried in the ground is all the same, whether we can ride up and see it with our own eyes or not. Now channeling my inner hippie - RECYCLE as much as possible, and THINK about the things we buy and where they eventually end up!

On the way back from the mirrador we stopped where I had my little tumble the previous week. I could see some of the marks my gear left on the pavement, glad I was riding with all my gear on.

We also met this 101 year old lady on her birthday in one of the small towns. Her name was Maria. She was spry for someone in the triple digits, and her sons were all with her getting wasted in her honor, funny guys and funny lady. Happy Birthday Maria.

Good kicking it Julia, enjoy being back up North in the land of white up in Whitehorse.

"In life sometimes you just need to value adventure above security and comfort."
No-Moto-Boundaries, Tanning A Ginger Tip-to-Tip, '04 KLR 688

SeanPNW screwed with this post 01-10-2014 at 05:24 AM
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