Lake Atitlan Journals

A Month on Lake Atitlán

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A May 2000 trip to Lake Atitlan by evilchris

Mayan Chica - San Pedro la Laguna Photo, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala More Photos
Quote: Despite a reputation for harboring old hippies and hosting late-night raves, San Pedro is a peaceful little village that can offer a respite from the increasing crowds and increasing prices that herald Antigua’s (and even Panajachel’s) entry onto the beaten path with their growing number of tourists.

A Month on Lake Atitlán

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Overview

Mayan Chica - San Pedro la Laguna Photo, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Quote:
Located on the Southwestern shore of Lago de Atitlán, San Pedro is home to the Tzutuhil Maya and a sprinkling of colorful ex-pat North Americans and Europeans who have also set up shop here. San Pedro has no colorful market geared towards tourists like neighboring Panajachel. (There is a market here, but it targets the locals and their day-to-day needs). There are no impressive examples of Spanish-influenced architecture or old churches, the main building materials here are cinder block and corrugate steel sheeting. And tourism-based infrastructure in San Pedro is limited to local initiatives by a few hoteliers and entrepreneurial Mayans. What San Pedro can offer is relaxed way to t...Read More
Quote:
For those of you who prioritize clean sheets over a bargain, I would strongly recommend Hotel San Francisco. There are pricier hotels in San Pedro, but value-for-Quetzal here is pretty good. You can get a simple room with a bed or a mini-apartment with a kitchenette relatively cheap - all with views of the lake. The family running the place was also very friendly.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 11, 2004

Hospedaje San Francisco
Zona 4
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Casa Rosario

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Hotel

Casa Rosario Photo, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Quote:
The rooms at Casa Rosario are dark, dank, and not the cleanest by developed world standards. The "solar water heater" for the shower (this is what Guatamaltecos call it when the water tank is on the roof) left a little something to be desired, but at approximately US$ 2.50 night (at the exchange rate in Spring 2000), that seemed ot be the going rate at every posada in town that catered to the budget traveller. If you want a freshly painted white room with a view of the lake, you naturally have to pay more. There is a clean kitchen in Casa Rosario where you can prepare your own food purchased at the mercado or one of the many family-run tiendas in the neighborhood. I forewen...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on September 11, 2004

Casa Rosario
4 Avenida, Zona 4
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

D'noz

Restaurant

Quote:
D’noz is the most happening evening hot spot in San Pedro. It is located on the top floor of Nick’s Place as you disembark from the launch from Pana. D’noz has it down pat: A mellow and friendly atmosphere, good food, movies, a few chessboards and an endless supply of alcohol. This combination makes it the place to meet other travelers. Movies are shown evenings at 7 pm sharp. I suggest getting there before then in order to get a seat. The food was very good and a very good value. The Caesar Salad is always good, or the Chow Mein washed down with a bottle of Gallo, Guatemala’s leading beer. If there is a power outage (and during the rainy season, there usually is), candles are set up ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 11, 2004

D'noz
Panajachel Embarcadero
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Quote:
The spectacular Volcán San Pedro looms over the village like a benign giant. Although it is actually small in comparision to other peaks and volcanoes in the region, it cuts a breathtaking profile with its lush green ridges and furrows abseiling down its flanks. Even in the evening by a full moon, most of the volcano’s features are easily visible. Nonetheless, I would not recommend hiking the volcano alone, due to the aforementioned baditos. I hiked alone to the top, and encountered no problem, but an English couple I passed on my way down were ambushed soon after. As I reached the bottom, the couple actually raced passed by me - flustered, and completely out of breath. Apparently, one of the...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 11, 2004

Hiking Volcán San Pedro
Western Shore of Lake Atitlán
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Women Picking Coffee Photo, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Quote:
San Pedro can be considered relatively remote in comparison to Panajachel or Antigua. When you compare infrastructure, number of Internet connections, or number of gift shops, this is certainly the case. But because San Pedro does have a fairly constant stream of day visitors and backpackers, I felt compelled to explore the rest of the villages around the lake on foot. It was a welcome break from the backpacking "scene" as well as a great opportunity to interact with the locals without being pressured into buying something. From San Pedro, I left on foot on the road leading out of town that followed the shoreline, heading clockwise around Lago de Atitlán. (Rough Guide Central America has a go...Read More

Tips for Co-existing with the Mayans

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Story/Tip

Happy Hour Photo, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Quote:
Like most travelers on la ruta maya, the colors and pageantry that I associated with the Mayan culture and its history compelled me to make Guatemala the main stop on my travels through Central America. The 22 language sub-groups that make up the Mayans in Guatemala have survived 300 years of Spanish occupation, followed by uprisings, coups, countercoups, insurgencies and counterinsurgencies that continued up through the 1990s. Any butcher’s bill that had to be paid during these violent times was normally paid in great part by the Mayans. Through sheer determination, their identity and traditions have remained stubbornly intact – albeit with their populations decimated. Between the official...Read More

Co-existing with the Mayans, Part II

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Story/Tip

Quote:
The Civil War in Guatemala ended in 1996. There are no physical scars to see anymore, but the emotional scars still run deep. For the casual traveler in Guatemala, it will not be noticeable. For the Mayans I spoke with, the memories and wounds became apparent. This is something I only learned after spending more time in San Pedro. After a few weeks of Spanish classes, my instructor, Jose, opened up to me about it. He explained to me how as a child he cowered in the corner of his parents’ cinder block home at night. Soldiers would noisily amble through the town - sometimes drunk - enforcing curfew and the "lights out" policy. Any home that still had a candle lit was lucky if the soldiers only heav...Read More
Bienvinidos! Photo, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Quote:
Like many towns in Guatemala that now have regular tourist trade, San Pedro has a few language schools offering Spanish lessons. These are not the well-organized language "institutes" found in Costa Rica or Antigua, where savvier, Internet-connected schools offer well-structured courses and the opportunity to live with a local family. Many schools in Antigua offer not only a language course, but also cultural trips, and even airport pick-up – all at a substantial premium, of course. This is not necessarily a put-down of San Pedro – quite the contrary. It means that learning Spanish in San Pedro can be a far sight cheaper than Antigua. For someone who is willing sort out transportation for themselv...Read More