Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Posted by Scot

With the boat out of the water, we faced the decision to either live in a dusty, hot boatyard for two weeks, or take the opportunity to tour around Guatemala a bit.  Actually, there was no decision at all.  We had already planned to see some of Guatemala, and the fact we could get some boat work done while we were at it was an added bonus.

Once we were sure Monashee was securely supported and the work would go ahead as planned, we headed for the hills.  Literally.  A taxi picked us up right next to our boat in the yard, and zipped us over to the Litegua bus depot in Fronteras.

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Waiting for the bus in Fronteras.
The surprisingly modern Litegua bus.
The bus was reasonably modern, and even had a little weak air conditioning.  We sat right in the front, but actually couldn’t see much of the road, since there were big curtains down across the upper half of the front windows, presumably to keep the sun out.  We could see enough, though, to figure out we were passing lots of big trucks on solid yellow lines around tight bends.  Probably just as well that we couldn’t see much more.

The Guatemala countryside was beautiful and green.  We crossed lots of low lying mountains and hills on windy, two lane roads.  At each stop, the doorway was filled with locals yelling up into the bus, selling fresh cut fruit wrapped in cellophane.

As the hours went by and the road wound away underneath us, the kids stayed amused by watching the videos that the driver’s assistant put on.  First was G.I. Joe Retaliation.  Even funnier than the original when it is all in Spanish.  Although I don’t think it was supposed to be a comedy.  Jack Reacher followed, but since it had a lot more dialogue, it wasn’t as much fun to watch.

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Sitting at the front of the bus, waiting for another pass on a solid double yellow.
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We can't tell what they're saying, but with GI Joe, it doesn't really matter.
After five hours, we reached Guatemala City.  It is by far the largest city we have been in since we left Fort Lauderdale.  We were glad we didn’t have to drive through the narrow cobblestoned streets ourselves.  In among the typical Central American decay that we are getting used to seeing, we were surprised to see some modern looking malls, complete with multi theatre cinemas.  The kids were also intrigued to note several McDonald’s and Taco Bells.  Something else we haven’t seen since Florida.

The bus station is right in the middle of the what appears to be the pinata district of town.  There were dozens of pinata stores, all decorated with their colorful hand-made wares hanging in front.  The work was remarkable.  You could buy a pinata of pretty much anything.  All the classic, and not-so-classic kid’s characters were represented.  We saw Dora the Explorer, Buzz Lightyear, Planes from the movie Planes, Cars from Cars, and on and on.  Guatemalan kids must do a lot of pinata whacking.

As soon as we got off the bus, Trinidad, the driver we had booked to take us to Panajachel, found us.  I think we were pretty easy to spot – no other families of five getting off the bus.

So, once again we hit the road, this time in his minivan, heading back up into the hills, bound for Lake Atitlan.  The Saturday traffic was crazy getting out of the city, and the first hour or so was stop and go all the way.  Once again, we were glad we weren’t driving ourselves.

After three more hours, we descended the steep hill down out of the mountains into Panajachel, on the shores of Lake Atitlan.  We were really happy to see how nice the guest house Sara had booked was.  Exhausted from the trip,and the excitement of the last few days, we were all happy to envision just hanging out in a real house, with plumbing and electricity, and catching up on some rest.

Welcoming guest house.  What a treat!
It even has a little garden.
And a real kitchen.  With runnig water and electrity!
After a solid night’s sleep, we were feeling a bit more energetic.  Sara and I borrowed the bikes that are included with the guest house, and headed into Panajachel to do a little exploring and shopping.  The kids stayed behind and played Risk.

Ready to explore.

The kids were pretty happy just to hang out and play Risk.
Panajachel is a great little town.  Touristy enough to make shopping easy, and have lots of good restaurants, but not so touristy as to lose some of the real Guatemalan flavour.  It is wonderful to see all the traditional costumes worn by the locals as they go about their daily business.  And the city is hopping, all the time.  You can get anywhere in a Tuk-tuk for the equivalent of about 90 cents per person.  It is pretty exciting squeezing all five of us into one of these tiny little converted motorbikes, and bouncing along the cobbled streets.

We are going to have lots of fun relaxing and exploring here for the next few days.

A lot of the locals wear traditional Guatemalan dress.
Taking the kids to the Sunday market...
... where you can get cotton candy...
.... helados (ice cream)....
... ride in a tuk-tuk...
... or buy some fruit and carry it home on your head.
Sara hasn't gotten the hang of carrying things on her head yet.
Can I get a tuk-tuk to the market, please?

1 comment:

  1. I am so jealous of your real kitchen! Also yay bikes. I continue to be amazed at how similar that part of the world is to the part of the world we're in. Why don't we have tuk tuks and bustling markets in Canada?