We arrived late at night in Panajachel, Guatemala…right smack on Lake Atitlan. I walked from cheap hotel to cheap hotel, looking for something that was budget-worthy, and yet had room for all of the kids (including Ethan’s little pop-up tent that goes on the floor). I found this little gem that cost a bit more than I had hoped–but reasonable enough: $450 Quetzales ($57 USD). It was a holiday week, so prices were higher than usual.
I walked into the bathroom, and was surprised to find this contraption in the shower.
It’s called a “suicide shower”…aptly named because of its exposed electrical wires! Ahhh!!!
After checking in, we made our way to the main shopping strip, Santander, which was still alive and bustling with activity.
In the morning, as we were packing up the van, Jared struck up a conversation with the hotel owner. We told him we were looking for a more long-term place later that week (we were on our way to Antigua that day, but would return a few days later), and wanted to stay perhaps 2-3 weeks. He told us that he had another hotel, which was actually his home with rented rooms upstairs (hacienda style–so they all open up to the middle courtyard). He offered us a room for $100 USD per week. WOW! We booked it!
Meanwhile, we jumped in a tuk tuk (a motorcyle cab) and went to find a bank and preview the new hotel (a winner!). The owners of the tuk tuks always love to decorate with unique and stylish painting!
The kids enjoyed their first ride in a tuk tuk!
We were blown away by the large loads on the women’s heads.
Low and behold, the new hotel and bank were within close walking distance to where we began. Oh well!
The alleyway leading to our new hotel was SUPER skinny. The hotel owner told us we could fit our van, but even the tuk tuk made people squeeze to the sides to let him pass.
We went back out to the top of Santander Street, and waited for Jared at the ATM.
Santander Street is full of Guatemala handicrafts that abound with color!
(p.s. I suspect many of these crafts are actually imported from China or other South American countries)
We found a simple joint for lunch, and I admired the unique ceiling.
They also had a fish tank inside. What more does a kid need?
I ordered tofu with an italian sauce. It was actually very good! I knew I had to be in a different country than Mexico…I had choices to eat besides just meat!
Chik Guatemalan clothing…she looks very trendy to me!
After eating lunch, we started the drive from Panajachel to Antigua, Guatemala. Women with their bundles were everywhere…as were men carrying firewood on their backs, strapped on by bands across their forehead.
The drive was EXTRAORDINARILY beautiful! Photos can’t do it justice! It’s as if the highway runs just on the tops of the mountains, and every direction you look there are beautiful mountains with rich green farmland carved into the mountainsides.
We came across a man who had blocked off our lane on the highway, and we wondered why he was watering the ground.
We soon realized that the carpet-building in celebration of Semana Santa was beginning! ”Carpets” are built from pine needles, sawdust, flowers, and fruit…making sometimes simple, or otherwise very intricate murals on the streets! Check out the bag of pine needles this lady is carrying!
We arrived in Antigua, and after some long searching we finally found the villa we had rented to share with our friends from A King’s Life. We had never met them in person before, but we may as well have been old friends with all of our similarities of lifestyle and interests!
We hit the main streets of Antigua in search of some activity, and stumbled upon another Semana Santa children’s parade. They had some simple pine needle carpets decorated with flowers, and we were SOOO very excited to see them in person!
The children were adorable, and very dutiful in their marching down the street.
The children’s family members marched beside them, probably to keep tabs on them!
First, the boys walked by carrying the heavy parade “floats” of Eastern scenes on their shoulders.
Next came the young girls. They have a very interesting way of walking…they bend their legs and walk with a sway. I wish I knew more about it…
I believe the girls are supposed to be mourning the crucifixion of Jesus, but perhaps they were also mourning the weight of the giant box on their shoulders?
We were impressed by the clean-up crew that immediately followed the parade!
Then we wandered to the centro to find some munchies…
We did not stop here, although I had to wonder what these fruits or veggies were…
The main plaza is surrounded by shops and the crowd began to grow…
If you think this is cool…just wait!
You ain’t seen nothing yet! Guatemala is a feast for the eyes!