November 3, 2012
I was wrong, the bus we took from Antigua to Panajachel on Lake Atitlan was a chicken bus. The chickens had to ride on top of the bus, however. Not only do the extravagant paint jobs brighten up and differentiate the old school buses, they also make them go about ten times faster. Ideal for zipping round blind bends on mountain roads. The driver tries to keep the bus moving at all times, even while passengers hop aboard or jump off. There are also no delays while the ticket guy puts the larger items of luggage on the roof with the chickens - he simply climbs onto the roof with the luggage while the bus is still moving and then climbs back down into the bus through the back door. In fact he kept popping up to the roof - maybe he was feeding the chickens too?
We're now spending a lazy week on the eastern shore of Lake Atitlan in a small town called San Antonio Palopo. Since the tourist season hasn't really picked up yet, we're the only guests at what would probably be called a boutique hotel in North America, the Hotel Nuestro Sueno. Unfortunately the shower head in our room broke the first time we tried to use it and, after a heavy rain shower on the first night, the roof leaked a little. So, we're now in a grander room with an even more impressive view of the lake.
So far while we've been here we've eaten some fine breakfasts and dinners at the hotel, explored the town, gone kayaking on the lake, eaten chocolate-covered frozen bananas and strawberries on a stick, and flown kites along with half the town during the All Saints' Day holidays. Some of the kites flown by the townspeople had a diameter of at least 10 feet.
Today we ventured out of town and rode in the back of an open pickup truck to Panajachel, where we caught a public lancha (small motorboat) to San Pedro on the opposite side of the lake below the volcano of the same name (one of three volcanos ringing the lake).
It turns out that San Pedro isn't much of a place to visit unless you're an aged (or not so aged) hippie or are looking for a Spanish language school. Still, it was a good day out and we had a great, very filling lunch at Cafe La Puerta, where we sat outside right by the lake. Whereas the boat out had taken an age, the boat back to Panajachel fairly whizzed though the water at a tremendous speed, giving the girls quite a thrill. We had a bit more trouble catching a pickup back to San Antonio as a sudden downpour seemed to dry up the supply of pickups going our way. We finally managed to find one and squeezed into the back with another twenty-odd people (who knew little Toyota pickups could haul so many people at one time?). The sun was setting as we made it back to our hotel.