Trip to Panachajel    ( Monday 02/14 - Tuesday 02/15 )

On the day I had left Burlington, we had a big snowstorm there, so I had my doubts that I'll be able to catch my flight, but it just had 20min delay so everything worked out fine. After a short stopover in Washington DC and Mexico City (where we had to switch planes) I arrived shortly after midnight in San José / Costa Rica. There I did take a cab to a Hotel, where I had booked a room, than slept for 5 hours. At 7am I got up and back to the airport to get on my flight to Guatemala City.
In respect I would say that I might should have stayed at the airport overnight to spare me from driving to and back to the Hotel. On the other hand the good thing about having a room for the few hours was, that I was sure that my luggage was save - so I was able to catch some sleep - which on the airport most likely wouldn't have been possible.
typical bus for Guatemala
I did arrive at 11am in Guatemala City and was happy that my backpack had there arrived with me. Since I had decided to go on straight into the Highlands of Guatemala to Panajachel which is beautiful located on the Lago de Atitlán, I did take a cab to go to Guatemala Cities downtown to the busstation of "Rebuli" ( 21 Calle en Zona 1 ). And I had luck, because 15 min Panajachel: Calle Santander after I had arrived there ( at 12pm ) the next Bus ( one of these old american schoolbuses - colorful painted ) to Panajachel left - perfect timing! So I gave one of the "bus - guys" my backback so he could pack it onto the busroof and got into the bus. The drive - main distance was on the "Panamerica" - took 3 1/2 hours to get to Panajachel. I got off at the main bus stop in Pana ( short for Panajachel: Calle Real Panajachel - that's also what you'll see written on the bus - they use alway's the shortforms of cities! ), which is at the corner of Calle Real / Calle Santander.
Pana ( 1560 m ) also got the nickname "Gringotenango" ( place of the foreigners ), since it's a place long known to tourists. In the 60's and 70's it was crowded with laid-back travellers, "hippies". Calle Santander is for travellers the "main road", most of the hospedajes / Garden of the Spanish School Jabel Tinamit hotels, restaurants, shops, internet cafes ... etc are located here. Two days before I had left Burlington I was searching online for a spanish school and found in Pana the school Jabel Tinamit, so the first thing I did in Pana was going to this school, just take the first possible turn left off Calle Santander ( there's a sign ). Gregorio, the school director, did My home in Pana welcome me, than he told me that there isn't a free place to stay with a family, but he did find an apartment for me in a house in Calle Frutales. So he brought me to the place and afterwards went back to the school. I first unpacked my stuff and than decided to go down to the shore of the Lago de Atitlán. For dinner I went to the Sunset Cafe, it's located at the end of Calle Santander, it has an open terrace with great views of the lake ( meals are between $3 - $5, snacks are less ). There I met Tracy, she was with me on the bus from Guatemala City, and we went for a few drinks to the Circus Bar / La Posada del Pintor, where they had live music.

Panajachel & Santiago Atitlán    ( Wednesday 02/16 - Friday 02/15 )

At 7am my alarm clock did ring - pretty "cruel" during a vacation, but I had to get up to get to school.    ;-)
Pana's shore of Lago de Atitlán The great thing about the school Jabel Tinamit was, that they are very flexible, so I was able Lago de Atitlán in the morning sun to start my lessons in the middle of the week. You can also choose between 4,5 or 6 hours a day, I decided to take only 4 hours from 8am to noon, since than I still had the whole afternoon to do different things. Back in the school Gregorio introduced me to Brenda, my teacher for the week. So we did sit down the the beautiful garden of the school and started the lesson. I had learned a bit spanish before - 7 yrs back in Germany in evening school - so I knew the basics. My goal Parade of school kids in Pana was just that I refreshed my vocabulary and got more comfortable again talking spanish. At the time I studied at the school there were 3 more "estudiantes" & their teachers - so it's a nice small school. In the afternoon I strolled through Pana and went swimming in the lake. I stopped by one of many Internet Cafes on Calle Santander to write friend and family a few words - for Parade of school kids in Pana 30 Minutes online I had to pay about $1 (10 GTQ). On Thursday during schooltime we had heard music from the street, so we went to Calle Real to see a small parade of school kids, dressed in the beautiful, colorful, guatemalan textiles. In the afternoon I learned some vocabulary and relaxed again on the lake. On Friday after school I took a boot (at 1pm ) across the Lago de Atitlán to the small town of Santiago Atitlán, located between the two volcanos Tolimán and San Pedro. I arrived there at 2pm and had only one hour there, since the last boat left already at 3pm. So I had just time to walk up to the main square and it's church. I had hoped that the market day was still going on, but for that I was to late, obviously it ended around noon and they where just cleaning up. A kid did ask me if it should show me the way to "Maximón", which is a mayan deity, found every year in another local home. But I was already running out of time and had to get back to the harbor. Too bad, one hour, is simply to less time for this small town.

Harbor of Santiago Atitlán Main Square of Santiago Atitlán Street from the main square to the harbor of Santiago Atitlán


All photographs contained on this site are Copyright   -   2001 Tina Leidinger


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