Posted by: Jack | December 1, 2007

Guatemala – San Pedro, San Juan and San Pablo

Awaking from a much needed nap, we felt refreshed and excited to be staying put for three days. In the previous nine we had been to ten cities; a couple of them more than once. Slowing things down a bit at this point was fine with us.

On the way to our hotel we had passed a number of nicer restaurants that looked as if they catered to the tourist scene by offering gourmet meals, fancy coffee drinks and free movies nightly. Young Australians and Europeans were everywhere. We consumed about half of a massive spaghetti dinner at one restaurant and then sat down for hot chocolate and Donnie Darko at another. The movie ended around midnight, making this easily our latest night on the trip thus far.

Despite the late night, we woke early the following morning and were well rewarded as the sun rose over the mountains at the far side of the lake. The mountain centered in this photo is Volcán Tolimán and the nearer mountain on the right is Volcán San Pedro. Between and beyond them, only the peak of the much taller and larger Volcán Atitlán can be seen.

Moments later I took this next photo from the window of our $2/night room.

Conveniently, there were stairs (as seen on the left of the photo above) which lead to more stairs which then lead to the roof of our building. From there we enjoyed an uninterrupted panorama of the lake for the duration of the sunrise.

 

Hitting the town to explore and find breakfast, we came upon a trail near the water’s edge which provided access to a wide variety of farmland, resorts and other services. The following three photos were taken within 20 feet of each other. The first features Volcán San Pedro.

At the end of this trail we found a small comedor where we relished in a breakfast with no beans, no eggs and no tortillas. The coffee still wasn’t great.

Satisfactorily refueled, we decided to take a hike to the neighboring towns. Buying some super cheap snacks from the market and finding the only road that leads out of town, we made our way towards San Juan. Though much of Guatemala is very Catholic, the towns on this lake seemed especially vehement. Along our walk, nearly every home and business had something like the sign below painted on the walls.

As we made good time curving around to the North side of the lake, we discovered great views of San Pedro and the volcanoes.

Just before reaching San Pablo, our turn around point for this hike, two young boys on the street noticed my camera and insisted that I take their photo. It seems only right that I give them some Internet publicity as well.

All along this road, and filling practically every acre surrounding the lake, were farms growing a variety of crops; one of which was coffee.

When we finally reached San Pablo, we could see why tourists generally stick to San Pedro. The only thing that seemed to be happening here was locals spreading firewood out under the hot sun to dry. Despite decent roads and numerous trucks in the area, much of this wood is transported from miles away on the backs and heads of very small but amazingly strong people. Though you’d never guess it by Anna’s towering over them at about five feet tall, the two locals in the photo below are not children.

We returned to our room in San Pedro as three hours of hiking under the hot sun began to wear us down. Our hotel had a modest kitchen — a propane camp stove and some dishes — so we decided to see if we could prepare a dinner that might offer a bit more flavor and substance than the typical Guatemalan fare. Mixing some garlic and mushrooms into the last night’s leftover spaghetti and adding a side of fresh rolls with guacamole (which we also made), we managed to produce the best meal of the trip…at least until this point. And the whole meal cost about 25 cents each. Sitting outside, we ate by candlelight as the sun set and despite stuffing ourselves to a state of discomfort, we still had leftover spaghetti.

Back at D’Noz, the restaurant where we had spent the previous evening, we enjoyed some good beer and Hot Fuzz (highly recommend this movie). Afterwards, I returned to the roof of our hotel to capture an appropriate end to a very photogenic day.

Turning in late again, we tried to cram some sleep into the few hours before the adventure that would come early the next morning.

Dark green line on the Progress Map

Next: Volcán San Pedro

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Responses

  1. […] Next: San Pedro on Lago de Atitlán […]

  2. […] Guatemala – San Pedro, San Juan and San PabloThough much of Guatemala is very Catholic, the towns on this lake seemed especially vehement. Along our walk, nearly every home and business had something like the sign below painted on the walls. As we made good time curving around to … […]

  3. This article allowed me to recollect a great tour there.

  4. Ugh. This post is a perfect example of culturally insensitive White people:
    1) “The coffee still wasn’t great”
    2) “Nothing was happening except for laying out some firewood”
    3) “wanted to see if we could prepare a dinner that might offer a bit more flavor and substance than the typical Guatemalan fare”

    Be grateful for the generous people who allowed you to come into their country and take advantage of THEIR resources and RESPECT their culture and humanity!

    • Please explain which part is culturally insensitive.

      The coffee was not great. I’m not going to lie about that. The high quality coffee is exported, not served locally.

      San Pablo is not a tourist destination.

      Typical Guatemalan fare is not very flavorful or substantial.

      These are all facts, not judgements, many of which come from Guatemala being a very poor country. You need to open up your mind and realize that reality trumps political correctness.


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