I love Guatemala. It has a unique combination of nature, culture, people and traditions and it is a perfect country if you have little time. Ideally 10 to 12 days is a good time to see most of its attractions: Antigua, Atitlan, Chichicastenango, Semuc Champey, Tikal and Rio Dulce/Livingston.
So for my third time there, I did a few of the ‘classics’ with Solen, one of my best travel friend.
First stop: Antigua!
Walking around in its colonial streets and climbing Pacaya Volcano. Last time I had been there was in 2010, 3 months before its eruption. At the time we could see lava moving, get our shoe soles burnt and eat some marshmallows.
Well you don’t see the lava anymore but the rest yes, is still there!
Next, Atitlan Lake! I really like this place and always wanted to stay in one if its new age/hippie/good vibes village, San Marcos la Laguna, where you can do lots of yoga and meditation.
The day we arrived the lake was so choppy I had never seen it like that. Anyway, we all went into a small boat and stopped to a few villages en route to San Marcos. We were getting wet by all the waves and everyone was laughing, it was a cool ride.
On our way to San Marcos.
San Marcos. Perfect yoga place.
Atitlan lake is a cool place to kayak and go visit other villages as well that are more traditional than San Marcos. Went to Santiago de Atitlan one day and only saw 3 tourists there. I was the only one on the boat to get there and it is nice to share these moments with locals.
Next: Chichicastenango market!
Every Thursday or Sunday, you can go to Chichicastenango market. It is a nice market up in the mountains where all the ethnies come to see fruits, vegetables and craft. There were a few tourists but there most parts of the market are for locals. Just spend some time walking around and you will find them.
It is actually very easy to travel with local transport if you have a bit of time, travel with a small bag and don’t mind being close to people… There is a reason why they call it ‘chicken bus’!
So here I went from Chichicastenango to Quetzaltenango. 2 vans, 2 chicken buses, and 3 usd later I had reached Xela/Quetzaltenango. Very fun and cheap.
On my way back to Antigua though, the ride in the chicken bus was much longer with the rain not helping.
We were squeezed, 7 people sitting on when you are supposed to be only 4, 80’s and 90’s music full on which was fun, people starting to fall asleep everywhere in the bus after a few hours, and I started to smell burnt plastic… Ok, so right now, we are in the middle of mountains with very low visibility.
After a while I realize this is our bus indeed, because the smell is still there, so I ask my neighbour if it is a tire that has exploded, and he replies: ‘Oh no, it is the brakes!’
(…) no comment!
But we made it. Still alive! The adventure continues.