The first hours in the capital Guatemala City were for my female security needs a little too much. Even without knowing that the city has about 40 murders a week making it one of the most dangerous cities in Central America, the presence of pump guns every five feet gave me an uneasy feeling. Being puzzled why motorcyclists wear their license plate on the back and on the helmet we asked our taxi driver. He told us that due to the many armed robberies by pairs of motorcyclists and therefore only single bikers with visible numbers on the vest and helmet are allowed on the streets. What a start!
The next day we caught an early bus to Panajachel, Lago Atitlan. We drove for about four hours in an overcrowded bus through the evergreen landscape of Guatemala, clinging to our backpacks. The first view of the lake was breathtaking.
In the background of the dark blue crater lake rose to three large volcanic cones, whose tips were hanging in the clouds. In Panajachel, we boarded a boat which took us over the rather stormy lake to San Pedro de Laguna. There we quickly found a nice and cheap school. We were also immediately placed with a local Mayan family, which provided housing, food and of course conversation opportunities. The entire costs per person including 4 hours of private lessons for 5 days per week came to 120 $. Unbelievable!
The village itself was very safe and had a strong focus on backpacker tourists. That is, there were many small bars and restaurants with happy hour and daily film program. But because of the good and plentiful meals of our Abuela (Spanish for Grandma), we hardly ate outside and due to the morning school and the homework we visited the bars usually only on weekends. In between, we were busy swimming in the lake (although it is no longer quite so clean), visited the local market and a chocolate “factory” and went with Abuela in the church to sing.
Furthermore, San Pedro’s “house volcano” waiting for his ascent … This, about 2,700 m high, summit offered itself almost every day to our eyes and we quickly decided to climb it. The local travel agencies advised, however, not to climb it alone, as there had already been attacks on tourists. So we booked a tour guide. The view from the volcano, however, compensated for all the inconveniences and annoyances.
The fourth week of the language classes I skipped. Instead I helped our neighbors including the lamp crafts and went for three days to the other side of the lake to San Marco. There we had already a course completed in Swedish massage the week before. Now I wanted to learn more and visited a beautiful glass art school and a yoga and meditation center.
After this wonderful and relaxing time on Lake Atitlan, it went into the historic city of Antigua and to the east coast to Livingston.