Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Second Pass Through Guatemala


We took off from Hotel El Canja in Chiquimula and drove all the way to Antigua. Fortunately, most of the highway was a four-lane, divided highway, which made the long drive easier. We even had enough time left by the time we arrived to arrange to get some laundry done and do some shopping. Colonial cities are interesting—there are tons of churches, cobblestoned streets, uniformity to the buildings.


Although there is plenty of things to do in and around Antigua, we only stayed the night. We had already seen a lot of volcanoes, etc.


We went shopping for a few items, including a stop at the chocolate museum. We sampled their chocolates. I only tried the white chocolate, but I discovered I am not a fan, about the only white chocolate I can stand is that which coats Reese’s white chocolate peanut butter cups and Hershey’s special edition white chocolate and cranberry bar. Jonathan tells me that is more sugar and fat than any chocolate, which would explain it. On the way back, we passed a delicious-smelling bakery, where I picked up some banana-nut bread.

We stayed at the Asistur (tourist police) complex. They allow RVers to camp there for free, although donations are accepted. The place had a bit of a rough quality to it, though. Kinda looked like the block had been burned down before it was inherited by the tourist police.


Our morning had started off poorly when the front, swivel fan stopped working—at least usefully. It would turn on only in specific directions, like straight down, which wasn’t helpful. Handyman that my husband is, though, when we got to Antigua for lunch, he pulled off the fan, diagnosed the problem and fixed it. Later, with a vengeance,  he also removed the obnoxious reflective stickers we had to have for Honduras.



While we were there, some place in Antigua seemed to shoot off something every hour. At first we thought it was a bomb, or something, it was that loud. But as no one seemed to react to it, we figured they were just target shooting guns. Then we discovered that it would happen at about every hour. As we began our workout that evening, they started shooting a display of fireworks from the same location from which the sounds had been coming. Not sure if July 15 is special to Antigua or Guatemala, but the display was nice, if a bit loud.


From Antigua, we headed to Lago de Atitlán. Instead of following CA1, we followed the JED's (the GPS) instructions to a more “direct” route. I don’t know if it can be claimed to be shorter with all the switchbacks we went on that weren’t on the GPS route, but it wasn’t too bad. It did eventually degrade to a dirt-road mountain pass, but it wasn’t near as bumpy or as narrow as the road we took to Semuc Champey, so were good.

Atitlán is apparently a lake formed a long time ago from a crater of a volcano. Driving along the rim of the old volcano, it is incredible to think that there was volcano big enough to create this six-mile-diameter lake. I know there has been erosion and all that, but still…That is one large volcano!

DSC04863 In the background, you can see two more volcanoes (with much smaller craters).

Although Aldous Huxley has described Atitlán as the most beautiful lake in all the world (it is beautiful), I personally would say that Lago de Yojoa in Honduras was prettier. That didn’t keep me from exploring its pretty shores from my kayak.


That evening, we decided to eat out at Hotel Atitlán, supposedly the most elegant place to eat in Panajachel. The food was mediocre, but the view and the gardens were great. Unfortunately, it started raining as we finished eating. We waited as long as we dared, but the rains showed no sign of letting up, so we had to walk the kilometer back to our camping spot in the rain. Weren’t completely drenched, but we were pretty soaked by the time we got back.



We had planned on crossing into México on Wednesday, but I had apparently underestimated the time and distance to the border and to the next camping spot. So instead, we decided to make a stop in Huehuetenango, visit the Zaculeo ruins, and camp.

The ruins weren’t large or impressive, especially for the price—Q50pp (US$6.28). The only thing they have going for them is that they are shaped a bit different than the ones that we have seen so far. Very angular. We ended up staying here for the night, they even let us park inside with the ruins, and I got a great view of the sunset from the top of one of the temples.



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