Reflections on Guatemala

26 May
Lago Atitlan

Lago Atitlan

I’m not going to write some sad post about the state of Guatemala.  I’m not going to talk about poverty, hardship, or corruption.  I’m not going to write about that because frankly, Guatemala deserves better.  Well, that and The Haysayers didn’t wander too far from the tourist bubble.

La Antigua Guatemala

Street Scene in La Antigua Guatemala

Instead, I’m going to write about how our trip was pretty awesome.  We did as much as we could, with the short time we had.  We hiked Volcan Pacaya, shopped the markets, wandered through towns, napped, ate, swam in Lago Atitlan, and toured the coffee farm, Finca Filidelfia.  We met people on the street, tried to get to know some of our vendors, drank our fair share of Gallo and coffee, and talked government with a bar tender.

View from Casa Elena in San Pedra La Laguna

View from Casa Elena in San Pedra La Laguna

Starting in the historic former capital of Antigua, and continuing over to the hillside villages of Lago Atitlan, allowed for the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation.

The small towns around Lago Atitlan offered hammocks, incredible views, cheap food and leisure.  As we boarded a small boat to cross the lake from Panajachel to San Pedro, I couldn’t help but feel blown away by the three towering volcanoes casting their shadows on the clear water.  It was so easy to just sit around the lake and take it all in.

Arco Santa Catarina

Arco Santa Catarina

Antigua offered wonderful architecture, lining the cobblestone streets.  The town was obviously home to many tourists, and everything comes with them.  There was no shortage of traditionally dressed women hawking their colorful tapestries and jewelry, or Spanish/English menus in the downtown restaurants.  But it was easy to see more than just that side of the city, as it had so much to offer.  We would sit for hours at a time around the Parque Central, watching the children run around in their school uniforms, or the men shinning shoes.

Volcan Pacaya

Volcan Pacaya

It was from Antigua that we headed to one of the surrounding volcanoes for a climb.  The reason everyone chooses Volcan Pacaya, is certainly not easy access or the just mediocre views, but the scene at sunset from the top.  The volcano is very active, offering hikers the opportunity to get a close as they want to the rivers of lava.  At one point I could see the lava flowing beneath my feet.  Needless to say, the bottoms of my shoes will never be the same.

But this trip left me hanging.  Not that I didn’t get what I wanted to out of the trip, because I most certainly did, but it left me longing for so much more.  It made me realize how much I ignore all of the adventure in my every day life.  How I get stuck in this work, go out, do the same thing nearly every week routine.  There is so much more to see in this world.  There are so many more people left for me to meet.  I can say that I’ve been to 15 countries, but how much did I really see in those countries?  I could live in Guatemala for years and still not know what the country is all about.  Reality is, Columbia Heights offers so much more than I realize.  The adventures should start there.

Walkway around Parque Central, La Antigua

Walkway around Parque Central, La Antigua

Parrilla in Panajachel

Parrilla in Panajachel

Bananas on the boat

Bananas on the boat

Cerro de la Cruz, La Antigua

Cerro de la Cruz, La Antigua

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One Response to “Reflections on Guatemala”

  1. M Ho May 26, 2009 at 9:14 pm #

    That is quite inspirational! Those pictures are awesome too! But, there are lots of things offered around here….like Medieval Times! Hopefully, you will be able to experience this soon!

    Here’s a question though – what about the rain forest & zip-lining?

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