Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Visit Guatemala: Part 2

Part 2: The Lengacher's Visit Guatemala

After a few more scintillating days walking the cobblestone streets of Antigua and touring both Common Hope and Aguas de Unidad, and shopping, eating and more shopping (I wish I would have photographed some of the great finds we bought!), the Lengacher 3 were ready to see more. Did I mention that having visitors is always fun, but often exhausting! Even so, we love it. Not only do we get to spend time with the people we love, but we also get to do those fun touristy things that we don't normally partake in

Early Wednesday morning we packed up Dewey, squeezed in all 5 of us and hit the highway, lakeward bound. Not so much fun from my position in the backseat (the road is super windy), we pulled over about 20 minutes from our final destination to enjoy the color sights in Sololá, a traditional Guatmalan town that many tourists pass through, but only a few stop to wander. We were the few. It was actually our 2nd time (the tour guide and I) meandering the streets of Sololá, the first being a long time ago in another life where our handy dandy Dewey did not exist. It's a bumping little town, with the market almost always causing traffic delays and with many sights to be seen out the car window. Not only do many of the women in town use the colorful traditional dress, but many of the men do too - a total rarity in our area of Guatemala!

After a short stroll through the park and market, we headed back down the hill toward our favorite guest adventure locale, Reserva Natural Atitlán, where they hiked and zipped through a canopy of greens. Remember from this visit and this visit? (I unfortunately was not feeling so hot from the car ride and opted this one out, resting patiently under the pavilion with my latest read Animal Vegetable Miracle - more on it later!). But fun was had by the rest and a few even received a certificate to prove it!

Starving by this point in the journey, we moseyed on into Pana (Panajachel) where were dined on some delicious healthy lunches & shopped some more (imagine that!) before boarding our lancha to Tzununa, where we'd be spending the next 2 nights.

We arrived after one of the sloooooowest boat rides I've ever been on (that's what happens what the captain overloads it to make a few extra Q) and then proceeded to climb 450 stairs, straight up with our luggage in tow! When we had nearly reached the top, a few maleteros (bag boys) ran down to help us. Little did we see, but there was a bell down on the dock that we could have rang for assistance. Oh well it was a good workout!

The view from our rooms (which had a solid wall of windows facing the lake) was amazing - even though it was a bit rainy and dreary the first night.

The next morning we hopped in a private lancha and set off for the village Santiago Atitlán, my favorite place to visit on the lake. A very traditional village, most of the locals dress in traje tipical (traditional clothing); brightly colored huipiles (blouses) y cortes (skirts) for the women and calzones (a sort of belted capri pant/short) for the men. Sadly in many parts of Guatemala the men have abandoned their traditional clothing, leaving only the women to carry on the custom, so it's always a treat to see it being used around the lake.

After an uphill stroll we arrived in the center of town where we visited the huge parish church that was constructed between 1572 and 1581, where woooden statues of saints, dressed in clothing fashioned by local women each year, line the walls. The church has 3 alterpieces that together symbolize the three volcanoes around Santiago, which are believed to protect the town and (quite possibly a myth) were the first dry land to rise out of the primordial waters.

From there we took a short truck ride to visit the site of the ever controversial Maximón shrine, a saint who was supposedly rejected from the Catholic church. While the people still believe in God, they also pray to Maximon and believe that both are necessary. Each year Maximón is relocated to a new home voted on by a local committee, where the family receives visitors and collects offerings for their beloved guest. (Due to the steep Q10 fee that is charged for taking a photo, this unofficial trip photographer opted to save her quetzales for something a little more worthwhile - like textiles!)

Speaking of textiles, the group did make sure to stop for a bit of shopping as we made our way back to the water's edge.

Santiago's handicraft scene is most popularly know for the textiles (my absolute favorite colors), paintings (like the one above that we watched the artist create), unique wood carvings (think driftwood style), and elaborately beaded ornaments (like these).

A couple of hours later than we had planned, we reboareded our little lancha and set of for adventure #2.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of The Lengacher's Visit Guatemala....soon (much sooner than part 2!)

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