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A Weekend in Panajachel

By SammyK on Tue, Oct 7th 08 at 10:25AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

We had one heckofa weekend. We went to a place called Panajachel. Panajachel has a lake called Atitlan. It is huge. Very grande. And around the edges are many volcanoes. It was quite beautiful.

We went with some new friends from CSA which is the language school we went to last week. The two-hour van ride from Antigua to Panajachel was just $5. As soon as we stepped out of the van, we got swarmed by people trying to sell us something.

I really wasn't in the mood to have a bunch of people shove something in my face and asked me if I wanted to buy it. But I understand their circumstance and tried to be as compassionate as possible. We had several of these people follow us around and would tell us that we could stay at certain hotels for about $5 a night. Lies. Most of the ones they told us to go to were at least $20 or $30 a night. Which is still a great deal, but when you're on a $15 a day budget, $5 is the only affordable hotel stay.

For some reason we kept trusting in this one shady character who kept trying to get us to take his boat across the lake. There were about 7 of us which is about how many seats this guy had on his boat. He eventually coaxed us into taking his boat across the lake for 25Q apiece (about $3.33). I thought it was for a round-trip ticket, but it was one-way. If we wanted round-trip tickets, we had to pay it all up front - the full $6.66.

I didn't trust this guy as far as I could throw him. He could just take cash and leave us stranded on the other side of the lake. He told us that he had to report the money to the office and all that and that's why he needed all the money up front. He wasn't even the one driving the boat - but two kids. We eventually just trusted him to not take us for granted.

We got to the other side of the lake and ate 3 amazing tacos for lunch for only $1.33. We walked around the market a while and headed back to the dock in hopes that we'd find the the two kids with our boat out there waiting for us to take us back across the lake. I didn't see him anywhere. But then one of the guys with us, Brandon spotted our boat at the dock. It was a relief.

It was getting kind of dark when we got back to the other side of the lake and started eating dinner. We ate at a place called Sunset Cafe which had an amazing view of the lake and volcanoes. Afterwards we went to a local celebration of some Saint or something. That's went the night got exciting for me.

The front of the old Catholic church was jam-packed with people. In the center of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd was a large opening were people were dancing merengue. Many were completely drunk and barely able to stand up straight. A friend of ours Doug and I had no problems just jumping right in the middle of the dancing circle and taking a few cute Guatemalan girls from the crowd of spectators and dancing it up.

Eventually we met up with some cute German girls who were also having no problems dancing amidst the locals. Now, for those of you who know me, I really love the German language. I'm also really obsessed with dancing. So when a cute German girl named Kathi comes up to me and shows me this cool Bavarian dance and we start to dance it, I'm in heaven. And that's just what we did.

Afterwards the CSA group and our new German friends went to a cafe and talked a bit more and Kathi and I danced a bit more. It was the best time I've had on the trip so far. Kathi was telling me about Octoberfest in Germany and she said that each town has their own little Octoberfest throughout the year. I was hoping that when we get to Germany we'd be able to go to one of the little Octoberfests.

Now we're back in Antigua for a few days. We're going to be leaving for Santiago, Chile next week.


Ryan wrote on October 7th 08 at 11:40AM
Good times!
Braeden wrote on October 7th 08 at 04:20PM
The picture I get from your blog//

amazing man! good times indeed!
Aunt Liz wrote on October 7th 08 at 04:32PM
Sam -- it's so cool to read about your adventures. Be safe and be blessed!
Yancey wrote on October 12th 08 at 11:07PM
Hey guys I'm following your trip, to bad you'll be in Chile when I arrive fom Los Angeles to Guatemala in November. Let's stay in touch, I'll like to get a copy of the Guatemala the way the goat milk scene....that's really sick!....warm goat milk...ugh!
Take care guys,
The incredible story of how two recent college grads are traveling around the world on an impossible budget.
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