Thursday, January 19, 2012

Guatemala Day 4: San Pedro & The Mayan Face

On Day 4 we packed up our gear and went down to the lake to get on a public boat to cross Lake Atitlan. Our destination was the town of San Pedro la Laguna and we had a date with a mountain!! After some heckling we finally gave in and paid the price for a private boat to get us there more quickly.
View of one of the many boat docks in Panajachel and Volcano Atitlan in the distance. Took about 20-30 minutes to cross the lake.

When we arrived in San Pedro, we walked around and luckily found our hostel (Zoola) very quickly. We got our rooms, changed and were off to climb our mountain!

We found our hiking guide in San Pedro and most groups take a shuttle, tuk-tuk or bus up to the starting point on the mountain....but oh, no not us. We somehow agreed to walk the entire way there. This added 2.5-3 extra miles to our hike. (We felt it later...)

We walked to our guide's building, which was on the edge of San Pedro where he grabbed his machete and gear. We also snapped one of our first pictures of our beautiful mountain. It's called Indian's Nose (or the more politically correct version- The Mayan Face) because it looks like a face laying on its side. The highest point being the tip of the nose.

Our guide was amazing and very informative. He stopped along the way and showed us the coffee beans that were drying. Poor Rob had to translate a lot of this for me since I was the weakest link with my Spanish. :-)

We took the back roads from San Pedro to San Juan, another small town on Lake Atitlan. Here we are looking back on San Pedro. Beautiful view.

Here's another picture of the mountain a little bit closer. We didn't scale the front, which would have been horribly difficult. We came in from the left side of this picture, hiked the flat portion, then up the forehead and nose.

And here is a photo of the face from the start of that flat part. Doesn't look so bad from here.

Photo from the start of the flat part, overlooking Lake Atitlan. Our guide was funny. He had a daughter named Raquel and so he and I became buddies. Since I was the only person in our group who had never been to a higher altitude, this hike was really rough for me. I was in shape, but not acclimatized. Everytime I would breathe, it was like I was only getting half a breath. So I was huffing and puffing like a fat kid in gym class all the way up. Our guide used his machete and made us walking sticks! Saved. my. life. :-)

Almost there! View of Volcano Atitlan from the forehead of the mountain. From here on out, this climb was brutal.

I called this the "Door to Heaven", because I felt like I was dying. The climb from the forehead to the nose was absolutely brutal for me, but so worth it!

Finally made it! What a view!

Kappa Alpha Theta!

We stayed at the top of the mountain for about 20 minutes, took lots of pictures, Kim nearly fell off (seriously, she did a jumping action shot and felt backwards a bit scaring the beejeezus out of everyone). We began our decent down the back of the mountain and into the town of Santa Clara. It was much smaller and had some killer steep roads that my legs were not happy about.
By this time we were absolutely starving so our guide took us to his favorite comedor for food. We had chicken, rice, tortillas and a cold salad that none of us should have eaten....but it all tasted so delicious!

Walking all the way back to San Pedro would have been insane, so we thought we were going to take a shuttle. When our guide told us to follow him onto a chicken bus packed to the gills with people, we were shocked! First chicken bus experience for KyleAnne too! It wasn't that bad, but none of us would have gotten on there without the guide.

Back in San Pedro we bee-lined to our hostel and immediately grabbed a drink and relaxed by the pool with a gorgeous view of Lake Atitlan. I think we were all asleep by 9:00pm.

Next post: Day 5 & 6: Santiago, San Marcos and back home

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