The next day it was back inland, with more offroad through sugar plantations, to Lago de Atitlán. The lake is situated in the Guatemalan Highlands of the Sierra Madre and the Lonely Planet Guide calls it “the closest thing to Eden on earth”. The change in temperature, from the warm and humid coastline to the crisp cool volcanic mountains surrounding the lake, was quite drastic. We literally ascended into the clouds as we wound our way up and around the steep mountain passes. We were thankful for our windbreakers which up till this point we had been using as bug armour, protection against the multitude of insects ending their brief lives as gooey splats all over our chests, arms, helmets and (my least favourite) faces.
Our first glimpse of the lake was breathtaking. The Lonely Planet description is not far off. It really is something to behold and again, as with so many of the natural wonders we witness on our travels, it cannot be accurately captured in a photograph.
That afternoon we arrived in the lakeside town of Panajachel, in Sololá. Here we stored the motorbike with locals, at a pink hotel, and took a 45min water taxi ride across the lake to one of the little villages on it’s North Western shore. San Marcos is known to be the quietest of the tiny settlements on the lake’s edge. It is home to mostly holistic healing and yoga retreats with a diverse expat community living alongside the local traditional Mayas.
We enjoy the quiet but this place was almost lifeless when we were there. To be fair, it was off season but the people (specifically the expats) weren’t exactly friendly and to be honest, we felt a bit out of place. We stayed at one of the lakeside yoga retreats, in a small dingy room, no running water and a broken toilet… all for a ridiculous price tag. It seems vegan hippie yogis have quite a bit of money to spend on their travels, especially if this was the off season discounted rate.
For dinner we had some of the establishment’s healthy but tasteless veggie vegan soup, and were encouraged to retire early by a rather sad one-man karaoke show. Due to the non-existent running water situation we were unable to shower so we rolled our weary, smelly, sweaty bike and bug beaten bodies directly into bed. Unfortunately, this town is not a destination we would recommend…
our first full view of Lake Atitlan ready to get back on the road with our humble black bag wrapped backpack strapped to the bike’s booty selfie accidentaly taken with a weird fuzzy “bold and the beautiful soapie” style setting. never to be repeated. practicing my signature dance moves, to get the blood flowing back to my butt cheeks view from inside some of the mountain caves on the way up clouds hiding the volcano peaks water taxi across the lake view of the yoga studio you had to pay extra for to use, at the yoga “retreat” at least they found some water for the flowers the best part about the place: a stray dog that insisted on befriending anyone she could find the only thing that worked in the communal bathroom adios San Marcos!