At the dock in Panajachel, the major town on Lake Atitlan, we hauled our luggage down the stony grade where the ferry boats were moored. And were met by a fellow intent on getting us quickly to our hotel. And the only way to get to any hotel, any village, anywhere on the lake, was by boat.
“Twenty-five U.S. dollars and you are at hotel in fifteen minutes.”
“No, thank you. We’ll take the public ferry. Gracias.”
“You will wait one hour, maybe more!”
“It’s a nice day. The public ferry is six dollars. We’ll wait.”
Ten minutes later we were on the public ferry with all the locals, mostly Mayans in traditional dress, hip to hip, sailing across the lake. Ten minutes after that we pulled onto the dock that serves as entrance to Casa Del Mundo. Here, this will give you a better idea of what it means to land a boat at your hotel:
Perched on the side of a very steep cliff, the hotel was a wonder in every way: architectural, engineering, design aesthetic, and hospitality. We fell in love the moment we arrived. But love is often cruel: We then had to walk 100+ steps up, up, and up. Just to get to the lobby. Luckily, our room was just above, only another twenty or so steps. Casa Del Mundo is a magical place. The grounds are lush, wild, as if you were making your way through a well-tended jungle. Which we later found out from the (American) owner that is exactly how he and his (Guatemalan) wife planned it.
We got to the top of the stairs, fumbled our way into our room, and were taken by surprise once again. There was just no way to prepare for the view from the balcony.
Yeah, I guess we’ll keep this room if we have to. Virginia loved the decor, very Guatemalan but not kitschy, filled with artwork, fabrics, masks, textiles and tile work with all the vivid native colors and textures. Outside our room was a courtyard with an amazing view of the lake front on east side of the hotel. That’s someone’s house in the distance. Inside had large windows and comfortable beds, chairs, tables…and all with views. Of course, this was the best view, morning, noon or night. Plus, we had a friend who helped keep the bathroom clean.
We made it! The Mayan village in Santa Cruz.
But then we had to hike back! We thought we had it rough until we saw these women and children resting along side the road. As you will see, others took the easy way back to the village. Tuk tuk!
Post-hike, much well-earned snoozing was involved. After we rested and explored the majestic, sacred lake for almost five days, we decided to take a day trip. That’s when things turned strange. So much so that I have to stop here. I need to break out another post, just for our experience in the town of Chichicastenango, home of the largest and oldest running outdoor market in Central America. Things went from odd to bizarre while we were in the bazaar. You’re not going to believe some of the things we heard about and saw there. Mayan priests, medicine men, blood sacrifices. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! Kidding. It is coming in the next post. Stay tuned. Please?