I had been hoping to be able to make one more visit to Chichicastenango before we left Guatemala, but we knew we were not going to attempt the visit with DiploTot and DiploBoy, which meant the chances were looking pretty slim. So needless to say, I was thrilled when DiploMom told me that some other embassy friends were going to be at the Hotel Atitlan and that they were planning to go to Chichicastenango on Sunday since they had never visited before and I was welcome to come along.
We headed out shortly after breakfast on Sunday and I was eagerly anticipating the sights and sounds of the Sunday market. While the market has attracted more tourists, it really exists for the locals, which is why in the midst of booths selling masks and other items, you’ll see groups of women haggling over radishes and onions and others making their way through the crowds with baskets on their heads. Not to mention hearing the various indigenous Mayan languages along with the Spanish. It is all just a sight to behold.
This is a pretty standard sight in highlands, but I’m never able to try to grab a shot since I’m always driving. This truck was ahead of us just as we were getting to town. And for what it’s worth, we’ve seen these little Toyota trucks filled with even more people, or sometimes 6 mattresses, or piled high with so much fruit that it seems as if the slightest bump or swerve would send them all crashing to the road.
Things hadn’t gotten too busy when we first arrived, which made snagging a parking spot a little easier. It didn’t take too long, though, before the streets started to get pretty full. My cash was stashed away in a pretty secure zippered pocket, which is necessary when visiting. Our friend Jim had nothing in his pockets, but told us that after one particular point of congestion where things got quite tight and folks were shoving a bit, that he felt a hand digging into his pocket.
Here are more photos from the morning. I had a great time and was so pleased that I had the chance to work in one final visit.
In any of our previous visits to the lake, we had never stayed at Hotel Atitlan. Given that we didn’t have plans to take a boat anywhere else on the lake, and that we would be staying one night, we decided to reserve our rooms.
They have a great pool and beautiful grounds which give plenty of areas to keep DiploTot running around. As well there are macaws, parrots and a pen with rabbits – an especially big hit.
With DiploMom having Monday off for MLK Day, we decided to head out for a Saturday night stay at Lake Atitlan – most likely our final visit to the lake before our tour ends this summer. We knew it could be challenging to head back now that DiploBoy is along for the adventure, which is why we decided to just try one night, to stay at the Hotel Atitlan and to bring Dulce along to help out.
We knew we were unlikely to fare too well with out the extra help, so we were pleased that Dulce was anxious to come along. She had never been to the lake before, so this would be a fun trip for her as well. We reserved two rooms and headed out fairly early on Saturday morning.
Here’s a pretty standard view of what is ahead of us whenever we pass through Chimaltenango on our way to the lake. Sometimes getting through the town can take 15 minutes and sometimes it can take 45 minutes, which has a pretty big impact on the overall time to the lake. We were pleased when it wasn’t too congested on our way through.
One of my favorite parts of heading to the lake is when we turn off the highway and descend towards the lake through the town of Solola. The streets are quite steep and usually filled with lots of people. Since we were passing through on a Saturday, things were a little less crazy since the big market day is on Friday.
We arrived a good bit before check-in at the hotel, so we had lunch and had to kill some time on the grounds as we were not able to get into our rooms before the regular check-in time. Here we are trying to get DiploTot to snooze for a bit while we waited, without any success.
We were all a bit more rejuvenated once we got into our rooms and we then explored the nearby nature reserve that had a butterfly garden and some various trails to walk on.
DiploTot and DipoBoy ended up doing great during the night in our two-room setup so we did not end up regretting that we gave this quick get-a-way a go. We knew it was likely our last trip to the lake. I’ll miss these views! Lake Atitlan has been one of the highlights of our stay here in Guatemala and we’ve created many family memories here.
We head back to Guatemala City tomorrow morning. In addition to birthing a new child, it seems we have birthed several more pieces of luggage as well. We’ll be checking in 8 bags (one is missing from the photo) and carrying on multiple backpacks and a car seat.
It is a bit crazy. We’ll be heading out early in two fully loaded Acadia’s and looking forward to getting settled back in the house, which is going to be quite dirty after being closed up for the past two months. We’ll pick DiploDog up on Sunday and then the family will be fully reunited.
We tried to snap a nice little family photo on Christmas Eve, but this was all we got. It pretty much sums things up right about now. The packing always ends up taking longer than expected. We know this, but always think this time will be different. Happy New Year!