Hotel Atitlan

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.

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Back To The Lake

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Touring San Juan La Laguna with Juan Carlos

In deciding to pick out one town on the lake to visit with my parents, the choice was obvious – San Juan La Laguna. This was our third visit to the town and we arranged to use the same guide who had taken us around on our previous visits – Juan Carlos (on the right).

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I highly recommend using him if your visits bring you to San Juan. On one visit, the one where we had decided to purchase some paintings, we had been driving through part of the town and noticed some additional galleries (most are on the main street up from the dock).

We asked him to take us to them and it turned out one of them was run by his cousin. We thought it spoke very highly to his character that he hadn’t intentionally brought us there since the painter was his cousin. We only ended up there because we asked him to take us.

You can email him in advance to arrange a tour or ask about available options at j3carlos9 {at} hotmail.es.

San Antonio Palopó

We enjoyed being able to visit a new town on this most recent visit to Lake Atitlán. Our rental house was just outside of San Antonio Palopó and it was an easy stroll into town to check things out.

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The town doesn’t seem to get too many tourists so we felt like we really stood out. Perhaps it was the sight of DiploTot strapped to the back of DiploMom, something that probably isn’t that commonly seen, at least when it comes to gringos. DiploMom commented that kids were popping their heads out of windows and commenting amongst themselves about the sight. One little boy even ran up behind us in an attempt to touch the back of DiploTot’s head.

The town is known is known for its ceramics and we were able to see where they are made and to purchase several items from one of the galleries.

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Here’s the view looking out over the lake from town’s church.

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Lake Atitlán House

With my parents in town for a visit, we headed back to Lake Atitlán this weekend. Thanks to VRBO, we found an amazing house near the town of San Antonio Palopó, which was a part of the lake we had not yet been to. The house was incredible – totally modern, spacious (3 bedroom, 3 bath) with amazing views.

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San Juan La Laguna Artists

I don’t know if San Juan simply has a concentration of talented artists, or if, as I mentioned previously, that they simply have their act together as far as encouraging tourism and commerce based on the skills of the residents here, but there about six or seven galleries on the main street from the dock. I haven’t noticed any galleries at the other towns we have been to, but perhaps they are simply more dispersed.

We had decided that on this visit that we wanted to purchase some paintings to go in our dining room and we ended up with three pieces that will look great there. We saw so much that we liked that it was hard to decide. I wouldn’t be surprised that on any return visit that we pick up a few more pieces.

Here is one of the artists working in his gallery and the painting that we purchased from him.

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Here are the other pieces that we purchased from two other galleries. Next step is to get them framed and we’ve been able to get some good recommendations on a couple of places to do this.

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DiploTot’s New Friends

While we were are the lake, we were able to pay the housekeeper for the rental property to prepare dinner for us on Friday and Saturday night. This is a great setup as we didn’t have to plan out what to bring and she is able to earn some extra money in addition to what she is paid by the owner of the house.

The woman and her family live in a town near the house (Santa Cruz La Laguna) that is walkable from the house. On both nights, she had a couple of her younger children with her – Carolina (10) and David (6) – and what a gift that turned out to be! They quickly became friends with DiploTot and they all had fun playing hide-and-seek in the two bedrooms.

The kids were so great and sweet playing with DiploTot. They were very attentive and careful running around with her and making sure that she didn’t stumble or fall. It was a great break for us to have them all playing and it got lots of extra energy out of DiploTot.

It was a highlight of the weekend seeing these little Mayan kids playing with DiploTot and hearing them call out her name as they were scrambling from hiding place to hiding place. I imagine it was a special treat for the kids as well, being able to run and play in the house, which I bet isn’t the norm with every guest that is staying there.

It was all so basic and simple, which added to the charm of it all. No need for a bunch of toys, just kids doing what kids can do, making their own fun with what was available.

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At one point, we realized it had gotten pretty quiet, so I peaked my head into the bedroom to check on things and found them all sitting together with David “reading” a Dr. Suess book to DiploTot.

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It was a very special memory and I look forward to the day when I can recall the story to DiploTot. If we rent this house again on any future visits, these kids will be a big reason why.