i am sitting in bed here on my last day at lago de atitlan. soon i’ll be bidding farewell to the magnificent towering cones of atitlan, toliman, and san pedro. oh you gorgeous volcanoes! i’ll miss you, but fuego & agua are calling to me in antigua and alas, i must make the winding journey home. up and out of the land on the edge of the caldera. back across the sierra madres, down the small and large roads, all the way back to adventura numero dos.
the lake is navy & silver this morning. the morning sun shines on the volcanoes and i can see every fold in their green carpeted sides. valleys, ridges, and rock all etched in green.
here are some of my neighbor’s houses…
and the house next door that is being redone by a delightful crew of giggling young men. they’ve seen me pick my way down the foot tall stairs each morning, all the way to the rocks where i make my way into the lake in my underpants, lane giant tank top with a keyhole cutout in the back, and my crocs. it’s actually better than my bathing suit because it requires no wriggling, pouring, or tucking myself into and out of it. which. i. hate.
they see me descend in pants and ascend pantless with wet hair. my flannel shirt cum swimsuit coverup helps to maintain a somewhat modest appearance.
my leg & arse muscles are v.v. sore from the climb. the stairs are steep and some are about a foot high. oy!
here’s my little shack…
i wasn’t planning to swim in the lake. i’ve heard all the internet warnings yadda yadda blah blah, but the other morning i saw a man out for his morning swim. i watched him for quite a while until he disappeared under the treetops. i could hear the voices of ingrid & my sister & joyce maynard urging me to take the plunge and so i went for it.
the crystal clear water and birdsong, wind in the trees, smooth rocks that were easy enough for someone with a trick knee to navigate. all of it made for a magical experience. the water was the perfect temperature, like lukewarm bathwater, like silk. i floated on my back and looked at the volcanoes.
they say that those who swim in the lake are destined to return to it. aside from being a magnificent natural wonder (and the deepest in central america) it holds spiritual significance for the native people who live in hilltop communities above its shores.
many years ago the earth vibrated with such an intensity it launched to the air the biggest volcanic explosion in history. after the fall of the incandescent stones and the spill of lava and fire, everything was in silence.
many years after that earthly violence a splendid landscape arose, the rivers began to fill the gigantic boiler that had been forged and three impetuous volcanoes erected like the final touch of a masterpiece.
each one of the towns in the department of sololá contains a particular mystic, a different coloring and a wonderful vision of the world, with a firmament that can only be understood if one lives the experience.
I found that description of the lake HERE.
yesterday i caught a tuk tuk to the docks. think: flimsy popsicle sticks that squeak and tremble slightly when you walk on them. i tried to find the boats with ramps that you easily glide across. i’ve seen pictures and read about them so i know they exist. but alas there were none in sight.
see that little boat that is packed full of men. the one there on the left. that’s the one i boarded. and i can tell you there was no jonas or ted (like in sweden) to grip onto and wobble my way aboard. oh no! i was on my own with at least a dozen local men watching me. somehow i did it without crushing any of them or falling. i apologized my way to the middle of the boat and settled in between 2 fellows. i was the only tourist on board, but i’m sure they’re used to our foolish ways.
after a few minutes our boat took off across the lake. i had no idea which village i would end up at, but as i had boarded the the non express lancha which stops at each dock i didn’t have to worry. the names of the villages were displayed.
at each stop more and more men got off and young boy named francisco would wave his hand and indicate that you were to either stay or move to the opposite side of the boat. weight balancing. i took no offense as he did this with everyone. he seemed to have an expert knowledge of how all the weight should be distributed. during the ride between stops he lay on the benches, sang little songs under his breath, did little boy things. when i was the only passenger left he asked where i was going and where i was from. i told him i was from los angeles and this boat ride with him and his pop were my destination.
i was enjoying the boat and its passengers so much i couldn’t bring myself to get off. in all Francisco & his dad made 6 or 7 stops then headed back across the lake to panajachel with me still in tow. they were puzzled when i explained that i just wanted to enjoy the ride and wasn’t going anywhere. total cost 50 quetzales or 6.52 USD for that privilege. much cheaper than a private boat and much more entertaining. seeing everyone climb aboard with their children and various packages wrapped in bright woven fabric was unforgettable. watching francisco do his thing. rich.
on my next visit i will do some village explorations, but this time i was more than content to glide across the lake, lay in my hammock, swim in the magical waters, and watch the sky.
on the way back i rode with nearly all women. oh what beauties they all were!
as you can see once i returned to panajachel i got some pillow covers. sorry to disappoint, but thaz it! those 3 beautiful covers only set me back 18 USD. so no, i didn’t do much shopping. i was too impatient to sort through the mountains of textiles. i just wanted to have a hammock swing and a nap.
mary & syd arrive tomorrow and i know i’ll pick up more stuff when i’m out with them.
i’m off! elmer will be here any minute. love from guatemala xo
see you soon!