Saturday 20th August 2011

Antigua – Panajachel

Today it was time to bid our farewells to the charming town of Antigua, and to follow my great grandfather’s route (in reverse) across the high country to the jewel of Guatemala, Lake Atitlán. Our route took us through a number of places where GCC stayed in 1880, including Chimaltenango, Patzicía and Patzún, all of which must have grown beyond recognition in the 140 or so years since he passed through on his mule. There were hardly any old buildings to be seen, so although it was interesting to see these highland, indigenous towns, we did not feel an immediate bond with George Charles as we travelled through.

We took a back route, known as La Culebrita (the little snake) as it twists and turns so much, through at times spectacular mountain scenery, which we were pleased to see is still quite well forested with pine and oak – indeed I observed a group of Acorn Woodpeckers boring acorns into the bark of a huge tree, at equally spaced intervals, for later use, much as squirrels hoard nuts.

Oh dear, what's happened to the road?

Finally we came to the small village and road junction of Godinez, also frequented by GCC but sadly lacking today in traces of his era, although we did see some beetles that he would have been able to identify at once, and then we had our first glimpses of the wonderful Lago de Atitlán, nestled almost like an inland Norwegian fjord in a basin between the volcanoes.

GCC's dream come true

Our route brought us down to the lakeside town (and tourist mecca) of Panajachel, where we checked into our hotel for the next four nights, before venturing along the shores a little further to the attractive little village of Santa Catarina Palopó, from where we enjoyed splendid views along the lake. Our stay here looks promising!

Lake Atitlan

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