Those who have asked me about Guatemala tell them, if I come back in the future, near or far, it will be there; to Lake Atitlan. This place is a dream, one that everyone should have. To get there from Antigua you can take a shuttle that costs $20 but if you’re a cheapskate/saver like me then you go in ‘chicken bus’ and someone might steal from your phone or something else, but it’s worth it because it is fun and it is part of Guatemalan culture and it will only cost you $6 approx. Sure it’ll take about two hours longer than planned.
We had to take 4 chicken buses and a boat to go to San Marcos, this small town full of hippies and… more hippies. When we told the hostel dude in Antigua that we would go there first thing they told us was “I hope you like the hippies, because it’s all you’ll see there.” When we arrived we realize this thing was true, but not only that. From the moment I set foot on the boat and it took us at in a speed that probably was not the safest one and all the water sprayed only to the part of the boat where I was sitting I could see it, the atmosphere is loaded mountains and volcanoes that had a friendship connection with the water, all this together is beautiful.
We arrived in San Marcos at sunset and it looked very nice when see back to the lake. We stayed in a Bamboo Eco-house we found on Airbnb at a very good price. It was a little far from the ‘city center’, but this town is so small that nothing is really far. The house was wonderful, I loved it, It had some things to improve but nothing you can not close our eyes and ignore. I felt like I was in a little hotel of those you see in the instagram of hipsters.
On the evening/almost night, we decided to go to a restaurant -regardless of price- and have a decent dinner. We regretted a bit of the place we chose because the owner was an arrogant foreigner who licked the ass of every “guero” that step into the restaurant and he didn’t batted an eye of the ones who speak spanish. From there we went to the house to rest. The next day we planned to go to the nature reserve of Cerro Tzankujil (15 quetzales for foreigners). Before going there we bought a freshly made chocolate with coconut bread from an indigenous woman named Mary. We went down a path in which you have a very nice view and you can see your nahual on Mayan sculptures. But the best thing of that place is 1) you can swim in Lake Atitlan and 2) a 7 meter diving platform that challenges you if you have vertigo.
We decided to jump of the trampoline first and then swim a little. Moni was first and then me. I once read that when you’re afraid to do something you just have to count to three and do it, three seconds of courage is what you need, so whenever I’m in a situation like that, I count on my mind up to three and after it I do it. This time I jumped. and I didn’t felt vertigo until my feet were no longer touching the floor and I was in the air falling to the water. I did it twice and the second time something happened that I felt my ears exploded in the water and all day I had this annoying disconfort , but that did not stop me to swim.
I have learned that water is the best medicine to soothe the soul. Once inside I forgot that somebody stole my phone, the concern was gone, everything went away, and it was just me with volcanoes and water surrounding me. A place where I can swim and feel like this can never be a bad one.
And when we were leaving we saw the children of the family with which we climbed the Pacaya volcano and we talked with them for a while. The small girl was afraid of jumping the platform but managed to do it after we cheer for her. These children are awesome, she is 9 and the boy is 13 years and are the liveliest children of that age that I’ve ever met and they also have a very interesting life. We say goodbye to them knowing that it is more likely that we saw them again. We went to eat four slices of pizza for 10 quetzales next to the basketball court. And then we returned to the hill we were to watch the sunset and swim some more. We were sitting by the lake, Moni and Alma reading and I was just watching the view. A mayan boy was near me and was trying to reach a branch in the water but he was so small so he could not reached it. I helped him and he started following me, we started playing throwing stones into the lake and more indigenous children joined us. We were like that for half an hour and then we decided to get into the water. One of the girls followed me, we swam for a while. They went off and I said goodbye from afar. I also went off the water because I could not stand the ears, Alma Moni kept swimming and reading. Then the Canadian children came and began to play with us. I returned into the water and we played Marco Polo, and stuff like that. I realized then that the body ages because they were like nothing had happen, with immense energy and we were almost diying. We had enough time with them until the sun started to disappear and it was time to go. We said goodbye with a promise to meet the next day so we would invite them ice cream.
We arrived at the nicest house in San Marcos. We decided to eat there to save money. Moni and Alma went to the store while I took a shower, when they returned they said that a man had touched one of them. Men in Guatemala were always greeting, “Hello, hello hello,” we felt it was a way of cordiality, now we thought it was a ‘nice’ way to “cat call”. We dined at the house and the lights went out, so it was a romantic, moonlight dinner with candles. The next day we grabbed our stuff and we left. As we walked to the small harbor we saw our Canadian friends who had awakened and were eating breakfast. We said goodbye to them and gave them a few coins of Mexico. We took the boat to San Pedro and we left San Marcos and it’s magic.