Thursday, April 14, 2011

Antigua & Lake Atitlan

South of Guatemala City are two of Guatemala's most popular tourist attractions, the restored colonial city of Antigua, and the Volcano laden Lake Atitlan.

Antigua’s cobble stone streets and restored colonial buildings are the prime attraction for visitors of Guatemala’s famed town.  Here the streets are kept trash free and even the McDonalds has to conform to building codes­­-  no protruding signage and definitely no neon arches.   There are many high end hotels and upscale restaurants catering to foreign tourists and the Guatemalan elite.  Although they were shrouded in haze when I was there,  normally looming over Antigua is an impressive volcano.  I was in Antigua during the weeks preceding the holy week of Semana Santa, when locals take to the streets in celebration and the highways for vacation.  

Residents make elaborate street art in homage to Semana Santa only to have to swept away hours later
Boris and an elaborately decorated chicken bus
After a shuttle from Antigua and a short boat ride I found myself at Lake Atitlan.  Lake Atitlan is a Guatemalan highland lake surrounded by imposing volcanoes and small charming villages.  The cool waters of the lake are great for the quick refreshing swim if the sun is out and the even more adventurous take the 9m plunge from the platform at San Marcos.
San Pedro volcano
Claire takes the plunge

San Marcos is just one of the towns on the lakeshore.  It has a distinct mix of local villagers and ex-pats who seem to have an interest in yoga or meditation which are very popular here.  It is a fantastic place to pass the time and relax.

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