Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lake Atitlan

This past weekend, I spent 4 nights along the outskirts of Lake Atitlan, visiting different towns that surround the lake.  I am still unsure about the development and creation of this lake (along with many other people) but from what I have heard, a volcano collapsed in this large spot creating a beautiful lake unlike any other.  There are three large volcanoes that surround the lake along with mountains that contain 12 little villages hidden in forests and jungles.  Some people claim that this lake is the lost city of Atlantis based on the description and how it looks, but as recently as 6 or 7 years ago, both the lake and the air were too polluted for people to swim or even breathe.  I was lucky enough to be able to experience it and it's full beauty.

For the first night, we traveled across the lake to a little town called San Juan where we stayed in an eco friendly hotel right along the water's edge.  The hotel was pretty rustic, but it fit with the town.  It was built into the side of a mountain and to get to San Juan, we had to walk through the forest before reaching houses.    San Juan is known for their coffee and textiles, so while we were there, we visited a coffee cooperative and hand wove scarves with the help of local Mayan women.  It was quite the experience, but I really enjoyed making a scarf and spending the 3 hours doing so.

For the other 3 nights, we stayed in a hotel in Panajachel and spent the days traveling around and relaxing.  For the first night, we ate at Sunset Cafe and had the most beautiful view of the sunset over the volcanoes reflected in the water.  I fell in love with it!

During another day, we drove to Xela and later to the natural hot springs that are located at an altitude of 8,000 feet.  The drive up was terrifying because we were winding through the mountains with no guardrails against the edges of the cliffs, but the trip was worth it.  The natural hot springs were heated by the volcanoes and it was like sitting in a giant hot tub.  When we looked out over the edge, we could see clouds below us we were so high!