Nica via Tica

29 06 2011

We have arrived in Nicaragua, known as “Nica” to the locals.  We came by way of the international bus company, Tica Bus.  It was so hard leaving Lake Atitlan after what seemed like the most relaxing, and amazing time we have had yet.  It was even harder knowing that we would have two full days of travel to get to Nicaragua.  Even harder knowing that we would make our journey without a shuttle to the bus station, a ticket for the bus, or a place to stay.  I think the combination of being physically exhausted after our trek, and staying in the most relaxing and decadent places kept us from doing any work on  the next leg of our trip.
After the trek we had a place lined up in the small village of Jabalito de La Lago.  It was close to the main village on Lake Atitlan, and we chose it because we heard it was amazing, and we knew we wanted something nice after 3 days of hell.  Casa del Mundo didn’t disappoint.

On the last day of the trek, we said goodbye to our group and group leaders, bought t-shirts, and took a boat across the lake to the little town.  Casa del Mundo has its own private dock, and we unloaded our bags and stared dejectedly at the 3 flights of achingly steep stairs leading to the front office.  I remember thinking, “I just hiked 30 miles with this god damn pack, I hope I can make it to the front desk.”  We collectively struggled all the way, and after checking in, the hostess told us very encouragingly that we only had 15 more steps until we reached our room.  We huffed and lugged our bags over our shoulders, and we climbed to our wonderful room to settle in.

the room was instantly messy as we unloaded our things

The first thing on all of our minds after taking our bags off, was a shower… a scalding hot shower.  After we all bathed for an obscene amount of time, we piled up all of our dirty clothes, hung up all of our gear to air out, and began relaxing.

laying things out to dry in the Lake Atitlan breeze

Casa del Mundo offered a 4 course dinner that evening for 12 dollars, and we achingly walked down stairs for another carb-loaded meal that we were all thrilled to devour.  We went to bed before 9 and we were all quite delirious at the idea of being in such an amazing place and at the realization that we didn’t have to walk ANYWHERE for the next day.
The next day, we woke at sunrise (after all we were getting quite used to waking at that time) to see the sunrise one more time over Lake Atitlan.

Lago de Atitlan in the morning *from our room*

We layed around in bed for an hour or so, and then made a lazy decent to bottomless cups of coffee and the most delicious breakfast we have had in all of Guatemala for just under $5.  We quickly decided we weren’t doing any walking or work for the day, and changed into our bathing suits and sat on the sunny deck of Casa del Mundo.  While we sunned on the deck, we dropped off our filthy-stinking trek clothes to be cleaned.
At lunch, we ate sandwiches and smoothies all for around $5-6 dollars.  And we toyed with the idea of ordering beers and taking them up to our rooms.  Instead, we took naps.  You would have done the same thing!

Miguel and Brian jumping off of the balcony at Casa del Mundo


Around 5 that evening, I think it hit us that we needed to decide if we were going to stay at Casa del Mundo for another day or if we were going to stick to schedule and catch a Tica Bus to Nicaragua tomorrow.  The vote was unanimous to stay another day, but as we looked at the schedule and the various options of travel to Nicaragua (other than Tica Bus) it seemed like the only reasonable decision to make was to get up at 5 the next morning and make our way down to Nicaragua.  Pam seemed close to crying at the thought of leaving, and I think we all felt a little depressed at the idea, but we couldn’t justify cutting a day out of Nicaragua because we wanted to be lazy.

uncoordinated jumping

The next morning, the front desk had yogurt, fruit, granola, and honey waiting for us for breakfast.  We ate, grabbed our things and made our way to the dock.  As soon as we landed in the main town Panajachel on Lake Atitlan, we were offered a shuttle ride to Guatemala City (where the Tica Bus station is).  We bargained, paid, and ordered some coffee at a local restaurant and began day one of a 2 day travel journey.
Once we made it to Tica Bus, we snagged the last seats on the direct bus to Nicaragua.  In total, we would be traveling for around 25 hours in 2 days.  The bus ride was split into two legs.  Leg one was from Guatemala to El Salvador.  The ride wasn’t to terrible and the bus driver showed some fine quality Jackie Chan films on the way (dubbed in Spanish of course). We arrived in Granada after two long days of travel and we were ready to give Nicaragua all we’ve got!

Exploring Granada and getting our feet back under us


Lake Atitlan… Words Fail Me Now

17 06 2011

We talked to Pam and Brian countless times preparing for our trip, but the more and more we talked, the more we realized that it was going to be impossible for us to plan out every place to sleep or even every town to visit!  So, we kept a couple of chunks of time completely unplanned and decided that we would follow are follies and see what happens.

As our time in Antigua came to an end we approached one of the unplanned chunks of time.  Really, without much descussion we decided to head toward Lake Atitlan, more specifically, Panajachel (pana-hach-el).  And from there, we would take a day trip to Chichicastenango to visit the largest market in Guatemala, if not all of Central America!

We booked a shuttle to take us from Antigua to Panajachel and started on the second leg of our journey.  In our micro bus, we wound past crops of corn and towering pine trees, breezed by small villages and old ladies selling traditional Mayan clothes.  After climbing the Guatamalan hills for a while, we began to drop alititude very quickly as we made our way toward Lake Atitlan.  The switchbacks became monontinous until we rounded one corner that opened up a miraculous view.  Many have refered to Lake Atitlan as ¨one of the most beautiful lakes in the world,¨and at the moment I could see why.  The true blue water, spread out like a calm blanket, is dotted by 3 volacnaoes that jut up from the surreen water.

We continued to wind our way down to Panajachel, disembaked from our microbus and quickly found our hotel, Utz Jay, our home for the next two nights.  We dropped our stuff off and immediately made our way to the shores of the lake.  There, we shooed away a couple of guys trying to get us to take a boat ride, and we just sat.  We enjoyed looking out at the lake and basked in the moment of being in such a ridiculously amazing place with great friends.  The rest of the day passed quickly as we enjoyed drinks and food in town and anticipated our trip to the market the next morning.


Lake Atitlan

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