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Sunday, November 24, 2013

A boat trip around Lake Atitlan, Guatemala and a weaving lesson too.

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This morning we regrettably pack our bags and leave one of our favorite places we have stayed so far – Hotel Bambu.  The kind owner drops us down to the pier where we drag our rolling backpacks down the cobblestone street with a bit of difficulty.  It is too early for the haggling sellers, so we find it a lot easier to get to the boats. 
One interesting fact is that each boat charges a different amount to cross the lake. Not only that, but it is also more for tourists than locals, but if you look local you get the lesser price.  My strawberry blond hair has not seen a hairdresser in a year and a half and so I in no way look remotely local!
We seem to sit for ages, waiting for the boat to fill, so we head off and it is quite rough, and we toss and turn.  By the time we get to San Pedro, we dash off the boat as fast as we can. Our bags have been stored at the front of the boat and are somewhat wet. 
We don’t even get to look around San Pedro, but we head by Tuk-Tuk-Tuk straight to San Jaun.  However the Tuk-Tuk driver looks about 14 years old and he gets lost. Three times he asks directions for where the natural dyes and weaving is.  Apparently it is all around town,  so no idea why he can’t find one store.
But it all works out well.
He drives us to the bottom of a really steep incline, right by the pier.  There is a row of Artesinal stores and selects this one for us.
We hop out and meet the artist.  
 She is young – one of 22 women in the association that join together to sell their work. Most are young Mums.  Her baby is in a walker, and zipping around the room as she tries to teach us about the dyes.  He is grabbing yarn, and buckets of dye, and it is really distracting.
Soon Explorason (who adores babies) decides it is more important for him to be in charge of the baby, and leaves the lady and I to try and have a lesson. My Spanish is terrible, but I understand about 75% of the process, which I think is pretty good.
 She then gets out a long weaving project, and sits me down and proceeds to teach me.
She is so patient, and spends about 1 hour showing me, and finally I have to ask to stop. I was lost in time and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I was trying not to buy and more items, but felt I really wanted to support her as a young Mum. So we scan the store for a good half an hour until I find a fine weave a bit like a scarf or centre soft runner I can buy.  It is special because she is so sweet.
 We then wander up the street and have some lunch.  It is $5 including a drink and is enough for both of us and is a great Chicken Schnitzel or Milanesca.  In fact we get a bag for the left overs, and as we have left our bags at the handicraft store, we are able to climb the hill and visit a few more of the local artists.
Explorason find a painting that matches a large on I bought the day before, and decided he wants to buy it for me for Christmas.  I love the secrets and wrapping as he and the owner wrap it. Such fun!
We decide it is time to move on. 
My eye catches these amazing beaded belts  they are about 8 cm or 2 inches wide - and are gorgeous - about $20 each - I restrain myself and don't buy one though.
 So we head back and grab our bags and zoom down the hill to the pier.
 Half submerged in water with the lake rising nearly 1 metre already in the last 6 months, we only just make it as a boat turns up.
This boat goes all around the lake, and stops at the smaller towns and piers, so we get to have a great look at the places we want to come back to next time we come to Guatemala.
Places people told us were quite horrid, look quite divine to us.  We want to stop and investigate quite a few, but we don’t have the time. 
We finally get to Panajachel and with the help of a Tuk-Tuk we get from the far pier to the centre of town. This is a confusing town with 2 piers.  We stay at an inexpensive place right smack in the middle of town, Mario’s Rooms, and the price also includes the wi-fi and a basic breakfast, so we are happy.
We barely drop our bags off, and then we are out again.
I really want to see a town I have heard of where the men wear skirts!
We jump in a Tuk-Tuk and off we scoot to the main road, and jump out just as fast, as the bus only just rocks up – perfect timing.
We notice the men in “skirts” – which really are wraps hop on the bus.  My camera is ready.
We get to Solola, and Explorason decides he wants to take the photographs, so I hand over the camera with caution.  
He is darting around town and gets so many fabulous photos, and has so much fun.  He doesn’t even ask people, he is just running, laughing and clicking, and giving them the thumbs up!
We also explore the museum and pay for the entrance to the central park rotunda (both I think are a waste of money).

The town really has nothing much to see, so we head back on the bus to Panajachel, and then grab some Indian dinner – which was fabulous!

Wow - that was a busy day. Early start tomorrow so off to bed!


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