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Peps and Pete Travels "On pleasure bent again"

Slowing down in San Marcos

GUATEMALA | Sunday, 11 February 2007 | Views [1876] | Comments [5]

For the past few days, we have been chilling out on the shores of Lake Atitlan. The lake is formed in a Calderra (collapsed volcanic cone)and it covers 128 sq/km and reaches depths of more the 320m.

As we hit the top of the volcanic rim, we looked into the calderra to be greeted by the most amazing blue waters, waters that stretch out to the edge of the rugged mountains, and are encircled by three big volcano´s - Volcan Toliman (3158m), Volcan Atitlan (3537m) and Volcan San Pedro (3020m). The lonely planet describes this place as Guatemala´s most dramatic region, and I can say that Dramatic it is!

We chose to stay in a little village (one of a few around the lake shores) called San Marcos La Laguna (San Marcos). THe bus from Antigua dropped us in Panajachiel and from there we caught a lancha (boat) across to San Marcos.

San Marcos, it is claimed, ´is a peaceful place with houses set among coffee trees near the shore. Some people believe that the lpace has a special spiritual vibe´. Well, I am not sure about the spiritual vibe, but it is certainly peaceful. There is a village area that consists of two lonk foot paths, and then behind this is the village of San Marcos proper - where all the locals live.  

The place seems to be full of expats running massage centres and guesthouses, but these are mainly confined to the car free bit of the village that is closer to the lake. I had a 90 minute Swedish Massage which cost me less that US$25, but what I really like was the peace and quiet of the place, and the really slow lifestyle (eg a place selling breakfast which only opened at 12:30pm). 

We took an afternoon trip to San Pedro (antother village) to get money out and have a look around, and I must say that I am glad we chose to stay in San Marcos. Pete met a pom in an internet cafe who had been pissed for 2 days (apparently he had been more pissed that he had ever been - which for a pom is saying something!).  If that is what we had been wanting to do, I reckon that I would have loved San Pedro, but we wanted to chill out and escape, and San Marcos had it all!

The lake was good for swimming in as well, and the water was not to cold, so now I can say that I have swum in a Calderra!

I do have 2 criticisms, and these mainly relate to the young hippie travellers who come to the Lake region.  I will try not to rant too much, but some of their behavior was astonishing to me! I was waiting to catch a boat from San Pedro back to San Marcos and I got chatting to a girl next to me.  She asked me where I was from, so I said "Australia, and you?" her Response was "Madre Tierra." So me being me I frown and say "Oh, where is that (fully expecting some little town in New Mexico or something)". She says "Earth man, I{m from mother earth". Now I am all for thinking that we are a global community and that borders are arbitary lines drawn around places, but really, where can I go from there? It bothered me most of all that they (young hippie travellers) set up stalls selling the exact same items as the locals, only 5 feet away from the locals. The people of Guatemala are poor, and we should be coming here to contribute to their economy, and to support their industry, not take what little means they have of earining an income away from them.  Especially as these people are able to afford to travel in the first place.  I dont mind them going there and setting up businesses and training local people (I heard on restaurant turn away a westerner looking for a job because they wanted a local), but for those that were just pasisng through or staying for a month or two, I think that it is morally corrupt to try and compete with the local people for the few dollars that other poor travellers will spend on trinkets and jewelerry.

That said, San Marcos is fantastic, calm and peaceful, and beautiful. Yet another Highlight! (I may just need to make all of Guatemala a highlight!)

Tags: Relaxation



Hey Peps and Pete I am so jealous. It's easy to see your having a ball.


  Finola Wijnberg Feb 13, 2007 8:51 PM


Hey guys, now that I've figured out where Guatemala is, I have 2 questions: can you see Cuba and have you swum in the Caribbean?!
all our love!

  Suz and Si Feb 14, 2007 11:31 PM


ps The cat may yet dominate; those cats he was fighting with may have just been on heat so.. he got lucky! Unless he's neutered..

  Suz and Si Feb 14, 2007 11:32 PM


Hey Penny and Pete

Sounds like you are having a blast- it's so cool to read about your adventures! Totally agree with you about the hippies and the volcano thing sounds crazy!
Things here are good- not much different though, since you left.

Take care

  Melita Agius Feb 16, 2007 3:18 PM


Hi Penny and Pete

Sounds like you are having the adventure of a lifetime. I'm enjoying reading all about them. Brightens the day in the office. Have a blast and stay safe.

Take care Donna

  Donna Quintus-Bosz Feb 22, 2007 3:31 PM



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