Best time to visit:
All year round
In a word:
Basta que basta (enough is enough)
Wander aimlessly through the picturesque and colorful alleys of the old capital Antigua breathing the air of the colonial period; Participate in a religious celebration in the majestic cathedral of Chichicastenango before diving into its bustling city market; Visit, by boat, all the villages on the shores of the wonderful Lago de Atitlan.
In this wonderful adventure we focused on some Central American states; slowly, on the road, using hundreds of colorful local buses and vans, we traveled the long stretch of land that connects the two Americas.
We started from Guatemala after falling in love with its ancient Mayan culture, its traditional clothes, its markets and its religious people, we crossed the small El Salvador hitchhiking stopping in the most suggestive towns; we then continued south through the infamous Honduras with its Mayan sites and tropical islands; we fell in love with Nicaragua with its colonial cities, its volcanoes, its people of the "revolucion" up to the very modern Costa Rica, with its beaches, its national parks and its lush nature! We only skipped Belize and Panama, having endorsed them on previous trips!
Here the part dedicated to Guatemala!
Our suggested itinerary (8 days)
Guatemala City, Antigua
Panajachel (tour of the villages of Atitlan)
transfer to Guatemala City and flight to many destinations on the American continent or entry to El Salvador
We land in the capital: Guatemala City after many hours of flight. Many views remind us a little of the Philippine town of Cebu. The very kind Claudia, one of our couchsurfing contacts, accompanies us by car to Antigua and, along the way, I meet a small family who, sitting in a circle, prays in a park; women with colorful clothes smile at me; pitch-eyed girls with big eyes play hiding under the clothes of their mothers. What a feeling of peace!
Unfortunately, when we arrived in Antigua, we discovered that the lords of the "Hotel Dionisio" did not keep our reservation and we met on the first January evening, after 14 hours of flight without a hotel!
We like unexpected events! After 2 hours of research, dead tired, we find a very Spartan hotel and shortly thereafter immediately around with Claudia among craft markets, colonial streets and Christmas air!
Antigua ... with its colonial cobblestone alleys and pastel-colored walls ... This city on the slopes of three volcanoes (Agua, Fuego and Acatenango) was the capital of Guatemala until 1773 when it was razed to the ground by a devastating earthquake .
Chichi, as the locals call it, has really kidnapped us!
Its colors, its noises, its people, its history, the magical air that you breathe while you sit on the steps of St. Thomas and watch the "quiches" recite religious rituals by burning copal resin or while stroll among the colored tombs of the “Cemeterio General”.
Women with multicolored dresses and long raven hair crowd the streets selling everything and we enchant ourselves to admire the everyday life that flows before our eyes like a passionate documentary.
"Pana", as it is called by the locals, is a quiet town on the shores of Lake Atitlàn, today we are leaving to discover its "puebli".
San Juan la Laguna.
Small village of textile craftsmen; we wander aimlessly by sneaking inwardly, being enchanted by the peace that you breathe everywhere.
After twenty minutes of sailing we are in San Pedro la Laguna.
A long but pleasant climb leads us to the center of the small pueblo. Colorful fruit and vegetable markets, stalls of used clothes sell to nostalgic hippies.
Santiago de Atitlàn. Inside the cathedral, about thirty women kneeling in front of the altar recite the rosary between prayers and suggestive songs.
Following the Lonely Planet we start looking for "Maximòn", a puppet, the result of old Mayan beliefs, very revered here. Excellent excuse to sneak into the most secret alleys of this small town.
It is already time to go. After a Lucullian pancake breakfast prepared by our couchsurfing friend Sandra, we leave for the infamous Guatemala City, from there it will be an adventure to Ahuachapan.
For a long series of combinations we find ourselves on board an old taxi with Ricoberto and his wife Liliana who for 100 dollars (never paid so much!) Take us through a thousand adventures to the border with El Salvador. From there we will invent something!
The 120 km that separate the dangerous Guatemalan capital from the border of Villa Nueva are quite stormy ... First we stop in a row because they are redoing the road surface and here, when it happens, the local ANAS resolves the disservice by simply closing for two hours both senses of gear! Suffocating heat and various concerns since at 17.00 the border closes and from then on it's all unknown!
Finally we start again but shortly after we hear a whistle coming from outside ... Ricoberto slows down, then the four arrows ... it's how we fear ... we punctured ... We go down immediately (luckily he had a spare wheel ... never seen such a smooth wheel ...) and we put ourselves at he also works because a pick up with three uneasy men who watch us like sharks also stops with us ... Liliana is already trembling with fear ... and thank goodness she lives in the most dangerous area of Guatemala City.
Here is the border in the distance. The two leave us because they cannot continue further and, among many recommendations, we greet them as we are attacked by a thousand junk dealers, taxi drivers and various scoundrels.
But a guardian angel comes to our aid: Daniel, a Spanish missionary who has lived in Central America for 15 years and who helps us to reach our final destination in El Salvador. We are exhausted!