Friday, June 4, 2010 we left for an overnight trip to Panajachel, on the shores of Lake Atitlan, with a couple of temporary legal interns working in the area office, Seth Finlinson and Heath Becker. Seth was one of our missionaries in Mexico City back in 1998-99. The weather forecast was a 95% probability of rain both Friday and Saturday, and coming on top of last week's serious rain and flooding from Tropical Storm Agatha, we weren't sure how the trip would turn out, but the forecast for the following weekend didn't look any better, so we ventured forth, with Elder Clarke's blessing to leave a couple of hours early from the office.
The trip which usually can be done easily in three hours took a bit over four hours this time, due to mud slides covering half of the highway in many places, and due to a very slow detour we had to take for unexplained reasons to get through Chimaltenango. Happily, the rain (and darkness) held off until about the last half hour of the trip, but it was a bit interesting winding our way around blocked traffic on narrow streets in Solola and then proceeding down the steep, windy, mountain road from Solola to Panajachel in the rain, fog, and dark, with some of the 15 mud slides from the week before still covering parts of the road. We were glad to have travelled the route on multiple occasions before, which gave us some sense of security knowing approximately where we were and what was ahead. It was good to get into town and check into our hotel, which we had been correctly confident would have lots of empty rooms even without our having made advance reservations, since a lot of potential tourists were still under the impression that one couldn't or shouldn't travel to the area due to the storm damage.
The next day's 95% rain probability turned out instead to be a nice, partly sunny day, resulting in a couple of us getting an unexpected sunburn as we traveled across the lake to the picturesque indigenous village of Santiago Atitlan and later visited the nature preserve near Panajachel. The following are selected pictures of the weekend's activities (and one from the previous weekend). They aren't always in chronological order, but probably no one but us would know or care.
This one has nothing directly to do with our trip to Lake Atitlan, but we thought it was a fun picture of Elder Clarke talking on two cell phones at once a week earlier. I think the conversation had something to do with the area's response to the damage from Tropical Storm Agatha, and it seemed symbolic of Elder Clarke's ability to do multiple things at once.
Here's a scene on the road between Solola and Panajachel, where mud and rocks still partially covered the road. We didn't particularly notice it in the dark on the way down, but we had to stop here on the way home to allow oncoming traffic to pass.
The Hotel El Chaparral, where we stayed for $22 per room.
2nd floor of the hotel
Boat ride across Lake Atitlan
Where Virginia made a purchase at indigenous market in Santiago Atitlan
Virginia on the "virg" of making another purchase
Chapel in Santiago Atitlan, with volcano in background.
Volcano as seen from boat on Lake Atitlan
Ladies doing their Saturday wash in the lake
Sacks of carrots on highway ready to be taken to market
Man with load of wood on his back in Santiago
Man with load of avocados (I think) in Santiago
Note man with colorful pants on right on street in Santiago
Public transportation in Santiago
Market scene in Santiago. Note man in colorful pants.
Another market scene
Another Santiago scene at the central plaza
Man carrying box with plants on his back
Waterfall in nature reserve near Lake Atitlan, thought by some to be a likely site for the Waters of Mormon. I've always said that if Alma didn't baptize here, he should have! The place even bears some resemblance to Arnold Frieberg's painting. (What more proof would you want?)
Virginia on hanging bridge in front of waterfall. Since she won't let overweight relatives by marriage on such bridges at the same time she is crossing, it afforded an opportunity to take her picture while I waited.
Pizote or cuatimundi in the nature reserve, waiting for someone to toss him another banana
Steps leading up to the plaza in front of the Catholic church in Santiago. Sign threatens a Q100 fine for urinating in that spot.
Pretty butterfly on wall by the steps in the preceding photo. We hope he can read.
One of several landslide photos on the main highway between Guatemala City and Quetzaltenango. This normally four lane highway is cut down to two in many places now.
Another landslide photo
One of the bigger ones
Beautiful green hill with crops growing
Can you guess?
A flourishing cabbage patch prior to the storm
One of our wetter spots on the road. It was about a foot deep when we drove down on Friday and a little less by Saturday.
All in all it was a great trip, and we felt very blessed by the weather. And it was good to get to check out the hotel where the Burrows will be staying with us in one more month!