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Lake Atitlan, Santa Cruz

September 11, 2011

Monterrico was nice, but Lake Atitlan is GREAT! I wish the factory was closer, because I’d love to live here!

We’re still trying to figure out the best way to get money converted and into our bank account here in Guatemala (in addition to how to receive regular mail and a few other things we take for granted in the States) so I was a little stressed when we arrived in Panajachel-not certain how we’d pay for things if cards were not accepted and as is usually the case in Guatemala people instantly tried to sell us things. We quickly found the water taxi to Santa Cruz and found our little paradise just a 10-15 minute boat ride away.

On the boat from Panajachel to Santa Cruz

First set foot on Santa Cruz

La Iguana Perdida ( was recommended by the bar tender at the Ocelot in Antigua and it definitely lived up to it’s recommendation.  We initially got shown to a nice, large room towards the back but before we could even put our bags down they said they made a mistake and moved us to the best room in the place- Atitlan is it’s name and it was similar to the first room but this one had a balcony overlooking the lake that makes it all that much better. We headed down to eat lunch right away and rested a bit from the ride (about 2 1/2 hours from Antigua). Lunch was great, and dinners were even better- La Iguana’s food is second to none in Guatemala. On Sunday night we had spaghetti with homemade noodles!

View from the dining room

The hotel is along the water but the city (or village) of Santa Cruz is actually up the hill so we decided to walk up and check it out. It isn’t too far, but the hill is extremely steep. I brought a coat thinking it was chilly and might rain but soon I was shedding layers because it was a lot of work climbing the road. The people in the town must be in very good shape- carrying heavy loads up and down. We meandered around town and went as far as the road would go until it turned to dirt. Even though we were just walking the streets I felt like an intruder since we could see into so many people’s houses. But everyone was extremely kind and we didn’t seem to bother them.

Brian on the way up the road to the town of Santa Cruz

"Parque Central" Santa Cruz

View from the end of the road- Santa Cruz


Trails in the distance

Lazy dogs- one of my favorite photos

cuidad de Santa Cruz

cuidad de Santa Cruz- another angle

Puppy along the road

Dinner wasn’t until 7:30 so we thought we’d check out la Jacaranda (we saw it from the boat on the way in). We enjoyed a few drinks, met some great people (including Mark the owner of la Jacaranda) and before we knew it the water was getting choppy and it looked like rain. We needed to get back for dinner before it got too dark! The Jacaranda has a dock pathway around it and we managed to get around without getting too wet, but it was definitely challenging.

Denise walking to la Jacaranda

the rain is on the way

As I mentioned earlier, the food at La Iguana is terrific! On Saturday nights they have a bbq, the menu changes the rest of the week but dinner always has a meat option and a veggie option. After dinner they had some entertainment (dancing with fire), a bonfire, and dress-up! If you look very closely at the dancing with fire picture you may be able to see Brian in his dress (through the hoop).

campfire and dress-up on Saturday nights at la Iguana

dancing with fire

Somehow we were pretty tired so we went to bed pretty early. But we also woke up early- to the sound of roosters and the bright sunrise. We went for a morning stroll to check out Laguna Lodge (a $225+ per night hotel) ( We stopped for overpriced coffee soaking in the view but hurried back for breakfast at La Iguana in hopes we could scuba dive. We made it back in time for scuba diving, took the lessons, passed the tests, went on a 45 minute dive, but unfortunately Brian got sick after about 35 minutes. Whatever caused him to get sick in the car as a kid has caused him to be unable to scuba dive. Oh, well… at least it was fun for awhile. Scuba diving wore me out as well so we took a long nap and before you know it we were back at la Jacaranda for tapas.

Beautiful tree on the hillside

Brian in my favorite section of the walk along the lake

La Laguna Resort- absolutely beautiful, but still overpriced in my opinion

D after coffee at La Laguna

on the way back to La Iguana

B getting ready to dive

Sunday night was another great night of talking to amazing people and our first experience drinking “illegal mezcal” from the owners of Cafe No Se in Antigua ( A lot of us decided to schedule a yoga session for Monday morning- which was great! The noise of the locals coming in and out of the docks was a little distracting, but you have to remember they have every right (or more) to be there and carrying on with their lives. We ended our trip to the lake with breakfast with our new friends at Isla Verde ( another hotel along the lake. Breakfast was great and I can’t decide if we should try Isla Verde next time or if we should stick to the terrific La Iguana Perdida, but before we knew it we were running late to pack, check-out, and catch our water taxi. We rushed back and managed to do all the above and make it to Pana with 10 minutes to spare to catch our shuttle back to Antigua.

Sunday night- no clouds, but now it's dark

Mette, Vilja, and the Aussie's (Mette and Vilja (the baby) are planning to spend a few days at our house in Antigua before they go back to Denmark)

view from the boat ride back to Pana

la Jacaranda

I can’t wait till we can go back to the lake. We are definitely planning to take my parents there in November, but who knows, maybe we’ll take another trip before then- we still have a lot to explore in the area- we didn’t even manage to hike the volcanoes! If only it was a little closer (or we had our own car).


I almost forgot… the sauna!! There is a very interesting homemade wood fired sauna that was great on Sunday night after the cold scuba diving and some rain. It’s a little dark, but the sauna by candlelight was definitely one of the highlights of the weekend.

checking out the view

One Comment leave one →
  1. Julie Zimmer permalink
    September 11, 2011 2:01 pm

    Brian, so sorry you can’t scuba. You will be confined to snorkeling with us old people. Being sick while in scuba gear under water sounds like a really bad option, dangerous, to put it mildly.

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