Friday, July 17, 2015

A Sunny Day In Steep San Pedro

One of the best days of my sisters' visit was when we spent the day in San Pedro la Laguna. We walked down to the San Pedro launch dock, which in Pana is at the end of Calle de Embarcadero, and which I just noticed is marked with a "ferry" symbol on Google maps!
Of course, we ignored the many men asking us, "Boat? Lancha? San Pedro?" and continued on until almost to the dock. There we spoke to an official public boat dude, distinguished by their shirts, and were told we had to wait until there was 15 people on board before we left. That was fine by us, so we sat in the boat chatting for about 20 minutes until enough people showed up. Then we were off!
My little sister enjoying the view from the boat to San Pedro.
My big sister striking a pose in the boat to San Pedro.
Man, I love being on the water! In the morning, the lake is usually calm and the air is clear, so it's a lovely ride. When we disembarked at the cool-looking thatched roof San pedro dock, we paid our Q25 fare to the captain. (That's about $4.25 Canadian.) Then we gawked at the STEEP hill heading up from the dock! They're not kidding when they say most villages around the lake are hilly! Santiago was the same way. :)
Little sis standing at the bottom of the steep hill that leads from the dock into San Pedro.
My sisters! Taking in the sights of San Pedro, just up from the Pana dock.
The tuk-tuks in San Pedro all parked on angles to the hill with their wheels turned so they wouldn't roll away. We even saw one tuk-tuk have to unload its passengers because it couldn't make it up the hill! Our legs certainly got a workout after a day of walking up and up and up and down,

I had done a bit of research the day before to find us a nice spot for coffee and boy, was it nice! We went just up the hill from the Pana dock and found Cafe Las Cristalinas. The best coffee I've had in Guatemala so far! I'm not joking.
The mural outside Cristalinas.
Little sis posing with the coffee plants that we sat amongst. 
My delicious coffee. Such a nice big mug too!
Big sis preparing to stab her fruit and yogurt parfait. YUM.
French toast bites and fruit at Cafe Los Cristalinas. DELISH.
The mural inside the café.
We lingered over our yummy food and coffee, and eavesdropped a bit on the tour that came in. The café also sold coffee beans but we had to decline as we had plans to buy beans from Crossroads Café back in Panajachel.
Reluctantly, we left the coffee shop and headed out into the steep streets. We decided to just wander about in the sunshine, letting our curiosity guide us. It was wonderful!

A rare flat road in San Pedro. Not a well-travelled street. We could tell because the cobblestones weren't totally wrecked yet!
Heading up towards the street market. Narrower streets than in Pana.

We were trying to find this church, got turned around, wandered about, and then came upon it backwards!
Great place to stop and grab a bench and some ice cream.
Lovely flowers in the garden by the church.
This young boy was playing in the water of the fountain... And avoiding his father by running around the base.
San Pedro is a fascinating town that seems to have two distinct sections: the gringo area nearest the docks, and the more local areas up the hill. There are some very talented artists in town, both local and gringo, and many walls were painted with murals.
Corn dragon?
I almost made my little sister's pop come out her nose when I said, "A werewolf with breasts!"

We were getting a kick out of all the religious murals as well. We had actually just walked down the road from "Cielo" (heaven.) We chose not to walk down to "Infierno" (hell) because it actually was a rather steep set of stairs!
Very colourful town!
View from San Pedro looking down on Lake Atitlan.
Wandering through a barrio. We had a trio of dogs following us -- mother, father, and puppy -- but they stopped when we came upon the brown dogs. That's the puppy there, the black & white. He wasn't scared of the new dogs, but his parents were!
Little sis posing with a giant bunch of bananas

More evidence of the rising lake waters of Atitlan.
Big sis photobombing my picture of little sis and the mural of purple mermaids. :D
Big sis insisting that I take a picture of Kettle Chips that she can't find back home. She ate them too!
We walked all over the town, up and down, round and round. (Hee hee, I'm a poet!) I had read about a little place called Art Cafe El Colibri (Art Café of the Hummingbird). I had gotten turned around and pretty gave up on finding it... when we saw a sign! We had meandered out to the end of the street by the water and strolled down narrower and narrower streets, until we were literally walking on a dirt path by a field.
Exploring the very edges of San Pedro, where the town meets the fields.
At the end of the field, there were horses to ride, and a friendly local man who said, "Hasta la vista!" when we passed on by.
We saw a tiny sign pointing the way... and there in the seemingly middle of nowhere was the Hummingbird Café! We found it!
Art Café el Colibri
We rested our weary feet, meet two sweet dogs and super friendly guy named Paul, and enjoyed beverages under the shade of the trees. It was a wonderful quiet spot for a break. And the funny thing was: when we left by the front entrance, it was right off a main road! Although I still believe it would be a bit hard to find as the sign is very small. But be sure to visit if you're in the area. :)
A bit mroe shopping and gawking at the wares and multi-cultural food of the main drag (oh! Falafels!), and then we headed back to the boat docks.
NOTE: On the way back to Panajachel from San Pedro, they ask for payment in advance. I think it's because they don't want people running off without paying once they get to "the city".
Sleepy kitty on a counter.
Kinda hard to take pictures from a moving boat!
Big sis happily took a tiny seat at the front of the boat on the way back to Panajachel.
Little sis admiring the view from the rather decrepit boat.
It was a super fantastic day in San Pedro La Laguna, The town is different than Pana, and although we enjoyed it very much, we all agreed that Pana is a better place to live for now.
It was also so great to get out on the lake and see the dramatic shoreline. You get a real sense of the steepness of the hills and volcanoes, and glimpses of mansions and hovels along the shore. Plus, we got back in time for a swim in the pool at the hotel before intense low clouds rolled in right about our heads! Truly this is paradise on top of the world. :D

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