Friday, July 17, 2015

Five Days in Panajachel With My Sisters

My two awesome sisters came all the way from Canada to Guatemala to visit me last week! It was an amazing five days of fun, laughs, and adventure. Not surprisingly, I was too busy enjoying myself to remember to take pictures, but I will post what I have.
Little sis and big sis at El Patio restaurant on Santander. The local woman is tying the scarf in my sister's hair. 
Our friend and self-proclaimer chauffeur, Victor! Tuk-tuk #88. Super-great guy drove us back and forth all week.
DAY ONE: Walk down Santander, gawk at the lake, dinner of pupusas at Chero's, and meet the gang at Gringos Locos.
Of course, my poor gringa sisters got MOBBED by vendors as we walked down Santander the first day. They both handled it with varying degrees of amusement and (eventually) irritation -- pretty much the same way I feel! This young lady wrapped big sister's hair in a scarf, and she was so happy that I bought it for her!
Lots of shopping!
My sisters tried very hard to not buy anything the first day -- on my advice -- but we did pick up a few things. There is always so much to see on Santander! So many beautiful things... but you end up walking down the road and seeing something even more beautiful. It's important to walk the whole street, plus along the lakefront, before committing to a purchase. Plus, you've got to have the ol' Pana bargaining skill... of simply walking away. It's shocking how much the price can drop when you just show interest, ask the price, then sadly say, "No" and walk off. Little sis got the hang of this pretty quick and made some great deals! Big sis is more of a soft touch (like Bert) and insisted on giving her money away to all the street kids. They loved her! Every day when they saw her, they'd run up to her with big smiles. She wanted to take them all home with her.  :)
Big sis had a coconut (only Q5, less than a dollar). I was making a face, of course, while little sis looked on. 
DAY TWO: Visit my place, walk to the lake, walk up to the Mirador (finally sun!), dinner at Jose Pinguino's and more fun at Gringos Locos.
The second day was the day to visit my apartment. So much fun! We went down to the park at the lake and went for a swim, picked avocados, and had a lovely lunch of beans and rice at home. Then we hiked up to the mirador for a grand view of Lake Atitlan.
Big sis was super excited to see real coffee trees! These are growing down by our park.
A cloudy day on Lake Atitlan, but big sis was still loving it!
Picking avocados after our swim. We were all successful in getting one!
Um, big sis, that's not ripe yet!
Little sis is a master of avocado picking!
Walking down from the lookout. We were actually grateful for clouds as I'm sure we would have been quite hot and sunburnt without them. 
We did a lot of walking on Day Two! We ended up footsore and happy at Jose Pinguino's restaurant on Santander. We sat down to peruse the menu... and had few laughs!
Trying to decide what to eat... so many great options and good prices too!
Cheese FUNdue with MASHrooms!
Our favourite English phrase was: "bathed in the souce of mushrooms!" Yummy.
Wonderful carrot soup as a starter.
These are "spears of Lomito". Absolutely delicious!
We had an interesting time at dinner. We ordered our food and then realized that it was getting darker and darker. A woman came around and put a candle on our table. We thought, "Oh, what a romantic place." But soon enough, we were thinking, "Um, it's too dim to eat our food." Finally, we clued in: the power was out!! So we sat and ate by candlelight and listened to the lovely ladies playing the marimba in near-darkness. They sounded wonderful! I don't think they missed a note.
After-dinner drinks at Gringos Locos and a serenade by our friend, Julio. 
DAY THREE: Sleep in, more shopping including a visit to the market, reverse dinner, and a show by our friend, Georgy.
Finding more bargains and souvenirs. We bought gifts for everyone... including ourselves!
The beginning of our "reverse dinner" -- drinks and dessert of fried plantains (plus some papas fritas) at Restaurante El Cayuco (Canoe Restaurant)
We had the main course of our dinner at the street food stand at the intersection of Santander and Principale. I had had their gringas before and loved them, and my sisters were brave enough to want to try street food. They were delicious! While we were ordering, the street boys came up to big sis, laughing and goofing off, and we decided to buy them a gringa to share. They were so happy! We left them arguing over which portion was whose, while we went up to Gringos Locos to eat and enjoy a lovely ukelele performance by Georgy. You can see one of her songs on Youtube here.

DAY FOUR: San Pedro -- visit this page for the details.

DAY FIVE: Last day, oh no! Resting, last minute shopping, relaxing at the hotel, sad farewells.
Big sis wasn't feeling too well (I really hope it wasn't the street food!) so we took it easy on this day. Actually, we had planned this to be a day of rest anyway, but now it also included perusing the pharmacies and health food stores for remedies! Ah, the joy of traveling.
Trying to take a serious picture outside of Crossroads. Big sis, little sis, and me!
We went back to the hotel and lounged about at the pool and hot tub, explored the beautiful gardens, and saw a surprise in a tree!
The view from my sisters' hotel room at Hotel Atitlan.
View of the hotel from my sisters' patio door. 

Bert and little sis in the hot tub at the hotel.
The grounds of Hotel Atitlan are amazing. They have extensive gardens, and many birds in cages both in the gardens and near the restaurant. They have weddings here, and people also come just to eat at the restaurant and tour the grounds. Entry fee is Q55, I think.
Toucanet in a cage near the restaurant.
Rose gardens.
Bert and little sis exploring the paths through the gardens.
Günther Goose! He ruled the duck pond. :)
Poor bachelor rooster had no hens. There were GIANT koi in the pond to amuse him though.
A toucan in the gardens. They also had parrots that said, "Hola!"
Macaws checking us out from their high cage. There were peacocks below them.
Surprise! A wild Geoffroy's spider monkey in a tree in the hotel gardens.
I asked the gardeners if it was a pet but they said, "No."
Seeing a monkey was a total surprise! We had originally planned to go to the Atitlan Nature Reserve and see the ones up there, but we didn't get around to it. Turns out we didn't have to go anywhere! 
Here is a short video of the monkey coming down the tree to check us out. 

Be sure to hop over to my Youtube Channel to check out my other videos, including one of crazy dancers on stilts walking up Santander!
Hasta luego, mis amigos. :)

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