Days 6 & 7: Magical Lago de Atitlán

Adventures abound in Panajachel and San Pedro La Laguna.

Day 6, 9:15am

Today started off real chill. We spent the entire morning just talking, eating, and generally lounging inAdriana’s family home. For brekkie, we ate the same thing as yesterday: tortillas, guacamole, black beans, with some plátanos we bought from the market yesterday. It was legit delicious and yet, so simple. Mmm, muy rico. (That’s literally what one of the family’s parrot will say after a delicious meal). Love. It. So. Much. $0

Day 6, 12:30pm

Half of us were hungry so we ate homemade tamalitos de chipilin. The Hungry Half (aka Gerard y yo) devoured these baby tamales, eating them with this morning’s guacamole and frijoles volteados. We had two versions of them, one is just masa and the other is infused with chipilin leaves, a plant native to Mexico and Central America. The herbal taste is often an acquired taste, but Hungry Half found it oh-so delicious. We were in a happy place and ready to hit the road.

Day 6, 6:45pm

We made it to Panajachel at Lago de Atitlán! This is the entry point to the other pueblos surrounding the lake. After a trip through a long, winding, and poorly-maintained road, we arrived safe and sound. Calle Santander is the main drag where all of the restaurants and vendors are located. It was so beautiful albeit touristy; everywhere I turned, I saw a tourist or two or three. We’re staying in a beautiful hotel right by the water that triples as a convention center and wedding venue.

After some roaming for dinner, we arrived at Chinitas, a Malaysian-owned restaurant where there was a vegan alternative (tofu or tempeh) for nearly every food option. I was tempted by the Kambodian salad, but to taste the local flavor, opted for the jocón, a traditional Guatemalan green sauce made with tomatillos and cilantro. For appetizers, I shared the spring rolls, which was stuffed with glass noodles, mushrooms, shredded carrots, and alfalfa sprouts. The real winner was the tamarind sauce, which was the right amount of sweet, sour, and tangy. For the jocón, I found the cilantro to be overpowering and the sauce to be watery than hoped for, but I found it to be a generally filling meal with tempeh, veggies, and brown rice. We were all in for desserts (chocolate cake and plantain and coconut-filled empanada) and called it a night. $14.02

Day 6 Total: $14.02

Day 7, 7am

Early bird gets the worm. Not a very vegan idiom. We were the first ones to grab a hearty breakfast at the hotel restaurant by the lake. This was probably the best complimentary breakfast I’ve ever had, despite me skipping on the oatmeal, eggs, and omelet cus duh, vegan. I was super content with the plethora of fruits (watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple), black beans, bread, and sweet plantains. Nearly eight hours of sleep plus coffee? Ready for the day. $0

Day 7, 2pm

What 👏 a 👏 morning 👏 We made it to the Nature Reserve in Pana (short for Panajachel) where we go ziplining. O-M-G. Dreams do come true, after all. I now giggle at the thought that I was expecting a full-fledged safety training. They strapped us in and had us all do a short demo, and off we went. We hiked for ~15 minutes, walking through a waterfall, hanging bridges, and even an enclosed area where monkeys and raccoons are habituating. We reached our first zipline and it is the longest and highest line they have. We were literally hovering far above the tree canopy. Once I got on it, I was in pure heaven and everything was magnificent— from the sparkling blue lake on my right to the treetops far below my feet. There were eight ziplines in total and it was pure bliss. We even did the optional ropes course at the end, which felt like an episode of Beastmaster.

Once done, we checked out of our hotel and ventured to Deli Jasmine. I was low-key skeptical by all of the breakfast foods, but the waft of fresh pancakes whetted my appetite. I found myself infatuated by everything I consumed: my behemoth of a drink (tamarindo), hummus/pita/tabouli platter, and guacamole with tortilla chips. Everything here was delicious! Happy happy joy joy — Ren & Stimpy style. $8.89

Day 7, 7pm

We took a bumpy trip via lancha across the lake to San Pedro La Laguna, a village frequently visited for its lively social scene. After checking into our hostel (private room and bathroom, please!), we explored off the slightly-beaten path.

Along the way, we stumbled upon a restaurant called Inner Indian Cafe & Curiosities, tucked a good distance away from the main street. Owned by an American, the restaurant boasted of Indian food and vegan pancakes. We had it all: the chana masala, the saag paneer, the rice and chutney (with tortilla triangles!), and the dessert pancakes with blackberry, dragon fruit, and apple butter jams. For our Indian dishes, the owner Eric even brought us a homemade sauce to heighten the heat of the food. I absolutely loved the food and the overall intimacy of the restaurant — we were the only ones there so we had the chance to chat with the owner and employee working there, hearing how they came to live in Guatemala, and exchanging thoughts on cooking. The meal was absolutely delicious, and we wandered through the dark hilly streets back to our hostel so satisfied. $9.05

Day 7 Total: $17.94