Thursday, August 12, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010: Journey to Atitlan

We left at 8:30 am for a much needed Gero group vacation for the weekend. After loading into 2 camionetas (or vans) we headed out to Lago de Atitlan for a little getaway. Atitlan is a famous, amazingly beautiful lake set between 3 volcanoes, with towns of different Mayan tribes surrounding the lake. Many of these towns are only accessible by boat or on foot, hiking through the steep hills and cliffs. The lake is also a spiritual retreat for people of many religions like Catholics, Mormons, and Muslims.

During the 2 hour ride, we encountered quite a few mudslides and places where the road was washed away, leaving a small patch to cross with a view straight down the edge of a cliff where the rest of the road once was. I’m not a fan of heights or crazy road trips, so I was a little nervous. The driver seemed to know what he was doing though, so I was able to remain calm.

We arrived in Panajachel after a ride down the side of a very steep hill. Immediately the place just felt calm and serene. Something about being near the water mellows people out. Our group leader told us we had to triple up in rooms, so I decided to stay with Joy and Nicki, people I haven’t yet mentioned. Joy is from New Mexico, she’s in her last year of OT, and she’s done some crazy jobs in her life like working on an Alaskan fishing boat (who does that?!). Nicki is an OT student at St. Louis University, super sweet and one of the youngest girls in our group… 21 I think.

After lunch and getting settled in our room, Joy, Nicki, and I went out to see the strip of stores and market stalls along the main road. This man saw us admiring his ashtrays made of Coke cans, so he started talking to us, trying to sell us something. We immediately noticed he was wasted, so I asked him if he knew of a good bar in the area. He reached in his pocket to offer us a drink of his ethanol-flavored liquor, when it slipped out of his hand and shattered on the floor. We took that as our cue to run, so we left him looking so sad that he couldn’t finish whatever he was drinking. I’m sure that was for the best because it didn’t look like he needed it!