Today was a day that separated the tourists from the travelers. Linda and I worked hard to be travelers in a bus smattered with tourists. Our tour took us through the countryside of Guatemala, under the watchful eyes of huge active and dormant volcanos. Our destination was Lake Atitlán, where we were to load into a boat and motor to the end of the lake to a village called San Juan.
As the bus rumbled down the highway we gazed at the volcanos that poked into the sky all around us. Traffic came to a stop about 45 minutes into our trek. An accident had closed the road and we were forced to move at a snail’s pace along a fully clogged highway. We were travelers so we sat back and enjoyed our surroundings.
The accident put our tour behind schedule and our guide made some phone calls to alert the hotel. When we arrived in San Lucas Tolimán we were able to go to the hotel and eat lunch right away.
Our lunch was very good. They provided tortillas, beans, rice and then the main course of beef and chicken. Nothing fancy, but very flavorful.
We took some photos from the hotel patio, and then headed down to the dock and loaded onto the boat.
I think the boat was the original African Queen from the Bogart movie. It belched huge black diesel smoke from its engine and when the lone captain put it in gear, it shook like a cold wet dog. Our captain acted as deckhand and pilot, moving from dock line to dock line and then scrambling up the side of the boat to steer us out onto the windy lake.
As travelers, you have to adapt. The wind was so strong and the boat was so slow that the guides made the decision that we could not motor to Santiago Atitlán but we could go across the lake to San Antonio Palpó where we could see how the traditional people live and make the fabrics.
With the captain fighting the wind and waves, we rattled slowly across the bay. Vendors had been allowed to join us and were like fire ants trying to sell us their wares. Linda bought at bead hummingbird for five dollars. Later we purchased another one for three dollars. At one time I had three vendors working me, fortunately, all I had was two dollars and once they knew that, it was like having OFF on.
At our destination, the boat captain had to fight the wind and the local boat taxi drivers to find a place to moor the boat. This took several tries and it was very apparent that if the captain had some additional crew members to help, we would have offloaded much quicker. Working alone and against the wind, the poor man had his hands full. All we could do was watch.
We got off the boat and into a new swarm of vendors. Linda bought a beautiful table runner which she used to fend off more attempts at her money. We hiked up a street to the home of one of the fabric weavers and watched a demonstration on how they created the color dies for the yarns used to create the beautiful garments. This was very interesting, plus we got a chance to see how these people live.
Back on the boat our vessel belched smoke and shook its way slowly across the lake, back to the dock and our waiting bus.
We were way behind schedule now so the guide loaded us as quickly as possible and we headed back to the ship. On the way back we had to stop so that our bus driver could loosen the right rear brake pads on the bus. They were rubbing and that kept setting off an overheating alarm in the cockpit. Nothing to worry about, it just added to our late return.
When the tour was all over we climbed aboard the Viking Sun a full three hours late.