I feel so at home in this hotel. Comfortable. Secure. Welcome. It feels as though we are staying with long time friends. We had to be up early for our full-day excursion, before breakfast was being served, and a hotel staff member STILL started up the stove and made us a beautiful breakfast of fried plantains, huevos, black beans, fresh fruit and freshly pressed orange juice! Of course with a cup of Guatemalan coffee. Casa Del Arco for the win!
After some confusion, we met our guide, Juan Pablo, just outside the hotel. With two other tourists in tow, we hopped into the van and made the drive to Chichicastenango! Since I am a new born baby, I slept most of the way. Put me in a moving vehicle with a temperature slightly above average and I will fall right to sleep.
Juan walked us through the main street of the Chichicastenango market and gave us a tour of the two churches. Walking down a side street, he pointed out the colourful graveyard and then let us go off on our our own, not without some sage advice on shopping at the different stalls. We had a good look around and picked up a few goodies to take home. I have started to take a few lessons from Trinh when it comes to bartering. Even though I have spent time in other places with the barter system, I always just fall short of a great deal. Trinh, on the other hand, is a ruthless negotiator. Needless to say, I will have a few less Quetzal than her at the end of our time in Guatemala.
From Chichicastenango, we headed for Lake Atitlan. A stunning lake (huge!) surrounded by volcanoes, essentially. Juan took us to a couple of spots for some photo ops with the lake, Panajachel being one of those stops. Back into the van for about an hour and then we stopped for a bite to eat before heading back to Antigua. Even though the day consisted of quite a bit of driving, it was absolutely worth it to fit in the market and the lake. We are only in Antigua for a few days, so we jam-packed our schedule. Juan walked us to the hotel door where we said our thank-you’s and goodbyes.
After dropping our wares off in the room, we headed out in search of coffee. Juan recommended Fat Cat coffee shop, which was unfortunately closed. But there was a silver lining! A few doors down is a bakery that makes fantastic banana bread! Huge loaves for 27 Quetzal (about $5.50 CAD). We shared some with our American friends back at the hotel as well as the hotel manager, Patty. And we still have lots of banana bread leftover for the next two days. Money well spent.
Side note: I picked up about eight of these massive blackberries for 2 Quetzal (approx 0.33 CAD) outside the restaurant where we stopped for a late lunch. They were the size of walnuts!