Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Lago de Atitlan
Since our arrival in Guatemala all we’ve heard from the locals is how much there is to see and do in their wonderful country. As the weekend quickly approached we made our decision: we would go to the Guatemalan gringo capital—Panajachel, a town that sits above the shores of Lago de Atitlan (Atitlan Lake) while volcanoes tower over the lake. The staff at the community center jumped on board, and they were calling hostels (getting a non-gringo price), finding bus routes, and recommending activities.
Friday afternoon we were taken by staff to the bus stop. They were told a direct bus to “Pana” would leave at 1:30. Since we had ten to fifteen minutes, we were taken on a mini-tour of the district. The time quickly passed, and we were blocks away. We finally asked, something to the effect of, “shouldn’t we get to the bus.” We were assured the bus never leaves on time. At 1:45 we pulled up to the bus stop. The bus was long gone. Ooops. Fear not. Our driver took off down the roads, following the typical bus route, as we craned our necks to look at each bus we passed. Veering in and out of traffic, we finally found it, flagged it down (which isn’t uncommon), and hopped on. A few uneventful hours later, we arrived at the lake.
Most of Saturday was spent at a nature reserve next to Pana. We went on a 45 minutes hike full of swinging bridges, animals we had never seen, most notably monkeys, and a striking waterfall plummeting through the forest. After the hike, we enjoyed the reserve’s butterfly sanctuary and swimming in the lake at their private beach.
While the scenery is one-of-a-kind, we couldn’t help but enjoy the English-speaking American population at least as much as the natural setting. Whether it was an Oregonian lawyer turned guitar player, a middle-aged coffee shop owner, or a young woman holding down the fort at a used bookstore, the similar accents and stories were quite a joy.
But, at present, we now find ourselves back at “the center”, where we struggle to understand five year olds; we’re pretty sure they’re verbally advanced. We have finished conducting observations of therapists and ninos, and now are moving onto to the substance of our work here. Big ideas abound: ramps for wheelchairs, yellow lines to demarcate steps, and more.