Lago de Atitlán is a gorgeous location, a large deep lake surrounded by three volcanoes. There are many small settlements around the lake, all accessible by water taxi and some by road. At 5,000 feet, it’s cool and comfortable. Unfortunately, crime appears to be rampant everywhere. The guide books are full of warnings; I received a warning on this website from Fritz; and travelers as far way as Costa Rica warned me about Guatemala. Upon arrival, I had fresh reports of theft and robbery. I spoke directly with people who had problems with large amounts of money being stolen. I had my drug store reading glasses stolen after leaving them unattended for five minutes; I challenged the woman with her baby that was the only one there, but she denied it. The night before, a young woman had been robbed with an exacto knife at her throat; I spoke with her traveling companion.
Additional reports were even scarier. Armed bandits held up 45 Guatemalan tourists at gunpoint while they were climbing a volcano. A group of German tourists were robbed at Tikal by bandits shooting automoatic rifles in the air.
Despite the security issues, I enjoyed the views, kayaked, swam and visited neighboring villages by taking a water taxi (as in I did NOT walk). I stayed in San Marcos, a heaven for New Age hippies. Druming, dreadlocks, hemp clothing, beards, beads, pyramids and yoga classes are all in abundance. Some of the New Age dress rivaled those of the indigenous people. The community is small enough that we quickly me some people. I had some interesting conversations about life, poverty, government, crime and travel. Eight of us agreed to pool our resources and hired a shuttle to Coban.
If I come back, I plan to retreat to a self-contained, secure, resort community to focus on relaxing, vacation style. It is a shame.
Getting There–took a shuttle directly from La Antigua to Panajachel and a then a water taxi to the dock of our hotel in San Marcos la Laguna.
Lodging–Stayed at Posade de Schumann. We rented a small cottage made of stone, located in a garden facing the lake. The location was good. The restaurant was overpriced and the staff somewhere between indifferent and difficult to communicate with.