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    Is This the Isthmus? Tour – Guatemala Part 8

    Friday, September 8, 2017
    Indian’s Nose, Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala

    The docks at Panajachel, Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    The docks at Panajachel, Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    A cloud-shrouded San Pedro volcano at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    A cloud-shrouded San Pedro volcano at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    Is this town built up enough for you fellas? San Pedro, Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    Is this town built up enough for you fellas? San Pedro, Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    Today around 11:00 am, I walked a few blocks over to the docks in Panajachel to catch a ferry across Lago Atitlan to the town of San Pedro. I must have just missed a boat, because I was the first person on board the one that was there. After 30 or 45 minutes, almost all of the seats were filled, prompting the captain to back out and pull away. Luckily, it was partly sunny, with mostly clear skies above and clouds only clustered around the volcanoes and hovering along the horizon all around the lake. After the grey, cloudy day yesterday, I was really happy there was any sun at all.

    The tuk-tuk-infested lanes of San Pedro, Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    The tuk-tuk-infested lanes of San Pedro, Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    A busy lane in San Pedro, Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    A busy lane in San Pedro, Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    During the 30-minute ride, the water was mostly pretty smooth with the occasional wake from another boat, causing some uplift and drop of the bow. Exiting the docks in San Pedro, I was blown away by the sheer amount of visual chaos in the form of myriad signs announcing  cafes, hostels, tour operators, etc. on the steep, narrow lanes that course like veins trough the hillside. Not long after I started trudging up the hill, my eye caught the office of Asoantour, where I met up with a short, elderly Guatemalan man wearing a cowboy hat. In the space of just a few moments, I booked a guide for 100 quetzals ($14) to lead me up to a lookout point called Indian’s Nose.

    Asoantour guide Armando leads the way toward Indian's Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    Asoantour guide Armando leads the way toward Indian’s Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    Asoantour guide Armando leads the way through some cornfields toward Indian's Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    Asoantour guide Armando leads the way through some cornfields toward Indian’s Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    My guide, a young man named Armando, then led me up through a maze of narrow lanes to the center of town, where we waited for a chicken bus that was sitting and due to leave in 30 minutes. I spent part of that time buying bananas, tortilla chips with salsa fresca and a fruit smoothie from three different food stalls. At one point, when I was struggling trying to deal with money while holding my umbrella and a water bottle, Armando offered to carry the latter two items in his backpack. After we boarded the bus, we proceeded out of the chaotic, narrow, paved streets of San Pedro onto an incredibly bumpy, rough dirt road.

    Asoantour guide Armando leads the way up the trail toward Indian's Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    Asoantour guide Armando leads the way up the trail toward Indian’s Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    A view of Santa Clara from the lookout point on Indian's Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    A view of Santa Clara from the lookout point on Indian’s Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    Passing through the towns of San Juan and Santa Clara, we then ascended a mountain road containing the tightest hairpin curves I’ve ever seen in my life. I have no idea how a chicken bus, which is actually a long, full-size school bus, could negotiate such a tight spot. Whenever another oncoming vehicle arrived at a hairpin curve at the same time as our chicken bus, one or both vehicles would have to stop, back up a bit and perform a two-point turn to make it past each other.

    Armando looks west from the observation deck on Indian's Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    Armando looks west from the observation deck on Indian’s Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    A view of San Juan from the lookout point on Indian's Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    A view of San Juan from the lookout point on Indian’s Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    As soon as we entered the village of Ciudad Santa Neuva Jerusalem, Armando motioned for me follow him out the front door of the bus. Right there, we entered the trailhead and walked on flat ground for a while past some cornfields and a cow that rushed us then greeted us with a really loud “Moo!” as we passed by. Luckily, that beast was chained up! With my luck, it would have been the world’s only meat-eating cow. After around 10 minutes, we started ascending a steep hill up through the jungle. The trail was really fun, boasting lots of technical features to step on and over like big rocks, logs and tires, as well as super steep man-made dirt stairs that were reinforced with thick tree branches.

    A little fire never hurt anyone at the lookout point on Indian's Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    A little fire never hurt anyone at the lookout point on Indian’s Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    The Happy Gate Man descends a rickety ladder on the trail down from Indian's Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    The Happy Gate Man descends a rickety ladder on the trail down from Indian’s Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    At one point, we stopped at a rustic wooden gate where we encountered a very cheerful, jovial old man who laughed constantly. From what I could gather, he owns the property that Indian’s Nose is located on. After letting us through the gate, the man closed it behind himself and followed me and the guide up the trail. The further we climbed, the steeper and steeper the trail got. I started to feel like a mountain goat. After a few more minutes, we reached the top of the lookout point called Indian’s Nose. The views of Lago Atitlan and the towns, hills and mountains around it were stunning. Even the volcanoes were partly visible, although the tops were shrouded in white, fluffy clouds. I was super happy that it was partly sunny.

    Sticks and fences may break my wenches, but shame will never spurt me.
    Sticks and fences may break my wenches, but shame will never spurt me.

    Armando jumps on a chicken bus near Indian's Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    Armando jumps on a chicken bus near Indian’s Nose at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    I was surprised that only a couple of other people were up there. Then again, most tourists do the hike at 4:00 am to catch the sunrise. After spending about a half hour admiring the spectacular views from super rustic wooden benches and an observation deck–both made out of tree branches–we made our way back down. After saying goodbye to the Happy Gate Man, we hiked back maybe a half mile past the spot where we got off the chicken bus to wait for another one back to San Pedro. After a half hour, it arrived, and back down the harrowing hairpin curves we went, our bodies bobbing wildly and my teeth chattering on the bumpy, bombed out road the whole way.

    Back in San Pedro at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    Back in San Pedro at Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    A tourist couple busts open an umbrella on the ferry back to Panajachel, Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    A tourist couple busts open an umbrella on the ferry back to Panajachel, Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    Two miniature tostadas in Panajachel, Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.
    Two miniature tostadas in Panajachel, Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala.

    Arriving back in San Pedro, Armando walked me all the way back to the docks, where a boat back to Panajachel was leaving right away. I was trying to get the name of the Happy Gate Man from Armando, but he didn’t understand what I was saying, so he opened Google translate on his phone, on which I was frantically typing. Right then, a man on the boat grumpily scolded me to climb aboard, so I did. A couple of minutes after the boat pulled away from the dock, I realized that, amid all of the rush, I forgot to retrieve my umbrella from Armando’s backpack. I was bummed, because it was a good and expensive one. As we passed the halfway mark on the lake, a torrential downpour ensued, prompting a tourist couple sitting in the front to bust open an umbrella to block the driving, horizontal rain that was blowing in.

    Words and photos ©2017 Arcane Candy.

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