We got Dan at the airport without a hitch. It was really weird to be there, hanging out, knowing that in only a couple of weeks (then, down to a week, now), I'd be flying out. Saw some good gift prospects there, too, interestingly.
We spent that night in a friendly b&b in Guate, then in the morning, caught the direct(ish) bus to Panajachel, on Lago de Atitlán, had a nice lunch, fought off some vendors, and took a lancha to Jaibalito, and the Casa del Mundo. What a spectacular site! The hotel is high on a steep hillside overlooking the lake, with gorgeous views and very nice rooms. Unfortunately, the tone was a tad stuffy for us, and there were some ungenerous policies on the part of the management which kinda turned me off, but overall, it was lovely, and the food was delicious, and the sheets were mmm-mmm good! I'll return there for my honeymoon, I think. (Now, to find a partner who wants to honeymoon in Guatemala :)
The next morning (Saturday), we caught another lancha to a different town on the lake, San Marcos. This is a strange mix of new age center and Guatemalan village. It's a lovely setting, of course, with the new agey stuff being near the water in dense coffee groves and other foliage, and the village being set back a bit from the water. There were lots of nice looking, inexpensive, friendly places to stay -- we chose a place called La Paz, with cute little cabins and very comfy beds. There were places all over offering massage, reiki, cranio-sacral therapy and other such things, as well as crystal and incense stores, and a couple of (so we were told) highly-regarded meditation centers. The combination of new-agers and traditional village was VERY odd, and some of the folks there for the new-age end of things gave off a pretty snooty vibe, but overall, the village was very peaceful and lovely.
Sunday, did some wandering with my dad, and decided I need to pick some coffee beans to try to roast up a pot from berries. Unfortunately, didn't have a bag with me, so I only got a handful. The walk was lovely, with great views of the lake and volcanoes. What a spot! Followed the walk with a BRISK but nice swim :)
Monday, we moved to Panajachel, one of the shopping centers of Guatemala, where we, of course, ran into some of my local friends, found a more-expensive-than-expected but very nice hotel, and did some shopping. Dad and I went to a nature reserve, which had a butterfly farm, but, it turns out, also a very nice nature trail, complete with spectacular waterfall, challenging hike, and spider monkeys!! So cool.
Monday, I was feeling a bit sick in the digestive area, and I was worried it might be giardia, as both my dad and brother have come up with that in the last week, but mine seems to have moved through without other trouble *fingers crossed*
I resisted buying TOO many things in Pana, but I continue rounding out the gift list. Today, we're back in Xela -- once again, it's good to be home. Whenever I go away and come back, I realize how many good friends I have here -- what a gift.
Tomorrow, Xmas festivities with Claudia and Jet, going late into the night, and maybe Xmas day, we'll go see Return of the King (if the mall is open that day). I assume most internet places will be closed the next couple of days, so I'm likely to continue to be on spottily until my *gasp* return to the US late Tuesday night.
I can't believe I'm nearly done with my trip. I'm very excited to see people in the US, but, wow, am I gonna miss being here.