Category Archives: Central America

Killer Kayaking: Beauty and Peril on Lake Atitlán

Nov 6, 2012

Just before nine a.m., Dale and I visit the vague square of dirt next to the Hotel Aaculaax, where a sign advertises kayak rentals. It will cost us 25 quetzales (three dollars) per kayak per hour. Neither kayak is high quality. Dale’s is one of those tippy toy-kayaks in which the paddler sits perched on top with nowhere to press his knees or rest his back. Mine allows my butt to fit inside, but is so shallow my knees poke out. Dale must envy my apparent ability to rest my back against the lip of my kayak. But in fact, this offers no support, only a thin hard line of fiberglass digging into the scar from my recent back-surgery.

We shrug it off. Third-world rentals: what do we expect? Surely we can stand anything for an hour or two.

This is a tippy toy-kayak in which the paddler sits perched on top. (This is not Dale, however. I often don’t carry a camera when kayaking.)

Our paddle in the volcanic caldera of Lake Atitlán is tranquil at first. We round the lush hill called Cerro Tzankujil and skirt the pretty cove on the other side, enjoying a closer look at the homes of expats and Guatemala City weekenders. The houses are painted brightly as flowers, complementing the tropical scenery, though the owners would surely get kicked out of any Home Owners Association in America.

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Invaders in Paradise: Nature versus Us at Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan

November 5, 2012

As Dale starts the shower, built into the natural rock of a hillside above Lake Atitlán, a natural visitor drops in on him. A mouse falls from an unseen crevice overhead to land at his feet with a plop. The mouse is stunned for a moment, so Dale puts a bucket over him and calls me in to meet his new friend. When he lifts the bucket, the mouse lies very still, understandably leery of the giants chuckling overhead. We put the bucket back over him while we discuss what to do with him.

The mouse is stunned for a moment, unable to move, so Dale puts a bucket over him and calls me in to meet his visitor.

Our discussion is interrupted by a loud, wet kerplop, as a hairball falls before our eyes and lands next to the bucket hiding our captive.

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The Dying Lake and the Trampoline – What’s Living in Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán?

Nov 4, 2012

Today when my husband, Dale, and I leave our hotel, instead of turning left toward town, we turn right along the shoreline of Lake Atitlán. After only fifty feet, we spot the sign for the Reserva Natural del Cerro Tzankujil (Nature Reserve of Tzankujil Hill). A stone stairway leads to a loop trail, featuring a series of miradores, or viewpoints, amid tangled jungle and hanging flowers. It costs 15 quetzales, about two bucks each, to enter. The young guy who sells us our tickets says if we follow the loop to the left, we’ll see the trampolín first. We decide to turn right and save trampoline-jumping for last.

At the Reserva Natural del Cerro Tzankujil, a stone stairway leads to a loop trail featuring a series of miradores, or viewpoints.

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