Monday, February 15, 2010

A Weekend Away! (and the sunburn to prove it)

So let's see, I think I have officially been in Guatemala for over eight weeks, and six of them have been at NPH. During those six weeks, I have not had a chance to take a single full weekend to travel. That's right folks, I have been in the same place for six weeks straight. Definitely not like me.

But this weekend, I got back on travel track!

I know the experience of this year involves a lot of things. Some of them are making a home at NPH and learning to slow down just a little bit (and actually being in one place for 13 months). But another huge part of it for me is travel and trips -- I'm talking serious adventures. Come on, I only live once.

So while my first two months contained a lot of transitions, lanugage-learning, and just generally getting a grip on this thing we're now calling life here, this weekend marked the return of always-on-the-go Carrie, and it's good to be back. :)

Destination: Panajachel, on Lake Atitlan (some say, the most beautiful lake in the world)

Friday morning, NPH celebrated Día del Cariño, or Valentine's Day, by canceling classes and hosting a school-wide party! There were hilarious dance-offs, serenades, and poetry readings from kids, and the school building was covered in paper hearts and cards.

Weekend travel buddy Cheryl and I took our one free Friday afternoon a month and headed out of town after the Día del Cariño celebrations. Not before, however, I took time to get a really cool sunburn on the back of my left shoulder. Boatneck shirts and camera case straps do not go well together in places where the sun is this strong. Awesome.

A few hours later, a few chicken buses later, and only a few U.S. dollars later, we arrived in Panajachel! Nicknamed "Gringotenango" for the number of foreigners who end up there, Pana was the place to head if you were a hippie in the 1960s. Since then, the hippie waves have died down (only a little bit), and the town has remained absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful cobblestone streets hug the water, and the town looks out across the lake at the volcanoes of Lake Atitlan. The restaurant selection is also incredible -- a huge perk.

It was the perfect relaxing, lakeside weekend. We ate like kings, spent an entire day laying by the pool, took advantage of our cable TV to get back in touch with the world and watch some Olympics, and slept like 14 hours each night. Ahhhh. So nice.

So here's a little photo tour of the trip to Pana. I apologize that a lot of the pictures are of food...or cleaned plates...but hey, it's an accurate representation of the weekend. Enjoy!

Welcome to our funky, but very nice hotel. It looks like something you would find in California during the 1970s. I especially liked these giant sliding glass doors into all the rooms -- and the bright yellow!

Faux fireplace in the room hahaha.

TV with cable!!! We probably wouldn't have cared too much, BUT it was the weekend of the Olympics. We just had to watch that Opening Ceremony. Strangely, we were getting tons of U.S. channels, but they were all from the Atlanta area. I'm very caught up on my local Atlanta news now.

Our absolutely amazing pool. We sat right there in those chairs for most of Saturday. My sunburn (in addition to my cool one from my shirt and camera strap) proves it.

Now out in Panajachel! Calle Santander, the main street of Pana.

Markets, markets, everywhere, selling lots of pretty things.

Gorgeous Pana along the water.

We were both incredibly intrigued and incredibly confused by the fake animals you see on the beach. We think they were trying to trap tourists into paying for a photo as they hopped off their tour boats. What a giant plastic horse and giant plastic lion have to do with Panajachel beats me.

And now for the food photos...

We ate 3 meals (one every day) at Guajimbo's, my new favorite restaurant in all of Guatemala. It's Uruguayan food, the portions are huge, it's delicious, and it's a great deal. Plus, the menu translations are hilarious. This chicken dish was really good, but mostly because it was "a tasty breast of a plump and obese chicken." HAHAHAHAHA.

Yummmm...breakfast at Guajimbo's. All this for about $3.50.

Bobby told me I HAD to go to El Horno, a bakery on Pana's main street. We went, and it was as amazing as he said. I forgot to take a photo until I had already inhaled my carrot cake, so this was all that was left.

We chose this restaurant for the view, and we learned our lesson. The service...not so good. I kid you not: we saw the girl leave and come back with the potatoes they used to make our order of french fries. We couldn't believe it; it took about 40 minutes for the fries. BUT, such a pretty view, right??

So fun, and I can't wait for the next weekend trip! I have a pretty serious "to visit" list now going too. :)  

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