Santa cruz de la laguna
Yes, it is real, and they are located in Atitlan Lake.
The next day after Dia de los Muertos, I made my way to Atitlan Lake because I heard about this place called, Santa Cruz La Laguna.
I took a tuk-tuk from Santiago Sacatepequez to the bus station, and headed to La Antigua, from there I was going to take a shuttle to Panajachel. There are many shuttle companies to choose, but my friend, that had done the journey before, recommend me one of the cheapest ones in town. When traveling through Central America, you will notice that time is not the same as back home, you are not in a different dimension, it is just the way Central Americans handle themselves with time. So don’t freak out if the shuttle says 1:30 P.M., and arrives at 2, or 2:15 P.M.. They haven’t forgot about you!
So, the ride takes about 2 hours and a half, and a little before 2 hours your eyes will catch the first glimpses of Atitlan Lake, let me warn you that with the volcanos that surround the lake, 3 of them in total, Volcan San Pedro, Volcan Toliman and Volcan Atitlan, plus the lake below, the view will take your breath away.
After 30 more minutes riding alongside mountains and in the middle of a great scenery, it rests Panajachel, it is a small town that connects with other roads that lead to other towns. But it also connect with other 14 towns that encircle the lake.
Santa Cruz de La Laguna is one of them. I took one of the public boats that’s Q10, a little bit more than one US Dollar. The boat has a capacity of 10-12 passengers, and my captain, Santos, respects that rule. To get to my destination that it is located on the West part of Santa Cruz, and it’s called, Los Elementos Adventure Center and Spa, I had to travel on the boat for about 15-20 minutes, and I was welcomed with an out of The Lord of the Rings panoramic.
The first sight you will get when off the boat will be of two enormous mountains separated by a channel or canyon that leads into the jungle mysteries. The owner of the place Lee, he is from The States, and is super relaxed, respectful, and easy going. His property holds 4 complete and independent rooms, and the first thing I notice when passing through the gate were a couple of SUP’s, and made me realize how much I’ve missed the waves, I just love to be close to the water again. He also rents kayaks, and keeps them in great shape.
His wife Elaine has a massage and haircut business running from home, and is it one of the best rated in Trip Advisor. After a few days in their house, and after a few months of having a mess in my head I decided to give it a go, and I must tell you that I don’t regret the decision.
First thing Lee and I did after I left my baggage was to walk downtown Santa Cruz, which is at the top of a hill that overlooks Atitlan Lake. On one of the cliffs overlooking the lake there is a Capacitation Center that offer jobs and courses to the people of the community, this place also holds a crafting store, and sells art and fabric made by the locals. In its last level it is a restaurant that offers mostly traditional food from the area. Prices in this whole place are fair, and food and smoothies are delicious.
Santa Cruz is a quiet town and offers mostly a calm atmosphere to their visitors, a few, if not a couple, bars are in front of the lake, and the hotels offer accommodations from as much as US $8 for a dorm, obviously a night in a private room would go for at least US $12.
I ended up staying in La Iguana Perdida for a few nights while teaching English to some of the staff of CECAP, a capacitation center for Santa Cruz La Laguna community. It is an hotel runned by foreigners that volunteer for the season, and who give life to the place. Every night they offer dinner in a way that it feels like a family meeting with everyone sitting with all the other guests in the same table, and have a laugh and have a great time socializing. What it’s great about it is that they also offer the vegan option in each of these every night dinners.
La Iguana Perdida is one awesome place to end the night, there are open mic nights, and people get dressed up on saturdays, and some of the staff playing instruments night. There is a little bit of everything for every taste.
The town next to Santa Cruz La Laguna it’s called Jaibalito, and the only access is through either a boat or a 30 minutes walk. It is a small fishing village in front of the lake, with the mountains on the side. It is, as all the other towns around the lake, a cool weather place, there are a couple places to hang out in the morning and in the afternoon after heading back to Santa Cruz. The cool thing about Santa Cruz is that there are many nature activities to do during one staying, for example there are a couple places that rent kayaks and SUP’s, there are many trails that lead to the mountains and to the waterfalls, so there is always something to do, and in the end one realizes how times flies by in places that are as mellow and chill as Santa Cruz.
While I was there I was lucky enough to find La Isla Verde, a hotel at the end of the west side of Santa Cruz that has the best smoothies and nachos I’ve tried in Guatemala. So many different ingredients to choose while enjoying the view of the volcanoes, and the music from the place.
I’m looking forward to make my way back to this fantastic place at the shores of Lake Atitlan.
Visit to Jaibalito of Santa Cruz de La Laguna
Santiago and its kites
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