En route to Panajachel, Lago de Atitlan, Chichicastenango is a cute town in Guatemala, famous for its Wednesday and Saturday market which is said to be the largest in the country.  After 4 hours of driving around the town with Sarah and Wilson, all we knew was that accommodation was going to be a problem.  It seemed impossible to find a hotel with enough parking to secure two rigs, and for a reasonable price.  We decided to pack it in and continue to Lago de Atitlan only after noticing the driving time to the lake was less than an hour.  The lake is surrounded by three volcanoes and several villages, which attracts a ton of tourists to the area.  The views of the volcanoes looming over the massive 8 km long lake are breathtaking.


Panajachel was the first town we stopped at.  It has a great main street filled with trinket stores, coffee shops, and restaurants.  After several days with no wifi and being off the beaten track it was refreshing to be in a touristy area again!  Foods that we hadn’t eaten in months were available such as hummus, peanut butter, natural yogurt, salads, and brown rice.  There were a few health food stores in town so we stopped to stock up on hard to find items.  The first night we camped across from the Hotel Vision Azul on a large grassy field right on the lake, with a fantastic view of the volcanoes.  The second night we received a flyer that indicated there would be a 24 hour electronic dance party at our campsite, so after we remembered that we left our glow sticks and licorice hats at home we decided to drive 5 minutes up the road and camp at the Atitlan Nature Reserve instead.  They have room for both tent camping in a grassy area and vehicle camping including use of the bathroom in the visitor’s centre (with warm showers!).  As our camping fee included entrance to the nature reserve, we did a quick hike through the Nature Reserve, saw some monkeys, and visited the epic butterfly reserve.

Main Street in Panajachel.140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-1 140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-2 140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-3 140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-4 140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-5

Camp spot at the Atitlan Nature Reserve.140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-7

These locals were from Guatemala City on a camping trip.  They were pretty excited about our rooftop tent!  And about the Doors, apparently.  They were also slightly intoxicated from the evening before…140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-8

The Butterfly Reserve was a must-see. 140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-10140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-9140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-11 140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-12140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-13

This way to the monkeys…140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-16

This guy was looking pretty stoked to be hanging out in this tree.140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-14

And then this one was giving me the creepy Sasquatch stare while having his private parts hanging out.140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-15

The park was littered with suspension bridges.  Wilson may have been shaking them back and forth on purpose…140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-17 140331_DeskToGlory_Panajachel-18

In Acul an exhaust hanger on the truck broke, and Richard scabbed it back on temporarily with some bailing wire we found in town.  After running around Panajachel trying to find a universal exhaust hanger and having no luck, Richard decided to get one welded on by a local mechanic.  Now, we all know the consequences of allowing Latin American mechanics to touch your vehicle (Brad van Orden, your voice entered both of our heads loud and clear, and many times during this episode).  What began as a simple task turned into a long and drawn out 5 hour fiasco (at the mechanic “shop” – a.k.a. on the side of the road where we were being threatened with parking tickets by the local police) where the fix was better than the bailing wire, but definitely not as good as we would have liked.  Currently it is in a permanent-temporary state of repair.  This means that it works for now but Richard’s not really happy with it.  Add it to the list of maintenance we’ll be dealing with down the road.  Next time we are definitely going to just borrow a shop and a welder and deal with it ourselves in significantly less time (FYI, the complete exhaust had originally taken Richard less than 3 hours to install, including a trip to a muffler shop to get the pipe bent).  Lesson learned: there’s nothing like 5 hours of wasted time to reinforce something you already know.  Maybe it was all worth it to listen to Guns and Roses on repeat…