On my first day in Guatemala I was woken up by the intense heat. I’d spent the night sleeping surrounded by 3 fans but still woke up drenched with sweat. I took a shower, and set out to explore my new surroundings. After a quick lap of the island town of Flores, I flagged down a kid passing by in a launch and arranged to be taken on a tour. I took this shot as we returned to the boats after our first stop, a breathtaking hike to a viewpoint looking out over the Lago Peten Itza.
On my first day in Guatemala I planned on taking an easy boat tour around the lake. As it turned out, it was pretty hard work. Our first stop was the mirador offering a view back over the island town of Flores, where I was staying. I agreed to do this with no concept of what getting to the top entailed.
In most climates it probably would have been a lovely stroll. In Guatemala, carrying a backpack full of camera gear, it was an arduous half hour trek. My guide skipped along with ease as I panted and sweat my way to the top. Still though, the view from the top offered an interesting vantage point of the town in the lake below.
Tikal was hot, really really really hot. The room I stayed in didn’t have any air-conditioning, all I had was two little fans. So, I’d have a few beers and read a bit of George Orwell’s 1984 to get me to sleep. This worked to get me to sleep; nothing could keep me asleep. As the sun began to peak up over the jungle, the heat started to climb and I rose out of bed. One morning, with nothing else to do, I set out with my camera gear and got today’s photo of a small boat dock with canoes available for rent tied up to it.
After arriving at Lake Atitlan, having left Antigua very early in the morning (a recurring theme of this trip was getting up early), we were rushed quickly to a waiting launch and took off across the lake. As we skimmed across the calm waters of Lake Atitlan, I was looking at the volcanoes growing up from the lakes edge.
As you know, I’ve visited Lake Como in Italy before. That morning, as I took in Lake Atitlan, all I could think was that a quote I’d read that morning was spot on:
“Lake Como, it seems to me, touches on the limit of permissibly picturesque, but Atitlán is Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing.” – Aldous Huxley
After arriving at our first stop I immediately sought a photo of the small boat dock and looming volcano over the water. I wanted to catch the cloud that seemed to be snagged on top of the volcano before it disappeared.
On my boat trip around the lake, my last stop was ARCAS, a center for trafficked wild animals. While there I met some, a parrot that says “hola” and two baby jaguars.
I also took what felt like my first good photo of the trip, of a sunken launch off their dock. There was an Australian girl there fishing to feed an otter they’d just gotten in who said that the boat got damaged and they couldn’t afford to fix it so they sank it there.
Following a grueling, but short, hike up to a viewpoint overlooking Lake Peten Itza and the island city of Flores we marched back down to our launch to continue onto the beach. It was hot and I was looking forward to getting back to my bottle of water under the shade of the launch. But, before I could do that I decided to stop for a photo of these two launches, as they waited patiently for their passengers. Mine was the smaller one on the right.
My first stop on my boat trip was to visit a viewpoint overlooking the island city of Flores. I knew it would be up hill, but I didn’t know how far uphill. I was also shocked by the heat of the day as it was only about 9am. It was at this point that carrying my camera backpack was not going to work in this climate. My back was on fire.
After a hard slog up to the mirador, I concluded there wasn’t a lot to see, except for this view looking back at my temporary home. The hills in the background were all covered in dense jungle.
On my first day in Flores I planned on taking it easy. I was going to sleep in and then take a tour of the lake. Little did I know that I’d wake up at 6am and not be able to get back to sleep because my room was absolutely boiling!
I lay around for about an hour before giving up and going for breakfast in my hostel. Then, it was time to do something. I grabbed my backpack full of camera gear and made my way down to the docks to procure a boat for the day. When I arrived at the water there weren’t any boats about. Then, a kid was passing by and called out to me. Stretching my Spanish abilities to the limit, I arranged a price to visit two viewpoints, a beach, and an animal refuge center called ARCAS.
As we sped out of Flores I snapped the below photo of my new guide.
Today’s photo is another shot from Lake Como with a sailboat dwarfed by the surrounding mountains that rise, almost vertically, from the water’s surface. Can’t write much tonight as I need to get packing. I’m off to the Bahamas tomorrow for a meeting then taking a few days off in Florida. Don’t have a big enough bag to take all my camera gear at the moment so have some tricky decisions to make.