Saturday, February 18, 2012

Boats across Lake Atitlan

7AM - Boats across Lake Atitlán
There is something fascinating going on at the dock where boats leave to carry passengers across Lake Atitlán. Many men are there who engage tourists supposedly to help them with their passage across the lake. However, help is not the thing that these men do. These men are there to over charge unsuspecting tourists for the fare to cross the lake.

In fact, passengers actually board the ferry boats without paying any fare in advance. The fare is paid upon reaching the destination, as a passenger disembarks the ferry.

Everybody seems to know that hoodwinking tourists is an OK thing to do. The locals keep silent about that. It is up to the tourists to be aware and knowledgeable in order to avoid being fleeced.

Public ferry or no public ferry. That is the question?
On the internet we find many web pages that discuss large public ferries that cross Lake Atitlán. However, when we go and look for these large public ferries, locals down by the docks claim that they do not exist. Yet we actually see where the large ferry boat docks on the Google Map.

Are tourists being told that there is no large public ferry boat in order to get passengers to take the smaller private ferries? Hmmmmm?

Is there actually a large public ferry? Or is there no public ferry? We do not know the answer yet. It's a mystery waiting to be solved.

8AM - David and Adriana
Yesterday I met David and Andriana here in the center of Panajachel. David has a morning coffee business. Adriana has a morning yogurt business. Both businesses are located on the property of the Casablanca Restaurant, pretty close to my room at Posada Don Carlos.

I made a date with Adriana this morning to show her how to begin a blog. Adriana sells real estate in this area, and wants to use a blog to advertise property for sale.
David at his coffee business

Adriana selling yogurt

10AM - Boat trip to Santiago de Atitlán
After drinking David's coffee and showing Adriana about starting her blog, I left and caught a tuk-tuk taxi and went to the embarcadero on the east side of Panajachel.

When I arrived there I learned that there are small ferry boats that travel directly from this embarcadero to Santiago de Atitlán, the 2nd largest community along the shore of Lake Atitlán. The travel time from Panajachel to Santiago is about 30 minutes. I was charged 20 quetzales [$3.77US] for this ferry trip.
Tons of small ferry boats at the east embarcadero

10:30am - Arriving at the embarcadero at Santiago de Atitlán

11AM - Browsing Santiago
All the villages on the edge of Lake Atitlán have rather steep roads because the lake is formed by the collapse of an old huge volcano and has steep sides. Along with my fellow ferry passengers, I climbed the steep main road and eventually came to the village's central plaza and found a statue of what appears to be Hernan Cortes riding a horse!
Santigo's central plaza

12 Noon - Hungry in Santiago!
I was really hungry after walking up Santiago's big hill. Also, I'd not eaten any breakfast that day. I found hardly any even remotely attractive restaurants with any customers inside. Finally, I came to a little taco stand that had two brightly dressed Guatemala lady customers inside and decided to buy the same tacos that they bought.
Taco grill cook

Lady taco customers

Partly cloudy