Although the photo is grainy (and is the ONLY sign that this picture wasn’t taken yesterday ), I love it because I can still feel that moment. I was thirty and on a trip around Belize and Guatemala with G Adventures. I was in love with Central America (and still am). I loved the food, the people, the vibe, the smell, the geography, all of it. I was also with some amazing fellow travellers from the UK who made me laugh all day every day. You cannot beat travelling with Brits. This picture was taken at the Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala where we rode chicken buses to get there, and were thrilled each time the words, “Chichi!” were yelled out by drivers, vendors and anyone else picking up passengers for the market.
“Chichi” has been around for hundreds of years, and is one of the biggest markets in Latin America, operating on Thursdays and Sundays. You can buy pottery, colourful textiles, carvings, wooden masks, and other Mayan goods. I am not much of a shopper, but it was great fun bargaining with the vendors. I am terrible at this by the way, and inevitably came home with bags full of bright, beautiful clothes.
Chichicastenago itself is a town with cobbled streets and red tiled rooves in the remote Guatemalan highlands, surrounded by beautiful mountains and valleys. It is approximately 140 kms northwest of Guatemala City, and is rich with Maya culture. It is a must-do experience. If chicken buses are not your scene, there are tour operators and shuttles that will take you there from Antigua and Guatemala City. I still remember sticking my head out the window, grinning from ear to ear, loving the warm breeze, the sun on my face and the spectacular scenery. I felt so grateful to be alive. I felt so free.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Kat and Steve, a Canadian-American couple who met randomly while travelling in Costa Rica in 2008. You guessed it, they fell in love. By 2010, they bought a property together in the lush Guatemalan jungle on the shores of beautiful Lake Atitlán in Santa Cruz La Laguna. Kat and Steve move fast. By 2012, they opened the doors to their stunning boutique hotel, La Fortuna Atitlán (La Fortuna being where they met in Costa Rica).
Lake Atitlán sits in a massive volcanic crater and is definitely another destination to put on your Guatemalan bucket list. Many stay at the tourist town of Panajachel which sits on the north shore of the lake, but should you be so lucky, you could book a stay with Kat and Steve at their unique, relaxing property.
Learn more about their story and your future lakeside accommodations at La Fortuna Atitlán in magical Guatemala. And don’t forget, Guatemala is also home to numerous volcanoes, several of which you can hike up. There is so much to see and do in this country. https://bit.ly/3xz1E0Q