Wow! Full disclosure, my visit to Guatemala was pretty rapid-fire and based purely on pictures I had seen of friends visiting the area. I knew I would have a little time left after my yoga trade ended in Nicaragua, and I wanted to be able to "check off" another country while I was in the area. I am sometimes guilty of being a checklist traveler; I even have a scratch off map that I keep updated every time I go somewhere new. This is a silly way to go about things--there's so much depth of experience that can be gained by staying in one country for longer amounts of time--but it is the way of the Enthusiast and it is the way of me.
I planned to spend an extra week heading to the island and coast of Nicaragua, and then found a one-way flight from Guatemala back to the U.S. Initially, I tried to beg my Guatemalan roommate to meet me that week, but she had some January work travels to attend to. I couldn't shake the idea of going, and the international flight price was right-- Interjet is a real legitimate airline with real cheap Central American flights-- so I scrounged up some credit card points to help me get to Guatemala and there I went.
Antigua was a lovely stopping point, but magical Lake Atitlan had been calling me to it, so I decided to make the 3-4 hour shuttle-then-boat journey there, which was reasonably bouncy but not so much that I couldn't eat Pringles and a chocolate bar and think that everyone else needed to settle down and enjoy the views. The small girl in front of me got sick two times, and while I wish I were the type of person who, when a child gets sick near me on the bus, thinks "Aw, poor sick child", instead I am the type who wonders why a person decided to bring their family of four on a windy, bumpy shared shuttle bus when every single member gets horrendously carsick, and when that person also needs to periodically change and feed their baby all across the seat next to me. Anyway, compassion; I am working on it and the lake was a good place to do so:
The shores of the crater lake look like what I imagine parts of Italy look like. Tiny towns are built into the hillside, and the only sane way to travel between them is by very efficient and entertaining boat taxis. You could spend a month or more visiting each of them and uncovering the gems in each one. I only had a day and a half, so I went to the one for the yogis and spiritual-minded community, drank some golden milk turmeric tea and jumped off a platform into the chilly waters. Jumping from high places into lower wet places is a favorite of mine, so it was a very delightful day.