Northern Costa Rica and Guatemala

We left Marina Papagayo April 18 and headed for Bahia Ensueno in the Murcielagos as it supposedly had good snorkeling. Unfortunately the water was cloudy and then the wind kicked up so after one night we moved around the point to Bahia Santa Elena a large bay that is very protected from the swell. We ended up staying 8 days til the Papagayo winds(gap winds) abated. There was a great shell beach where e I found a good specimen of a Paper Nautilus shell. Snorkeling was disappointing again on the one day we had in settled weather.

 
 
head and tail of Spotted Porcupinefish

 
 
On the 28th we left for Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala. The trip was great and we saw a large group of Olive Ridley Turtles over a 2 mile stretch of water 20 mi offshore along with many dolphin. Fishing was not too productive, 3 Skipjack tuna (only good for dog food by our tastes) and one 1foot Mahi, all of which we threw back. The cruising guides said staying at Marina Pez Vela in Puerto Quetzal was expensive- it was especially as it is not setup to handle cruising boats.Every boat there was a sport fishing vessel. It is small and there is no marina staff to answer email or phones. Only a dockmaster who is not there all the time. We waited over an hour outside the marina trying to reach someone and finally went to the only dock that would accomodate our size and tied up. The Port Control assigned an agent who arrived with the various officials to check us in in the afternoon. The reason we stopped in Guatemala was so I could finally meet my Guatemalan online spanish teacher and tour Antigua where she lives. We had a great time! My spanish language skills really improved after talking with Claritza and the townspeople of Antigua. The B&B was beautiful and everyone was very friendly and helpful. We had great meals at reasonable prices,Como Como was especially tasty, walked all over the city and took a one day trip to Lake Atitlan and 2 of its surrounding 12 Mayan villages. Lago de Atitlan fills the caldera of volcano Atitlan and is surrounded by 3 other volcanos all inactive. Unfortunately the day way cloudy and misty so we couldn't see the supposedly blue water and the beautiful view from the view point up the road. There is no road completely around the lake. You drive to Panajachel on the shore and take a boat to the villages. The primary industry is agriculture and all the hillsides are divided into small plots where many different vegetables are grown. Now tourism and artesian crafts are very big. The first village we visited was Santiago Atitlan , the largest, and known for its textiles and embroidery.It is also known for its worship of Maximon, an idol formed by the fusion of traditional Mayan deities, Catholic saints and conquistador legends. According to our guide, Manolo, the effigy moves to different houses during the year and the people come and make offerings of food, money, or other things to bring in a good harvest, hope for good health etc. Each Mayan group has its own style of dress all very colorful. Claritza told me that there are 360 different Mayan groups in the communities around Antigua. In Santiago Atitlan the huipil, a Mayan blouse, is beautifully decorated with embroidery. The second village was San Pedro de Laguna. Our final stop of the day was at the central market at Chichicastenango which sold artisan crafts, textiles, food, household goods, shoes and more. I could have spent 3 hours there but it was late and the market was closing shortly after we arrived.

 
 
entrance of Hostel Las Marias

 
 
inner courtyard

 
 
 
 
 
 
street around the corner from our B&B but typical. All residences and businesses were behind a large door.

 
 
crypt in the cemetery, some old, some new

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Palacio de Capitanes from the Parque Central

 
 
Cathedral from Parque Central

 
 
Tanque de la Union where women wash clothes

 
 
Monasterio La Merced

 
 
outskirts of Santiago Atitlan

 
 
traditional dress for Santiago Atitlan

 
 
Huipiles

 
 
 
 
outside a school

 
 
Tuk-Tuk: the cheap taxi of Guatemala. A very jarring ride over the cobblestone streets of Antigua.

 
 
 
 
the effigy of Maximon

 
 
one of the volcanoes

 
 
San Pedro de Laguna

 
 
Byron and Manolo in the Parque Central of San Pedro

 
 

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