LAKE ATITLAN: getting there
We had heard about an awesome overlander place on Lake Atitlan, near San Marcos run by a Frenchman Pierre. The drive there was really interesting as we began to see the indigenous people with the women in traditional dress. Around the Lake were small villages and farming communities.
There was a rough patch of road that was gravel with major potholes we had to negotiate. It was very bumpy but Keira still managed to sleep through the whole thing. Only later did we find out from Pierre that this section of road is known for robberies. When you think about it, it is the perfect place, isolated, and cars going slow so easy to intercept.
We encountered no problems. Maybe the fact that we always wave out the windows to people we pass and have smiling faces helps? Or maybe the thieves had their quota for the week!
PASAJ CAP- SAN MARCOS
Pierre’s place, Pasaj Cap, was incredible. He has an amazing property on Lake Atitlan with 12 assorted villas for rent, both short term and long term rentals, and several beautiful and well set up sites for overlanders to park their vehicles and stay. There were hammock and lounge chair areas with amazing lake views, clean toilets and a hot shower. The place has its own dock from which you can hail the public water taxis to take you to various locations on the Lake.
It was just what we needed for a couple of days rest, and a chance to repack the car (to safely stow our purchases) before the final push through Mexico to the USA.
On our second morning, Mike awoke feeling fine, but as he got out of the tent, he was hit with an excruciating pain in his lower back and abdomen. The pain continued to intensify to the point that he could no longer walk and he was vomiting from the pain. He was ghost white. Mike can usually tolerate a good deal of pain, so by his state, I knew it was bad.
After consulting with a nurse Kathy who was also staying at Pierre’s, we ruled out appendicitis and believed it was kidney stones. Our concern was that the stone might be too large to pass without medical intervention. When the pain got unbearable we decided that we needed to make the 5-hour drive into Guatemala City for medical attention. Pierre was incredible providing us with information for a reputable urologist, making us an appointment and securing a vehicle and driver to take us there.
The journey was a challenge as the roads were rough and winding. Mike felt every bump. We were lucky to have strong painkillers in our first aid kit that helped some. On the way Keira was suffering from carsickness so had to sit on my lap in the front seat. We believe Mike passed the stone on the way into Guatemala.
The Urologist spoke English and was straight forward, sending immediately for labs. The results did in fact show another kidney stone, but the doctor was unable to tell its size. We opted for medications to help with the process.
The driver, Tono, was great. He waited 2 hours for us, until 7pm, so we could drive back to the Lake that night. It took us 2 hours to clear traffic through Guatemala City. He drove safely and carefully. And luckily both Keira and Mike were able to sleep on the drive.
We finally returned at midnight, totally exhausted.
We decided to stay on another 2 days, so Mike could rest and be in a comfortable place whilst the medication did its work.
It was a hell of an experience, but it is amazing what you can cope with when you have to. Our daughter was amazing as usual, and so patient.
On our last day at the Lake we took a boat ride to 2 of the towns on the Lake, San Pedro and San Marcos. We enjoyed walking in the markets and through the towns.
We were sad to leave Pierre’s. He has an incredible place and is a wonderful host. If anyone is ever considering a vacation in Guatemala, please contact us and we will share Pierre’s information or go to http://www.pasajcap.com.
STREET SCENES FROM THE MARKETS IN SAN MARCOS. ILLUSTRATING THE TRADITIONAL DRESS OF THE WOMEN AND THE POPULAR COWBOY HATS OF THE LOCAL MEN
HIGHLIGHTS/CHALLENGES OF THIS AREA:
MOST VALUED POSSESION: money for bribes/hydrocodone and a zip lock bag
BEST EXPERIENCE: Mike- Pierre’s hospitality; Keira- swinging in the hammock looking at the Lake; Riss- being at the Lake
MOST CHALLENGING EXPERIENCE: Mike- passing kidney stones/corrupt cops; Keira- being car sick/Daddy being in pain; Riss- the drive into Guatemala city/not knowing where Mike was when he didn’t return after paying the fine
BEST FOOD DISCOVERY: Mike- none really, not focused on food/did have average Chinese food, Keira- Daddy’s pancakes; Riss- Mike’s cooking
BEST CAMPING SPOT: definitely Pierre’s place
Just a place to keep our mates informed on where we are at, and what we are up to.