Life on the Water


Purple haze, sunrise on Lake Atitlan (photo by Lynne Davidson)

Lake Atitlan is the deepest lake in Central America. You can swim in the details here:

Rough day on the lake

Lake Atitlan

Statistics are certainly fun, but you can attain giddy heights of nerdishness when you are at the place and know the stats. On Saturday morning the school had a kayak excursion on the lake. It had been windy and wavy all week, but fortune smiled upon us, with only a soft wind blowing, and just enough waves to make it fun and a couple of people slightly seasick.

It felt good to paddle around with no particular destination. We headed toward the San Pedro volcano, and I reconsidered my plan to hike to the top. Very high, very steep. There is, however, a good chance  I will forget this information as quickly as I forget my verb conjugations.

View from Las Cristolinas

As you float you get another view of life in San Pedro. Women come down to the lake to wash clothes, since running water is a luxury and washing machines a rarity. I see women from the poorer part of town walking back up hill with towels around their heads, since this is the only way they can wash their hair. There are roads around the lake and some are in drivable condition, but the lake is the roadway for people and products. Fisherman are out in ancient wooden boats, and gallon containers tied to strings mark the location of crab traps. Terraced farms climb the lush sides of the volcano, much the same as they’ve been for hundreds of years. The lake provides water, recreation, food, beauty, and sometimes destruction.

Don't you hate when that happens? (Photo by Lisa Braden)

The lake is rising. The old ones tell of a 40 or 50 year cycle where it rises, then recedes.  Since people as a rule like to ignore things like this many businesses and houses were abandoned when the water started knocking on the front door. There is no homeowners´insurance here, so if you’ve followed the folly to build close to the lake, you´re living elsewhere now. So you can kayak amongst tree branches and float in the former front yards of pretty lakefront in-lake houses. Oops.

Canoes along the lake

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About ThesePartsUnknown

I write, I travel, I make art.
This entry was posted in Guatemala, Kayaking, Ordinary Life, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Life on the Water

  1. christopher says:

    ahhh….I feel like I am there….thank you.

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