Monthly Meanderings: June 2023
getting stranded in Guatemala, a textile lover’s paradise, and horchata
Greetings, friends! Before anything else, I just want to check in: how are you doing? I am feeling some serious burnout, and I sense that I’m not the only one. It’s just one of those months where nothing seems to be going as it should (I’m literally writing this post on my iPhone in a hotel room where the advertised wifi does not work). If you’re in the same place, come commiserate with me in the comment section!
The burnout I’m feeling is especially puzzling, because Nick and I are just back from a long trip to Guatemala. We were visiting my sister-in-law and her husband in the rural town of Jobompiche, where they’ve built a self-sustaining house. It was one of the more fascinating travel experiences I’ve had. (I have an essay about it forthcoming, but I’m taking my time with this one and holding it back until it’s really ready, because the subject matter deserves it.)
While the primary motivation for our trip to Guatemala was to see family, it was important to Nick and I that we carve out some time for ourselves. So before heading to Jobompiche, we stopped at the beautiful, placid Lake Atitlán. The lake is famous for the little villages that dot the shore, each with its own distinct personality. We figured we’d visit several.
Nick had taken a recommendation from a coworker for a hotel in the lakeside town of Santa Catarina Palopó. She told him the place was so nice she didn’t even leave the property during her stay. That was enough to sell us, and we were not disappointed. I mean, look at this terrace:
As it happened, though, the recommending coworker left out a critical bit of nuance. It wasn’t just that we might not want to leave the hotel…we kind of couldn’t. The public boats (lanchas) that ferry people from town to town around the lake didn’t regularly run to Santa Catarina Palopó because it’s so tiny. There wasn’t anywhere to walk, either—the center of downtown was twenty minutes downhill on foot, and there wasn’t much more there than a convenience store or two. We were stuck.
After Nick and I got over the initial shock of being confined to a hotel for the better part of a week, we actually found ourselves enjoying it—we lounged by the pool, read, and generally got into vacation mode—but there is only so much of that you can do, and we were itching to get out and do some sightseeing. As we would have to hire a (rather pricey) private boat for a whole day if we wanted to get across the lake, we limited ourselves to one excursion. San Juan La Laguna was the clear choice.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The Cairo Dispatch to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.