Monday, November 25, 2013

Our journey from Panajachel, Lake Atitlan via Mazatanango to Retalhule, Xocomil Water Park.

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Walking; then a boat; then a tuk-tuk; then a truck ride; then a mini-van; then a chicken bus; and then the last mini-van; then more walking; then a final tuk-tuk.  Whew!!

Our hostel, Mario’s Rooms at Panajachel fortunately had wi-fi and a little open area to sit outside our room.
So I was up at 5 a.m. trying to find a hostel or hotel in Retahlau.  
I had heard great things about Xocomil Water Park, and we wanted to go.  
But it is quite remote, and not on any direct public transport route, so we asked around; Googled a map; and set off on our journey.
We had to walk about a kilometer from the centre of town, down a dog leg road to the wharf where the boats went to Santiago.  No boats go directly to San Lucas, so we found the shortest way. 
We got to the pier, and the guy wanted 50 Quetzales for the boat ride from us. Some paid less if they were locals, and some more. There seemed no set fee which annoyed me.  So we sat again, patiently waiting for it to fill.  
A small group came on and started drinking what looked like vodka, and were quite merry in a short space of time.  My son found it amazing where she kept her phone!
Unfortunately, the boat had a fuel lock, so we no sooner were out on the lake, and it didn’t move!  Mind you the happy drinkers, remained happy, and just sat and enjoyed their morning socializing.
We arrived at Santiago, and walked back up the wharf.  
We had left an important item at the hotel Bambu the other day, so we headed back by Tuk-tuk to retrieve that.  He looked about 14 years old, and only wanted 5 Quetzales for a round trip.  So we asked him to wait whilst I raced in and retrieved our item.  
We were going to take a boat to San Lucas next, but the lady at the hotel suggested a pick-up truck.  So we asked the tuk-tuk driver to take us to the pick-up point.  We should have asked him to take us to the road it went along. As soon as we hopped on the pick-up truck, we sailed back by the Bambu Hotel entrance!
The ride was pretty twisty.  Our bags kept belting some old guy, but we were pretty squished in. What is interesting in Central America, is that when they want to fix the road, they just put rocks in the way so you can't drive there. So you are constantly swerving white rocks.
When we got to San Lucas we had to walk to the central market. This is a completely local town – no gringos, and we had a hard time finding somewhere to get lunch.  
Dried white bait, and hot peppers are again sold at the market.
So I took pot luck and ordered off the only café I could find.  We only order vegetarian in moments like this. 
This old lady was asleep by her food stand at the end of the street. Business for her is slow, but mind you, she is opposite the cemetery!
We then grabbed a mini van and it went to a town, where we had to swap to a chicken bus to Mazatanango.  This took a couple of hours each bus, and the day was getting long.  
I had to go to the bathroom, and the local men tried to help us get a bus, and grabbed our trolley bags and try to whisk them on the bus in front of the toilets. I had to grab them off. Completely the wrong bus!
After a bathroom and refreshment break, we wandered to find the next bus.  It was just taking off. Bags were thrown in the back, as we raced to the front. I hate that!  My son always races to the back to see they actually made it through the back door.
By now I have lost track of buses and vans!  But we get to a town and have to take a mini-van.  By now the people on the mini-van try to help us.  The van doesn’t go too far.
I soon discover I have written down the wrong town. Retalhuleu is not the place to stay. We should be staying at Xocomil.
So the mini-van drops us at the entrance to Xocomil Water Park. I tell them I don’t want to be here.  I had been trying to stop at passing hotels for the last 5 minutes and they wouldn’t listen to me. So annoying!
So there we stand. On a busy road with no hotel.  I am angry. I don’t do well with my attitude.  My son copped my bad attitude, and I walked off down the road with him behind me muttering my frustration.  We found a hotel. Expensive, dirty and horrid.  We left.
My son prayed for a tuk-tuk and of course it appeared that minute, in fact we had barely crossed the road! 
So we asked him to take us to a hostel.  Well – little did we know the 4 in the region vary from 3 – 5 star and all join as a big resort. So we pull up and they quote me a crazy price.
I had seen a hotel earlier so we head there.  We agree on a breakfast inclusive price and it has a pool and looks acceptable.  Mind you it took me 3 rooms to find one that was all working right.
We were pretty delighted – it had a bath – we hadn’t a bath for months. But it had no bath plug!  I could have cried. However my son decided to use the drinking glass and the suction held up long enough for a shallow bath.
As sunset was approaching we decided to head over and take photographs of the resort across the road.
We were pretty upset when we found out they had a Wednesday night special for 125 Quetzales – less than half the price of what we were paying!  It did say for Guatemalans, but the man at reception said we could stay.
We enjoyed a walk around the grounds.  They are all decorated for Christmas, and we feel like we are in USA.  Just glorious!
We checked out the restaurants and decided to go to the Mexican Restaurant which was lovely.  
So reasonably priced and included a great Mexican band. They invite us up, and we enjoy our tie with them, but want to leave and have an early evening - ready for tomorrow.
We left happy. 
We were disappointed with where we were staying compared with across the road, but we had a lovely big room, 2 double beds, and it included breakfast.
We spoke to the manager about the pricing and he gave us a slight reduction for the 2nd night.
Explorason enjoyed an evening swim, and we headed back to the dining area to use the wi-fi.
Tomorrow will be a big day, so we turned in.
As we had a nice flat screen TV including Sky TV and Cartoon Network, we popped on the air-conditioner and chilled out.
Today had ended well.

But my goodness, it was an ordeal to get here!!!

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