The Guatemala that finally won me

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I have been waiting to visit Guatemala for awhile now. In the traveling groups I badly try to keep up with, everybody raves about it, it is the favorite spot in Central America for just about all of them. So we came. Me, full of hopes.

Lake Atitlan is nice. Is it stunning, “one of the most beautiful lakes in the World”? No. The best part about it is the boats you need to take from one village to the other. Tucked in the overwhelming green hills and volcanoes, there are some amazing houses and hotels on its shore, but mortals cannot go there.

The other favorite spot for traveling folks in Guatemala is Antigua. Oh, the tourist overload! English is the official language, need I say more? The petite, uniquely dressed indigenous women of San Cristobal de las Casas, have been exchanged for fat, blindingly white Americans in khaki pants. Similar to San Miguel de Allende, Antigua, a lovely town on its own terms, has been invaded by rich folk and pretentious shops and restaurants have taken over the small mom and pop places and plentiful street vendors that I am guessing were there once. The setting and the hills around it were beautiful, I admit.

So, yes, I was underwhelmed. And melancholic. I could see the country has incredible nature and some amazing colonial towns, but obviously it is so poor, that only the tourists and rich locals can afford to enjoy it and make the best out of it. And I have reached a stage in my travels, where I am unable to relish in a place where the locals are pushed away to the sides and diminished to the role of cleaners,  and voiceless help.

Then came yesterday. And Guatemala pulled all the punches and bruised my demanding eyes. On our drive from just south of Coban to Lanquin, last part of which was 11km of rock road through the jungle, I fell in love. The green, the hills, the gentle fog that hugged them from time to time, the farms, the small villages peaking from the tops of the lush vegetation… no words needed.

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On arrival in Lanquin, we found a great spot on the Lanquin river for our stay.

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Even the miserable, daily rain, could not ruin the high I was in.

The view from our place:

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Thank you, Guatemala.

And I am sorry for doubting you. I was just looking at the wrong places.