Folks at Hotel were very helpful...told us to go to Santiago by boat first, then catch the bus to Santa Lucia...which we did. Left at 9:15 and arr at 2pm checked into Hotel International
. It was quite amazing how fast the temp and humidity change, in a matter of 1-2 km it went from coolish, mtn air to hot, humid air. The mtns around lake Atitlan look very forested, as if pristine almost from a distance but having travelled by bus thru them the story is quite different. Most of the trees standing are there (planted?) to shade the coffee plants, and they regularly cut them back for the wood (cooking fires). Also, many fields of corn planted here and there among the trees. Once we arrived down at lower elevation the agriculture took a dramatic shift to huge ranches raising cattle/cows(milk?) and sugar cane. We saw many tractor trailer trucks hauling cane piled high to the mill(s).
After getting settled we decided due to the cost of the ON (140q=$17 US for a dbl-not as nice as in San Pedro either) and also the ancient sites we came to see are far apart so we are hiring a car to take us...$25 US! Some confusion in getting to the sites ends up causing us to miss one but the three we see are enuf to give us a good idea of the Olmec past represented (or perhaps back even before 2500 bc!?). See pics.El Baul Site Bilbao Site
Since we are splurging already and haven´t eaten, we have our driver drop us at Restaurant Costa Linda near the hotel which is a bit pricey but the food was good and filling.
Tomorrow we head for El Democracia for a visit to their museum and then onward same day...