4 Oct 2006
|I've been in Panajachel a couple of days now and let me tell you it is SO SO much better than Xela. In fact Xela was so bad that we have decided it is never to be spoken of again and coincidentally I accidently deleted all photos of that place from my camera!
I arrived in Panajachel on the day of their annual town festival and this place really knows how to party! Its never going to sound as good to try to describe in words but I'll give it a go...
There was this enormous street party/ carnival complete with rides and fireworks. The fireworks were so dangerous, let off under people's feet, spun along strings between trees etc. Sean and I decided to go on the ferris wheel (of death, as we called it) and it was the best fun I have had in ages! The gate on the little seat was not reliable, we saw all the locals hung onto the back of the seat rather than the gate. And the speed at which this thing went!!! It was a ferris wheel with a death wish, I have never seen anything like it. Oddly enough no one else was game to go on it...
But the most spectacular part was that just as we got on the main fireworks display started and continued right over our heads the whole ride, about 10 minutes. Of course that meant that we did get hit with bits of hot fireworks from time to time but that just added to the whole danger combined with excitement thing!
SO following that we went over to the main square to watch the band and have a beer. Some of locals VERY drunk old dudes were dancing in the middle and one of them grabbed me to dance with him, which I did for a little while until I realised just how plastered they all were. To the extent that this one young guy who was entirely off his face and could barely stand tried to grab my beer off me. I don't think he anticipated the fight that I put up and wrestled it back! Then he came over again and tried to sneakily reach for it and kicked him (I know, I know better than that). But then about half an hour later AGAIN he came and grabbed my beer and I had to wrestle it back opff him. Nevermind keeping an eye on your wallet, camera etc in Guatemala, its your beer they want!! Went out after to the Pana Rock Cafe, the Guate answer to the Hard Rock where we somehow got 4 drinks for the price of one in Happy Hour!
Tonight is the main festival night so I have no doubt it will be a big one...
I went on a boat trip on Lake Atilan today which is the lake on which Pana is located. The lake is actually the crater of an extinct volcano, from many eons ago. There are quite a few little villages dotted around the lake and I visited 3 of them. I had a great buffet breakfast at a hotel on one then at the next one I saw the most surreal thing. But a little back ground first, the villagers in San Pedro worship both Jesus and this dude called Maximo. Maximo is a statue about 1.5m tall, made of wood and allegedly 10,000 years old. Every year there is a competition to see which household Maximo will live in for the year.
So I paid 2 Qetzales (sounds like pretzels, Q$6=AU$1) to go into the house where Max is living for the year. Firstly the house is a tin shack in a back lane and there is a full band playing music out the front. When I went in there were about half a dozen really drunk old men sitting around, nearly asleep. They are paid to stay with Max 24/7 to keep him company. To the right was a glass coffin decorated with coloured fairy lights with a life size statue of Jesus in it. In the middle of the room was a guy kneeling on the floor, wailing and praying to Maximo. Max was dressed in traditional clothes and had a cigar poking out of his mouth. They pointed out the trunk where Max's clothes are kept, he changes daily, and the loft bed where he sleeps each night. It was all I could do not to burst out laughing!
I am really enjoying Guate, the food is great, the weather is warm but not too hot, all in all pretty good. Still can't find BBQ Shapes though...
Oh and I have forgotten to mention the best part about Guatemala, I am tall here!!! Nearly everyone is shorter than me, can you believe that??