Ann's News

A Week in Guatemala…Writing

My travelling and writing adventures began a solid 90 days past the original planned date, and when I finally took off, my trip was cut short. Most of you know by now that the first morning I woke-up in Panajachel, Guatemala, it was to the news my mom had succumbed to her brain cancer. It was devastating news to receive, but at the same time, I was glad I had started my adventure and my mom was now able to join me. I made arrangements for my flight back that morning, leaving me with only seven days to write my first book in my life series.

I landed in Guatemala City excited to finally be on foreign soil again! It was sunny and warm, but not at all humid as I’d expected. After finding some water, I located the shuttle driver who was to take me to Antigua, my first stop of my way to Panajachel.

Panajachel is the largest town around Lake Atitlan, approximately 3 hour shuttle drive from the airport. It’s pretty easy to find a shuttle service to get there, but if your flight lands after 2pm, you might be stuck spending a night in Guatemala City. Keep that in mind as you make your preparations.

Restaurants along Lake Atitlan in Panajachel

Restaurants along the Lake Atitlan in Panajachel

I was joined on the shuttle by two guys heading to Antigua, one was from France and the other from Great Brittan. Both spoke French, so we chatted it up. The initial impression driving down the main drag of Guatemala City with its Walmarts, Taco Bell, KFC and other American chains felt like being in baja Mexico or bad parts of L.A. The coolest thing on the road were the pimped out school buses used for public transportation.

Our own shuttle van was raggedy, hot, and being driven by a mad man. I expected nothing less, but when I arrived in Antigua feeling a little sick from motion sickness – I got worried. The second half of the ride would only be more curvy and difficult on my wellbeing. I found a pharmacy and bought Dramamine. Unfortunately, that didn’t end up being enough. Maybe over an hour into the drive, I was vomiting out the window. My poor driver had to stop and clean the side of his van. Thankfully everyone in the van were nice about it – one guy even helped the driver.

We arrived after dark in Panajachel. It was hard for me to really make out anything about the place. I was the last person dropped off at the corner of a street based on the description of the building I was provided by my host (AirBnB). There are no addresses, so location is identified by landmark. This is not something that’s uncommon as you travel to other countries. I was not however, sure I was at the right place. I contacted the girl I was staying with who was unfortunately back stateside for a family emergency. As I was trying to connect with her, my driver came back.

View out the window where I stayed

View out the window where I stayed

I’d given him a pretty large tip for having to clean my mess so not sure that’s what brought him back, or the fact he was genuinely worried I had no idea where I was, and might be stranded where he left me. Personally, I wasn’t worried…yet. Long story short, he stopped a lady, who made a call, who got me to the right place. All this was done in Spanish with me not knowing what they were saying.

Welcome to Panajachel! It’s a super friendly and small community that takes care of lost foreigners.

After making my reservations to fly back for my mom’s service, I went exploring the town and lake area. The lake was as beautiful as I’d anticipated based on the pictures I’d seen online and the town also met my expectations.

Lake Atitlan at Sunset

Lake Atitlan at Sunset

I found a place to have breakfast, where I met an expat and had a good chat with him. He gave me more of the lay of the land, and offered to take me on a hike the following morning. He actually never showed up the next morning, but I went exploring on my own, anyway.

Later that first day, I found a coffee shop and began writing Men and Sex: Navigating Both Before and After Christ. In the end, the majority of my time in Panajachel was spent writing either at the coffee shop, where they served delicious mochas, or at the kitchen table where I was staying. I managed to finish the book, writing up to 5,000 words in a day, some days, to get it done.

My spot at Te Quiero where I went to write every day and have a delicious mocha.

My spot at Te Quiero where I went to write every day and have a delicious mocha.

My trip wasn’t exactly what I’d hope for. I didn’t make it to any other villages or place around the lake. I still really enjoyed myself and I like Panajachel, I just happened to spend my time working, which is why I’ll be returning to do a lot more exploring in a few weeks.

The locals were incredibly friendly and there are a lot of expats, tourists, and people out doing selfless work to be found everywhere.

I also have to note the weather was absolutely perfect. It was cool at night (mid-50s), sunny and warm during the day, but not hot or humid. I was also surprised I was not bombarded by hungry mosquitoes out for my blood. When I return, I’ll be staying with the same girl, I originally stayed with. I felt totally at home, and she had a comfy place that had everything I needed. I made a video which is posted on my Facebook page.

But first, I’ll be heading to Puerto Rico and getting started on Book #2! This one will cover my love, dedication and evolving commitment to living a fit life!