24 Hours in San Pedro

San Pedro La Laguna is a town on the southwest shore of Lago Atitlán that sits beneath Volcan San Pedro. With a population of about 13,000 people, it’s primarily inhibited by Tz’utujil Mayans, expats and backpackers.

From the farm a group of us took a private boat to San Pedro and got dropped off at the west side dock: muelle municipal. This is also the dock where boats, lanchas in Spanish, arrive from and depart to Panajachel.

The view of San Pedro from the west side dock

The view of San Pedro from the west side dock

The view of the dock from San Pedro

The view of the dock from San Pedro

 The east side dock is the muelle santiago, where boats arrive from and depart to Santiago Atitlán.

The Santiago dock from San Pedro

The Santiago dock from San Pedro

San Pedro from the Santiago dock

San Pedro from the Santiago dock

We spent the day walking around town, taking photos, eating delicious inexpensive food and exploring every curve and corner. Since being in Guatemala and being at the farm, San Pedro was the first town I went to. I walked slowly as I tried to observe and take in everything.

San Pedro has a dirty, grimy feel but something about it is rustic and charming. As you walk on narrow cobblestone streets past buildings made out of sheet metal and brick, you catch glimpses of the mountains and the lake. Indigenous women balance baskets on their heads as they walk around selling different types of nuts and bread. You encounter stray dogs at most turns. Coffee grows wildly throughout the paths. Traveling artists setup tables or blankets on the streets and sell their jewelry.

Mayan Art native to San Pedro

Mayan Art native to San Pedro

Walking in San Pedro

Explorando San Pedro con mis amigos

San Pedro city art

San Pedro buildings bleed rainbow

San Pedro street2
San Pedro church and pepsi

Coffee beans growing in San Pedro

Coffee beans growing in San Pedro

There are multiple Spanish language schools, restaurants, bars, laundry mats and tour agencies in town. There’s a post office, a bookstore, a gym and a small health food store that sells nuts and seeds in bulk and a variety of organic, gluten-free and vegan products. There’s a used clothing store with interesting clothes backpackers have left behind. On the main street there’s a shoe store with colorful custom designed handmade shoes with Guatemalan patterns. There’s also a shop with beautiful handmade leather goods.

We ate lunch at Jakuu. For Q30, less than $4, I got a delicious vegetarian plate that came with sautéed veggies, rice, guacamole, french fries, and tortillas. Once you order, the servers run across the street to the fruit and vegetable stand to get the food to prepare. Jakuu had free wi-fi.
Jakuu

My delicious plate of vegetarian food for Q30!

My delicious plate of vegetarian food for Q30!

After lunch we went to Café Cristalinas, a café known for their coffee and chocolate. They grow their own coffee right on site. It was a great place to catch up on internet and chill out. I didn’t have any coffee, but all my friends loved it.

Café Cristalinas

Café Cristalinas

Cafe Cristalinas

Cheers!

Cheers!

Cool San Pedro Street Art

Cool San Pedro Street Art

A young Guatemalan boy watching some jugglers.

A young Guatemalan boy watching some jugglers.

My friend Dima and I spent the night at ZooLa, an Israeli owned hostel, restaurant and lounge on the water. For Q75 each (less than $10) we got a private room with two double beds. We had dinner with friends at ZooLa’s laidback lounge. I really liked the atmosphere there, and I’d probably go again. The path to ZooLa is across the street from Museo Tzununya Centro Cultural Comunitario.

Our friends stayed at Hotel La Casa del Descanso, which was next to the path for ZooLa. They really enjoyed it.

sign for ZooLa

The path to ZooLa

The path to ZooLa

ZooLa Lounge at night

ZooLa Lounge at night

Our room at ZooLa

Our room at ZooLa

While we were at ZooLa, two different bands stopped by to play music. Before they began they asked for donations. Once they were finished playing they came around the tables asking for money, and then they left.

On the streets children of all ages walked around selling all kinds of knickknacks or asking for money. Guatemala has one of the highest poverty rates in Latin America. More than half of Guatemalans live in poverty. Children start working at a young age to help their families. In San Pedro the poverty was very apparent. Seeing what children do to survive was eye-opening. I’ve lived a very drastic life to these Guatemalan children, and probably a huge percent of Guatemalans in general. Being in these kinds of environments makes me so much more appreciative and grateful for the life I’ve lived.

In the morning Dima and I met friends at Idea Connection, an Italian Bakery. I ate a delicious vanilla croissant and yogurt with fruit. It was a great, relaxed, outdoor environment surrounded by beautiful plants. I’d definitely go again.

The entrance to Idea Connection

The entrance to Idea Connection

Idea Connection's Menu

Idea Connection’s Menu

The inside of Idea Connection

The inside of Idea Connection

Me, delighted with my breakfast!

Me, delighted with my breakfast!

About 7 to 8 meters up the street from Idea Connection are two beautiful restaurant/cafes with outdoor seating and gardens. They are right across the street from each other.

Home is all vegetarian and Le Jardin has vegetarian options. Both have very beautiful, tranquilo environments.

Home's Menu

Home’s Menu

Hours vary, depending on life. I love signs and ideas like this.

Hours vary, depending on life. I love signs and ideas like this.

Le Jardin

Le Jardin

The seating at Le Jardin

The inside of Le Jardin

There are more restaurants down the narrow alleyway.

A street in San Pedro

A street in San Pedro

Cafe Atitlan's Menu gives you an idea to the crowd in San Pedro. Re: the hippie breakfast

Cafe Atitlan’s menu gives you an idea to the crowd in San Pedro. Re: the hippie breakfast.

At the restaurants and poles throughout town there were multiple fliers for Permaculture courses and yoga classes. Most of the fliers were in English.

Overall I liked San Pedro, but I wouldn’t spend a lot of time there. I’d go for a night or two, but then move on to a more tranquilo environment.

How to get to San Pedro:

From Santiago a lancha should cost no more than Q20. Locals pay somewhere between Q5 and Q15. Before you get on the boat sometimes men standing by the boat will try to charge you Q25. These men have nothing to do with the boat. They just stand by the boat and make commission. They rarely ever ride the boat. Even though the difference between Q25 and Q20 or Q15 is only a couple dollars, I don’t like feeling taken advantage of. They always target foreigners and charge them more. Most people pay when they get off the boat instead of when they get on the boat.

If entering town via the Santiago dock:

Take the first right to get to the restaurants and shops in town.

If entering town via the Pana dock:

Take the first left to get to the health food store and to explore one of the main streets. The shoe shop is on this street. This road will eventually lead to a path in the woods. Before the path ends turn right at the narrow alleyway just after Tienda La Estrellita and before Hotel Casa Lola. The path is easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there. Jakuu is on the right just after the playground. To get to Home, Le Jardin, Café Atitlan and Idea Connection, turn left on the corner at the Guatemaya Spanish School.

To get to Café Cristalinas from the Pana dock, continue up the hill. Here you’ll find the used clothing store and the leather goods store. Follow the road past Café Cristalinas to get to the part of town that’s less touristy, the part of town where most of the locals live. If you follow this road you’ll also find the market where the locals buy their food.

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