We were woken at 6am to lots of knocking on the windows. We were parked in the bus parking. S**t one! After a quick move to a side street, we strolled around Chichicastenango market, which is apparently the largest in Guat. It was definitely the best market we have been to so far on the trip. The people-watching alone is fascinating, with its pig auction, chicken buying, women pancake making, men hauling packages the size of cars on their backs, etc. A must-do in Guat. There's also some good buys to be had if you are the bargain hard type. I was in my element and so was Gwyn was the photo opportunities every second.
There's a pretty church covered in flower sellers and a mural along the town hall next to it. After several hours, we walked the short trail up Pascual Abaj - a sacrificial stone and shrine to the Maya earth God. We just took our machete as a 'comfort blanket', as we heard you needed as guide for this. It felt safe and there were several tourists. Plus it was a 15 minute round trip. We didn't think much to the shrine, but the panoramic view of the city was nice enough.
We then headed to Lago de Atitlan. First stop was Solola, which was in full flow market mode. There's some good views of the lake if you go down hill past the plaza and church. We then visited Panajachel, which has a pretty waterfall along the road into it - you'll see the parked cars on your left with the usual craft and food sellers. Panajachel is good for shopping, with big discounts, but we didn't bother with Reserva Natural Atitlan, as we wanted to see more lake side towns. There's paragliding here too, which we would've done if we were just holidaying here, but we have it a few times further along our trip. Panajachel is developed and gringo central, so don't expect a lost-in-time village. However, when we got to Santa Catarina Palopo, this was more off the beaten track. It was actually our favourite lake side village, but that may have been because there was a festival on at the time we were there. Further along is the sleepy town of Santa Antonio Palopo. There's nothing much here, but it's tranquil and there's great pictures of the town and lake to be had from the weaving road into it. We found this whole section of the lake towns road, completely accessible and easy to navigate. These towns are also close to each other. There's cheap boat service from Panajachel to several (more developed) lake side towns, but we didn't see any official service to these latter two towns (although I'm sure you could twist a local fisherman's arm with a few quetzals).
At night, we made our way around to San Pedro La Laguna. There's no direct road from Panajachel, so you have to go back on yourself and then come down a 'in construction' road with hairpin bends. Once in San Pedro, it was hard to navigate around the town, with not only one-way systems, but also narrow roads, only accessible to tuk-tuks. We found this out the hard way, reversing down these roads with motorbikes whizzing past. Gwyn signed us both up to the San Pedro Volcano sunrise trek. For the record, I was all for the paragliding...