From Antigua, we traveled to Lago de Atitlan via shuttle. We landed first in Panajachal and since we arrived quite late in the afternoon, stayed the night in a cute bed and breakfast. Jenna River’s Bed and Breakfast is like a tiny slice of heaven on earth. She has these luxury yurts (we had a jacuzzi, they were luxury). The door opened out to the incredible view of the sparkling lake and three volcanoes. Oh, and her food! She’s such a good cook. The children didn’t want to leave.
It felt slightly terrifying with the littles as they kept trying to climb the stairs to the top – the yurts are built into the mountainside. Which of course made me feel like they were going to trip or otherwise inherit my natural grace (read clumsiness). Otherwise, they just loved playing with the adorable dogs, eating chocolate mousse and taking in the volcanoes from afar.
The next day, we traveled by lancha or boat to the next lake town – San Marcos and stayed at El Bosque Encontado – The Enchanted Forest. The children were in love here too. There were forest paths through their garden and children to play with. The community in San Marcos is this eclectic mix of hippies doing yoga, reiki, meditation, etc and local Guatemalans.
We took a lancha (boat) to San Juan and took a guided tuk tuk tour of the cooperatives on what was probably our favorite day. The Mayan community of San Juan La Laguna has created these fair trade cooperatives around the traditional practices they were already doing, and they’ve created guided tours to bring in more income. It was such a great way to see and support the community and such a sustainable way for the community to do things. We were taken on a tour of the weavers cooperative first and the children were enthralled! They saw how cotton is grown (on these tall structures, taller than them), picked, spun and woven into thread. They each got to try their hand at spinning. They marveled at the plants used to dye the thread and process of weaving.
Next, we saw Mayan bees. M has spent a good chunk of his summer at the garden in Madison through his time at elder camp. He has a good understanding of honey and bees. He was fascinated with how different the Mayan bee species are and how vastly different their structures are. And they don’t sting! Plus the children LOVED the honey sticks.
Finally, we toured a coffee farm. La Voz que Clama en el Desierto. The Voice that Calls in the Desert. L fell asleep for this one, and while M didn’t really care about the coffee itself, the series of tubes and machines that separates the first quality coffee from the second quality coffee fascinated our little engineer. We got to taste some delicious coffee at the end, it was pretty great.
We spent the evening back at the Enchanted Forest where our kids played with the children who live there. It felt like a magical evening for our family. Traveling with kids is so incredible, full of challenges, yes! But, it’s such a delight to experience the world through their eyes, to see how they connect to new experiences and places and revel in their sense of wonder of adventure.