The Diez Minudos Syndrome
Those ones experienced with traveling in Latin America would know the "mañana syndrome" affecting population at these latitudes ("tomorrow" usually meaning an undefined time in the future). If planning to take a boat at Lake Atitlán, prepare to deal with the local interpretation of that, i.e. the "diez minudos syndrome", in accordance to which every boat is departing in "ten minutes" that regularly become half a hour and more, up until what it takes to get the boat packed through the very last seat available (and even beyond). It's not properly a tourist trap or a scam, it's just the way it works here.
My boat in Panajachel was, of course, leaving in diez minudos, that turned out to be more than half a hour. Seating in the boat on the shore, with the captain keeping telling me "vamos a llevar in diez minudos, amigo", I was so frustrated I wanted to leave, but then I realized I should have faced other diez minudos from some other one so I decide to put up and wait.
If planning to take a boat, be prepared! Be as patient as you can possibly be and ... wait those diez minudos.
- Arts and Culture
Know the Price Before You Go!
As soon as you get near the lake, you will be accosted by a swarm of people trying to get you to go with them to cross the lake. They tried to tell us that the public ferry cost $100 US to go round-trip and they said they would take us for only $70 per person.
Unique Suggestions: We had a Guatemala guidebook with prices so we told them they were lying and the public ferry is only $2.50 RT and then they dropped their offer to $10. We ended up getting a ride for only $7.
Fun Alternatives: If you don't want to go on a private boat, you can always take the public ferry but it's extremely crowded and leaves on a (supposedly) set schedule so you might have to wait a while.
- Sailing and Boating
- Budget Travel
Every guide book I read called this city a tourist trap. Yes there are a lot of expats and bars, and souvenier shops. We decided to stay down the road in a quieter area because of this.
Unique Suggestions: Have fun!! We actually like the little town and will most likely stay there ourselves on our next visit. There is so much left unlearned that we want to go back soon. We will most likely divide our time between Panajachel and the beautiful Casa Palopo.
- Budget Travel
Although there are many traps in Guatemala, one of my favorites involves the stop we made on the road to Panajachel. You see as soon as one steps out of their vehicles the kids arrive by the dozens asking you to buy whatever it is they are selling, if you do buy, you are stuck with hordes of kids asking you to buy more items. If you don't buy they ask for spare change or whatever it is they see in your vehicle, for example, gum, apples, chips etc.
Unique Suggestions: If you must make a stop make it a quick one and if you decide to buy or give a needy child some spare change do it after you have taken care of business and in the safety of your vehicle.
- Road Trip