What is the chance of running into a random relative in a random small town in Guatemala? And what is the chance of that relative actually knowing that you are relatives, and seeing family similarities with you and his grandmother?
That is exactly what happened our first night in Santa Cruz la Laguna by Lago Atitlan. We had booked a night at a hostel called Arca de Noe, but the staff left suddenly without telling us how to turn on the water heater. We went to the neighboring hostel to ask for help when we bumped into 4 Norwegians, one of whom turned out to be the third cousin of Tuva’s mother, and the owner of Villa Eggedal. He was so thrilled to meet us (or mostly Tuva) that he offered us to stay with him for a few nights.
Turns out Knut-Erik went to Guatemala for the first time 32 years ago and now lives 3-4 months each year in his villa in Santa Cruz la Laguna. He has built up this lovely property the past 20 years and also has some apartments and guest houses for rent. We were lucky enough to borrow an apartment with a fantastic view of the lake and its surrounding volcanoes. It was a big step up from Arca de Noe.
We were told that Arca de Noe used to be one of the good hostels by the lake, when it was run by its previous owners, but since new owners took over the place last year it has been going downhill really fast. It was a weird experience, and we’re glad we met Knut-Erik so we could stay somewhere else.
For people visiting Lago Atitilan we really recommend staying in Santa Cruz la Laguna, as it is a quiet and relaxing place to stay without too many hippies and party peeps, compared to San Marcos or San Pedro la Laguna. We also recommend Villa Eggedal for longer stays, or hotel La Iguana Perdida. It’s really easy to get around the lake using water taxis costing from 10-20 GTQ, or Tuk-Tuks between some of the towns.
See more pictures from Lago Atitlan and the rest of our travels in Guatemala here.