How cool to have the EXPERT from tripadvisor as your personal guide! Thanks to Nancy Hoffman who set us up , we had a fantastic two days with Lee.
Spending time was like being with a super knowledgeble old friend, we had an instant rapor, but Lee is so personable I think just about anyone would feel this way.
Lee met us in Solola and we toured the town and the market, we did not get to Chichi but we really got the feel of a authentic market. the highlight was "snake oil" salesman selling some stuff that would cure everything and would even serve as birth control! hmmm! He spoke in a native language and in Spanish. I saw many of the local women meet my eye and roll them and smile, it was lovely experience.
Next we visited a small village with a breathtakingly authentic colonial church with an incredible mix of indigenous motifs and Spanish symbolism. He was very knowledeble in pointing out the sort of detail that you would just not pick up on a first look. We then toured some other areas with breathtaking scenery of the lake from very high up.
Probably the truly special moment of the trip was when we pulled over at a remote high spot and Llee was greeted with great affection by a group of young girls who obviously adored him and they became our "guides" for a short hike out to a look out point and some caves. There was a shaman conducting a ceremony out there. The past is alive and well in this region.
Lee explained he is very involved in organizations that help and educate local kids. His fondness for the youth and the local culture was very eveident!
The next morning Lee met us in Pana and gave us a day long tour of the lake with a focus on Textiles. We had our own boat and we stopped half a dozen times. we saw the Beals Los Elementos and we would have been thrilled to stay there. The rentals are built in a classic Guatemala colonial style. In a past life Lee was a plant and gardening expert and is working on finding an easy to grow, non invasive cash crop for the local indigenous population. He has found one and I recommend You let him show it to you.
we stoped at several villages noted for there art work and textiles, visited a womens copperative , We did some very efficient shopping , ate a delicious and inexpensive lunch in the most local place you could imagine and loved every minute.
The last stop in the afternoon was in Santiago, where the crafts were great and I bought wonderful art work and textiles. we visited the local square and church and heard the sad history of the atrocities suffered by the local population during tne unrest. Lee knew everyone and was greeted warmly everywhere, I loved that we got to really interact with tne locals. I got more than one hug from a lovely local lady after being introduced by Lee.
O f course we visited the shrine to Maxsimon, fascinating and I am now trying to entice our local watering hole set up a shrine to this extremely INTERESTING entity, who likes to drink and smoke and bestows prosperity to his followers. We loved having a private guide and not being on someone elses schedule, it was , as everthing in Guatemala is , a bargain. Lee is exceptional and we just loved our time in Atitlan.
Lee, your AWESOME!
We had such an awesome time with Lee , we just can not say enough about how great this experience was!
i will cut and paste this post to center spot here on tripadvisor.