The Lake Atitlan Best Homestay Experiences with Mayan Families For Culturally-Curious Travelers
Lago de Atitlan is famous for the variety and rich culture around it. People say that every town and village has a different energy and character, even though they are close to each other. Now, with the public or the private boat services on the lake you can easily access anywhere on the lake shore. Also, you can take a tuk-tuk the small the towns and villages.
Panajachel is known for its large community of travelers from all around the World. San Marcos is home to community artists and hippies, people who do yoga, dance and practice alternative ways of living. Here you can find the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants. At San Juan, one can learn about the traditional way of making chocolate or textiles. San Pedro is well known for the best parties around the lake.
But what about Santa Cruz la Laguna?
Santa Cruz is a small remote village built up on a steep, jungle-covered mountainside. The main way to access the village is by boat, from Panajachel or from any other town around the lake. With just a few tourists, Santa Cruz is a tranquil and authentic village where you can experience traditional Mayan culture.
Moreover, the village can give you the best views on the lake and the volcanoes.
A story of a traveler:
“We stayed one night at a family in Santa Cruz, and it was a unique experience!
My name is Anna and I’m a Hungarian, 21 years old young traveller. With my boyfriend, we came to Central America with a one-way ticket more than two month ago. This is our first time so far from Europe and we want to learn about the culture and the people of these countries as much as we can. Sometimes we are always looking to talk or even live with locals, so we can see from really close the people’s traditions, daily routines.
We got the opportunity to stay for one night with a Mayan family in Santa Cruz. We met Cruz, the father of the family at the docks and after a short tuk-tuk ride arrived at his home near the top of the village. After meeting Cristina (Cruz’s wife and their two lovely boys), we were shown our beautiful, clean private room, with a king-sized bed (the most comfortable I’ve slept in since we arrived to Central America 🙂 ), and a small but adequate bathroom. Cruz told us, that they built their house just a year ago: there are three levels and on the top, there is the kitchen with a balcony…
You can have a pretty view almost everywhere in Santa Cruz, but this took my breath away: you can see the whole village, the lake and the three volcanos. We had a really good conversation, about how they live their life, how the kids go to school, what they learn, how the people in the village grow and make their own coffee, and what kind of food are they eating and why are all women wearing the traditional Mayan dresses. They also had a lot of questions how is the university in Europe, why and how are we travelling, how can we speak English and what is our opinion about Guatemala. Even though our Spanish was not the best, and they only speak a little English, we managed to understand each other, and more importantly practice our Spanish. We voluntarily helped making traditional dinner and we ate together.
In the morning we watched the sunrise while we had the best homemade coffee in the World!!! 😀 After breakfast, Cruz left for work, the older boy to school and we went to explore the village.
I’m glad I had the chance to experience the real life of a Guatemalan family!”