Waking up in San Pedro was such an alluring experience, that I didn't want it to end. That morning our surroundings were so silently beautiful that you could hear the slight breeze pass your cheek. The sun did such an exceptional job of saturating our room with warmth and a glorious golden glow that it brought a sleepy smile to my face. Those moments make you want to quit your job and move to a tropical paradise so that each day can start that way. I imagined myself waking each morning to that sun and that lake and those volcanos - reading the morning paper or a novel that I can't put down, while sipping some fresh local coffee and munching on some freshly picked fruit. "Yeah, I could do that" I thought to myself as I watched the ripples on the lake slowly make their way to the dockside. That view! It was perfect, and it will always remain a fond memory.
Once we were able to break ourselves away from our lakeside balcony, we went for breakfast. Our big day of adventure was about to begin! The day prior, we organized a guided horseback tour with Shelley and Doug which would take us along some phenomenal views of the lake and the village to a small coffee plantation.
We ate at the closest lakeside restaurant. Breakfast was good and the coffee was delicious as usual. The four of us set off to meet our guide and saddle up. After making sure that we were all comfortable with our horses, our guide demonstrated how to turn, trot, canter, gallop and stop in a rough almost-English-but-not-quite kind of way. I quickly decided that galloping was scary and painful on your rear so I would be taking this trip in a slow relaxed speed (I think my horse appreciated that)! We set off - lead by the horse-master, and accompanied by our tour guide on a bicycle.
We moseyed along, passing streets that were more like sandy walkways lined by corrugated metal sheets separating the dirt road from someone's property. We passed a few rows of similar, intersecting streets while my horse grabbed any and all greenery along the way to nibble on. Eventually we got to a clearing in the road - one side covered in all sorts of coffee plants and a few homes, while on the other side there was such a breathtaking, unobstructed view of the lake and neighbouring volcano.
The Fedepma coffee plantation was definitely not what I was expecting! Actually, I had no idea what to expect so anything would have been unexpected. Everyone we met there were incredibly friendly, and even if they didn't speak English they would shine their bright smiles in our direction with a cheerful "hola!" The best thing about this plantation, however, was their passion, each and every person were all so proud of what they had accomplished (and they should be, that coffee was the best I have tasted!) and so excited to teach us about their intricate and labourious process.
We toured the plantation (a cooperative company that assists local farmers to process and sell their coffee beans internationally) and they also showed us their newest project, making honey from a colony of black honeybees. Finally, at the end of the tour, we were able to sample some fresh, local coffee - I had never tasted anything quite like it.
Jittery from a caffeine high, we all bought some (lots) coffee to take home, and then mounted our horses to continue our ride. Our steeds climbed up some narrow pathways to a few beautiful lookouts along the highest points of the area - each one was breathtaking in its own way.
At the end of our adventure, we decided to have late lunch at Hummus-Ya, a great little Middle Eastern place. We sat on their patio which was covered in greenery had some liquados and some hummus - very tasty! After lunch we went our separate ways, as Shelley and Doug were going to be moving on from San Pedro that night. (Steve notes: Shelley and Doug would take a boat across the lake to another village in Atitlan, where they'd spend the night. Also, Doug proposed to Shelley while there, but that's their story, not ours!)
Steve and I slowly wandered back to our hotel with sore bottoms from the bumpy horse ride. Along one of the main roads of San Pedro, we discovered a small little workshop. The one-eyed man inside was a woodcarver selling all sorts of handcrafted and painted wooden masks. We stopped and admired his work for a little while and bought a couple of pieces from him. The rest of the day we spent leisurely enjoying the village and its relaxed atmosphere.
That night we decided to go to for dinner at a restaurant named Jarachi'k. We walked through the entrance to an outdoor tree lined patio softly lit with a mixture of candle and Christmas string lights. The tables were all wooden with tree stub seats. After taking in our surroundings we noticed that two Israeli guys from the endless bus ride from El Remate to Semuc Champey were sitting at the table right in front of us! We sat next to them, ate dinner, drank beers and exchanged stories of our recent travel adventures through the country.