Santa Cruz It Or Lose It
It’s been a rough month here at XelaWho HQ. From Donald Trump’s election to Eric Trump’s on-point Gordon Gecko impressions, we here at the magazine need a breather. And what better way to get away from it all than by indulging in a little weekend away on the lake? “But I’ve already partied hard in San Pedro and had my chakras realigned in San Marcos”, you say? Good for you, but we’re talking about a proper lake retreat a little off the beaten track in beautiful Santa Cruz La Laguna. True to the modern spirit of fully disclosing conflicts of interest, your faithful editor just moved to Santa Cruz -but that being said it’s still a top place to visit. So here goes with XelaWho’s shameless self-promotion/guide to doing ol’ Lago Atitlan like a local…
After breathing in way too many dusty black clouds put out by our cool but hardly eco-friendly camionetas, even the team here at XelaWho needs to get out of our beloved city for a couple of days now and again. So when we’re not being forced to flee to Mexico for the baffling 90 day ritual of The Border Run, most of us tend to head to the lake’s own Bermuda Triangle —San Pedro, San Marcos and Panajachel. There, days mysteriously vanish to hangovers sitting in fancy restaurants, staring at the lake, ordering bloody mary after bloody mary.
While we all enjoy a couple of bingey days in San Pedro every now and again, the promise to never drink or return again while on the Sunday afternoon chicken bus out of dodge gets old after a while. We’re also partial to trading crystals for a reikki massage in San Marcos, but that too can start to drag after the 10th time someone says that they just feel so much more in touch with local culture while sitting in a drum circle of 20 gringos chanting Indian words to aboriginal Australian music. And then there’s Pana —”Amigo! Amigo! Tuk Tuk! Antigua! Ganja!” Enough said…
So do yourself a favour and head to a real lakeside town where, refreshingly, everything isn’t catered to cashed up bogans. Nestled in between Pana and San Marcos, Santa Cruz is a small town with a little bit of everything. Since the hills are too steep for road access (read: no smog or no incessant honking), Santa Cruz has been largely cut off from the outside world -cut off, that is, until lancha service improved about 10 years ago. Yes, you can scratch your foreigner itch at the infamous Wednesday open-mic nights at renowned backpacker hangout La Iguana Perdida or with a classy dinner at La Isla Verde. But you can also check out the charming village up the hill, go rock climbing at Los Elementos, or have a beer gawking at the best sunset vista on the lake at CECAP’s Friday Pizza Night.
Whether you rent a stunning pad for you an 10 mates on AirBnB or just crash at the Iguana, you’ll be set for the weekend. Go for a hike, learn to scuba dive, or dip back into the aforementioned Bermuda Triangle if you are game. So if you can’t afford another splurge on hula hoops at Cosmic Converge or are just looking for a change, catch a bus to Pana and then cruz over to Santa Cruz to check out the lake’s best kept secret.