Since we were feeling very limited in our dining options in our isolated little village, D and I had the brilliant idea of utilizing Villa Eggedal's kitchen to cook ourselves dinner one night. We took a late water taxi across to Panajachel, which has the lake's most diverse selection of grocery stores. We took a tuk-tuk to La Dispensa Familiar, the largest supermarket in town, and stocked up on ingredients for hamburgers, including potatoes, buns, lettuce and a vibrant green Guatemalan hot sauce called 'Picamas.'
I believe the lettuce was the culprit of what waylaid our trip for the next two days, as I mindlessly washed it in the sink and topped our burgers with it. We both woke up rushing to the bathroom the next morning, and barely left the house for the next two days, admiring the misted-over lake from the balcony.
On day three post-food-poisoning, we dragged ourselves out of bed and caught a three-hour tourist shuttle back to Guatemala City, of which several leave per day. From the national airport (careful, there are separate national and international airports), we took a one-hour TAG Airlines flight to Flores, the picturesque island town that serves as a base for travel to Tikal, perhaps the most famous site in Guatemala and one of the largest ancient Mayan sites.
Flores was my favorite town in Guatemala, although it is not really considered a destination in its own right but a base for travel to the surrounding ruins. The entire island can be circumnavigated in around 15 minutes on foot, and food vendors set up nightly along the water to serve local customers, who blast music and set off fireworks in the street until the wee hours. Lazy and languid, humid and loud, it satisfied my taste for the tropics in a way that highland Guatemala didn't.
Where We Stayed
Hotel Casazul, Flores. Though it has a great view over the lake from the balcony, that is this hotel's one redeeming factor. Old and somewhat decrepit, with a barely functioning shower and inconsistent wifi, I can't say I recommend this place. US$52/night for a large but run-down room.
Where We Ate
Terrazzo Ristorante & Bar, Flores. One of the best places we ate in Guatemala, this restaurant overlooks the lake and has a selection of Italian pastas and pizzas, plus incredibly cheap happy hour cocktails. We paid around US$30 for two people, including drinks, an appetizer and two entrees.
Raices Bar & Grill, Flores. A decent breakfast spot that has good reviews for lunch and dinner as well. Also set on the lake (noticing a theme here?), we were able to watch fish congregating around the foundation of the deck as we ate. US$10.65 for breakfast for two people.
Pollo Campero, Santa Elena. Across the bridge in what is technically the neighboring town of Santa Elena is an outpost of the famous Guatemalan-born fried chicken chain, Pollo Campero. The chain has locations all over Central America as well as in several U.S. cities, including San Francisco and New York.
In contrast to most U.S.-based fast food restaurants, it features sit-down service and seemed to be a popular outing for families. The chicken itself was slightly spicy and not overly greasy, but I could've done without the plastic-wrapped tortillas served alongside. Around US$8 for several pieces of chicken, a side and a soft drink.