We woke up right around our 7:45 alarm again. Compared to Iran, where it took several days to get on the correct time, here it was no issue at all. We quickly got packed and cleaned up, but we were running a bit late. There were multiple full tables at breakfast also, so we were running even later. So we ended up meeting Aura at 9:15 instead of 9, but she didn't seem to mind, as we didn't have much on our itinerary today. We checked out of the hotel and were on our way. We were heading generally west-northwest from Antigua, and unfortunately there was a fair amount of cloud cover, so we couldn't see the volcanoes. Going through Chimaltenango there was a ton of traffic, so Joel took local streets to avoid the highway traffic.

After getting through town we got back on the highway, until turning off at Iximche, an old Mayan ruin. We never would have guessed there were any ruins in the area, as the temperature was brisk and full of pine and cedar trees. Iximche was the capital of a smaller Mayan kingdom from the late 1400s to the early 1500s. Smallpox decimated the city before the Europeans - as opposed to their germs - arrived. Pedro de Alvarado was the first conquistador to arrive at the city. The city was abandoned not long thereafter, and the ruins weren't found until the late 1600s, and wasn't really investigated until the 1940s. A ritual was carried out at Iximiche in 1989 to "reestablish" the ruins as a sacred place for Maya ceremonies.

There weren't many people at the ruins when we arrived. Because of that, and because of the surroundings, the whole area was very peaceful and serene. Aura told us that offerings are commonplace at Iximche, but there was nothing going on today, which was unusual. Aura surmised this was because of it being Holy Week. As we walked back towards the parking lot, we saw a lot more people, and the parking lot was over twice as full as when we arrived. Near the main highway, we dropped off Aura, as she was taking a "Chicken Bus" back to Antigua. A chicken bus is a retired US school bus that gets a new lease of life with a lot of upgrades (inside and out, particularly the paint job) as a transit bus. They are called "chicken" buses because particularly in more rural areas, people bring whatever they are taking to/from the local market on the bus, including chickens and other livestock.

After saying our goodbyes to Aura, we headed the opposite direction on the highway (west-northwest) and stopped about 10 minutes later at a restaurant. The highway was chock-full of restaurants in the area, and it seemed likely that this was the "halfway" point for people going between Antigua/Guatemala City and Lake Atitlan. Our restaurant was called Don Robert, and resembled a mountain lodge on the inside and out. It wasn't that cold, but for Guatemala this was "the highlands" which is cooler than the jungle or the coastal areas. We had our choice of chicken, pork, or steak to eat. Crystal got the steak, whilst Justin got pork. We both got a glass of Gallo, the most prominent - at least to our eyes - beer brand in Guatemala. The music was Guatemalan muzak, but we thought we recognized the song. Eventually Justin realized it was Frank Sinatra's "I did it my way." We weren't expecting to hear that where we were. Lunch was very good, and afterwards we used the facilities and checked out the grounds a bit, there were some nice bromeliads.

From the restaurant, we wound our way through the mountains towards Lake Atitlan. We were making decent time, but around the time we got to Solola, and the road got a lot steeper with switchbacks, there was tons of traffic. Our last mile probably took about 30 minutes; we literally could have walked faster. We turned off just before "town" (Panajachel) to our hotel, Hotel Atitlan. The hotel had nice grounds, and was very large. That was the good news. But there was a giant rave going on across a small bay, and our room faced right towards it. Moreover, our room had no view of the main volcanoes to the south, as the room was facing the wrong way. That was the bad news. We had hoped for a quiet hotel with nice views of the lake and volcanoes, where we could just relax. This was not it.

Crystal started reading, and Justin walked around the grounds a bit. Eventually he found a good reading spot, and went to grab Crystal. Seemingly everyone was by the pool, with no one at the other tables sprinkled around the grounds. We read for a bit in the middle of the garden, then found even better chairs and views near the event hall (which was empty today). As the sun started to go down, it got windy and a bit chilly, so we went into the bar. The bar had leather seating, candles everywhere, and dim lighting. It was the polar opposite of the pool outside, which had dance music and tons of people, plus all the rave music from down the coastline. It was much quieter in the bar. Justin got some Guatemalan rum, and Crystal got red wine. When we were done, there was an issue paying, as they told us we couldn't charge our drinks to the room, so Justin had to go to the room and grab his wallet.

Back at the room, the music seemed even louder, which was very frustrating. Justin tried to find out when the music would stop, and the people at the front desk shrugged and said around 11 or 12. They also didn't believe there were actually two separate performances going on, even though it was abundantly clear that two different concerts were ongoing, with different words, different sounds, etc. The folks at the front desk were generally un-empathetic, which was infuriating. So while Crystal read, Justin looked for a new hotel. He eventually found something that looked promising, and thereafter emailed our travel aagent to see if he could arrange the move. We never did grab dinner; instead we just stayed in the room and tried to sleep. We both listened to podcasts using our headphones, and even with that (and with our windows closed) we could still hear the rave music. We got to sleep around 10, we think.

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