Guatemala Hiking: The Best Ones Don’t Seem to be on a Map – Panajachel to Tierra Linda

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I tried searching for it on a map. And Google actually knew where it was. Or so I thought.  Until I zoomed out and saw it was labeled wrong.

When I tried to locate it manually, it was not marked on Google’s Maps.

Locations like these are the heart and soul of a country – the ‘true’ places – the life blood of a society.

It’s one of those locales that help you realize that without travel, you’ve read only a page out of the book of life…

I guess Herman Melville’s famous statement is right, even with omnipotent Google.

Enter Guatemala, a place with beautiful amazing hikes.

We went on a hike to Tierra Linda and started from Panajachel, a place that is clearly marked on a map, and walked out of town to where we’ve gone previously to what we call the Onion Hike.

Ah, the friendly faces and people of Guatemala.  A lovely little shoeless woman wandered past with a great big grin on her face. She spoke to Greg, in kakchikel (she didn’t speak any Spanish.)

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Now we take a turn to the left, to the steep trails that climb into the highlands.

How many feet have walked on these paths? And for how many hundreds of years? What stories could these trails tell? And HOW do they climb these when it’s raining??

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure.” Jawaharial Nehru

Then I reached the part that always breaks my heart. Tierra Linda’s garbage system – from the town above, into the rivers, down the mountain and eventually into beautiful Lake Atitlan.

You can see the city of Panajachel

Eventually I reached where the trail meets the road into Tierra Linda.

I begin to pass the simple homes of uncomplicated and beautiful people…

and finally catch up to the group (and get called ‘Grandma’ – I won’t mention any names, Greg Jensen)

Look at that herd!

Soon we enter town, to the shouts of children yelling, “Gringoes! Gringoes!”

We’re as fascinating to them (or even more so) than they are to us.

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Turns out we have a following.

In many ways these scenes have become ‘normal’ to me. Adobe houses with dirt floors, men and women in their traditional clothing, little children, dirty and bare foot, staring in amazement or waving with glee.

But in many other ways, they’re still extraordinary, especially when I imagine what it might be like to live life as they do.

Many of the kids are happy and smiling until I hold up the camera. Then they put their serious face on.

But not this boy :D

There was an audience as the gringoes left town.

The dogs didn’t neglect giving us their full attention either. (Oh those mangy dogs, with absolutely no training. In fact I think it’s part of the culture to NOT train your dog. Or feed them.)

Friday is our colloquium (book club) day, so during lunch we pulled our Swiss Family Robinsons and discussed our favorite parts. That is, until the mosquitoes drove us away.

At home that evening, Greg remarks, “Guatemala is a beautiful country.” Yes, it is a tierra linda.

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