Promoted as a place for meditation and relaxation, San Marcos de laguna is anything but. Live Guatemalan music randomly booms across town day and night from a community hall on the hillside, numerous dogs bark throughout the night, and the roosters start crowing at 5:30 am. We might put up with all of this but we also learned to our huge disappointment that the beach was gone. Exceptionally heavy rainfalls in 2010 caused Lake Atitlan to rise several meters, destroying many lakeside facilities and washing away all the beaches around the lake in the process. Because the lake is basically a large volcanic crater there is no natural drainage, so the fear is that if the rainy seasons continue to be as heavy – one local we talked to believes they will and that climate change is to blame – more land, hotels, and homes will be washed into the lake. Not only will this effect tourism income in the area, but from town you can see the steep hillside plantations and fields that sustain the local Mayan population – heavier than usual rainfalls would likely wash much more of the topsoil into the lake as well.
On the brighter side, our room at the Paco Real is very comfortable, full of light, and spacious – feels like a rustic cabin but with laminate wood flooring. We’ll have to get used to the noise – something tells us that this is a fact of life in Latin America!