San Juan La Laguna
Just down the road from San Pedro, San Juan is a short, but welcomed distance from it’s louder neighbor. If you’ve been staying in San Pedro, or Panajachel, San Juan immediately feels quiet. It’s about the same size geographically as San Pedro, but maybe with half the amount of people. There are far less tourists staying here as well, though like Santiago, it still receives a decent amount of tourist traffic throughout the day.
Because of its quieter nature, you can meander through the streets peacefully (though still, mind the tuk-tuks). And lining the streets in of San Juan are beautiful Murals, depicting various aspects of Mayan life and culture: from astrology, to cooking and medicine. What’s nice is if you find someone from the area who can stroll along with you and explain some of what you’re seeing. There are beautiful depictions of the Mayan Calendar, for example. Learning a little about the different Nauhals, and how the Mayan Calendar is constructed will help you make sense of some of the artwork you’ll see. And if you speak Spanish, ask anyone who’s around.
Also in town, and just up from the Dock, is the Mayan Weaver’s Association, which offers information and tours.
Further down there is an Medicinal Herb Garden, where for Q30, your group can check out the close to twenty different native plants being grown for medicinal uses. (If you’re from the states, you’ll recognize several of them.) Teas, natural shampoos and salves are for sale as well.
Finally, when you get hungry, Elenita’s is a great option. It’s larger than most of the other comedors you’ll find around the country, almost feeling like a cafeteria, but the prices aren’t any higher than normal, and the food is delicious. Also, the portions are generous! The lunch option of the day is Q20, and you’ll likely be more than satisfied when you leave.
Getting // Going:
From Panajachel: you can catch the slow boat to San Pedro, which stops at all the towns on the way. San Juan is the stop before San Pedro.
Or, if you catch the direct to San Pedro, you can catch a pick-up that will drive you to San Juan. The pick up leaves from the large central Church in San Pedro. The price is Q2-Q3.
Heading home, be sure to check out when the last boats leave, generally until between 4pm-6pm.