Lake Atitlán as seen from the road in the hills above the town of Panajachel, Guatemala.
One of the biggest tourist draws in Guatemala is in the highlands, Lake Atitlán, and the many towns that surround it. We stayed over night in Panajachel and then, led by a tour guide from Guatemala City, we took a boat to visit three towns: Santa Catarina, San Antonio and Santiago.
A view of Lake Atitlán, with the Atitlán Volcano to the left and the San Pedro Volcano to the right.
Our boat, Glenda
The first town we visited, Santa Catarina, was a pretty small town, and it was relatively early in the morning (around 8 or so), so many places were closed and few people were up and about.
Our approach to Santa Catarina, with a haze of smoke fire over the water
The church at Santa Catarina
Santa Caterina herself, in the church at Santa Caterina
A woman weaving a hiupul in Santa Catarina, wearing a blue hiupul, which is common to the woman of the town
The next town, San Antonio, was more awake, and we made our way to a ceramics studio and shop.
A sign on the road for a ceramics studio and shop
Ceramicists at work painting and finishing pieces
Some of the unfinished clay pieces.
Some freshly fired clay pieces, including pots and a bull
We also stopped by a textile studio and shop, where people were working away at looms.
Weaving by loom and by hand at a studio in San Antonio, Guatemala
An upclose view of the loom
Textiles for sale in San Antonio, Guatemala
The final town we hit was much larger than the other two. We also saw not just churches, but also Maximón — a kind of deity represented by an armless effigy in sombrero with a cigar in his mouth, his neck draped in countless ties.
The alley we had to walk down to get to the house where Maximón was on display. Each year, Maximón is housed in a different home.
Two people usually sit with Maximón all day and night, accepting offerings from believers and visitors alike. We paid about 5 quetzales (75 cents) each to get in, and then I paid about 10 quetzales ($1.25) to take photos.
Draped from the ceiling were colorful streamers as well as meats (a salami is at left) as well as taxidermied animals, such as this monkey.
What the photos don’t capture is the heady mix of cigar smoke, candle smoke and candle wax, and burning incense, which added to the strangeness of the place. This website tries to explain Maximón.
On the street of Santiago
On the street of Santiago
Buildings near the dock of Santiago that have been partially submerged because Lake Atitlán’s water levels are on the rise.
A fisherman in a dugout canoe on Lake Atitlán near Santiago, Guatemala.
Sunset over Lake Atitlán as seen fro Panajachel
Crit and Deborah in the sunset glow in Panajachel on the banks of Lake Atitlán in Guatemala.