Chichicastenango and Atitlan Lake


At the same time I thought Guatemala was very “Americanized”, I give a good compliment to Guatemalans on the way they respect the indigenous culture and traditions. A great example of that is Chichicastenango town, or Chichi as they say in Guatemala. So, I decided to go a tour to the market that takes place there every Thursday and Sunday.

The market is very colorful, it reminded me Otavalo (Ecuador) ou Tarabuco (Bolivia). They sell almost everything but handcraft is their main business. It is a good place to buy travel gifts; their clothes and souvenirs are beautiful.  The bargain is obligatory here, if you don’t bargain, there is no fun. On the tour, I met Claudio, a Chilean mountaineer, who was my company to the bargain afternoon. We formed a “team” do ask for better prices and late afternoon we were experts on that art.

Cláudio com a bolsa que comprou para sua irmã, depois de uma tarde de pechincha…

Another stop of the day was the Santo Tomás church, a mix of a Catholic Church and Mayan temple. The religious syncretism is strong, like other place in Latin America (Cusco, Peru; Salvador, Brazil; Havana, Cuba) the mixture of two religions flow in a complex way on the eyes of a tourist.  The church, constructed by the Spanish colonizers, is located where before it was a Maya altar. From the former altar there is only the stairs, with 18 steps (representing the 18 months on Mayan calendar). And on these stairs the Mayan leaders do their offerings, sell flowers, incense, candles… The place really is worth a visit, not only for the church construction, candles, prays or offerings but specially for its environment, by the feeling of Mayan culture. It is here where I could understand a bit about this culture, seeing the religious rituals and hearing the region’s stories of struggles and power.

Our last stop was Panajachel, a small town by the Atitlan Lake. Twelve small towns surround the lake and 3 large volcanoes mark the landscape. Unfortunately, the day was cloudy and we did not see the volcanoes. Only from far away, on the road, we could see the top of one of them coming out above the clouds.

Even though I did not see the volcanoes around the lake, the place was beautiful. A strong wind, known as Xocomil, created waves on the water, and there is nothing like ending a day with a late lunch by the water appreciating the lake landscape and the sound of its waves.

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Check out other posts on Central America trip (April 2013):

7 comments to Chichicastenango and Atitlan Lake

  • Flores e Tikal  says:

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  • Caye Caulker  says:

    […] a 30 km da costa, uns 45 minutos de viagem. Lá me esperava Cláudio, quem eu conheci em Chichicastenango  e havíamos combinado de viajar juntos por Belize. Logo no primeiro dia, meu amigo já havia […]

  • Caye Ambergris, Belize 2013  says:

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    […] Chichicastenango e o lago de Atitlan (Guatemala 2013) […]

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