Paying respect to Maximón

Santiago Atitlan Travel Blog

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Waiting for the boat to Santiago

After breakfast we decided to go to Santiago Atitlan which is a small town on the other side of the lake. While waiting for a boat we were tricked into taking a boat to Panajachel since the captain claimed that the only way to take a boat to Santiago was from Panajachel. Once on the boat several of the other passengers told us that we should've take a boat to San Pedro which was in the opposite direction and that from there it was really close to Santiago.

The boat was really packed so we had to split. Half of the group went on the back and the other half sat in the front. I was in the front group and as soon as we started going we had to cover ourselves with a big nylon cover because the lake was a little rought and the water was coming on the boat everytime we hit a wave which was every 5 seconds.

Our ride
The group on the back had similar problems but they weren't so lucky as to count with something to cover themselves. A minute after we left Mike was soaked with lake water.

Since the recent experience with the public boat wasn't that great we decided to hire a boat just for ourselves and that's how we hire Alfonso (El Capitan) and his boat Titanic. He charged us Q.600.00 (about $80.00) for the whole group for a trip to Santiago, back to Panajachela and then to Jaibalito. I think it was a good deal.

Once in town Perla negotiated a tour of the town in tuc tuc. Our fist stop was along the highway where we had a great view of the San Pedro vulcano. We also saw local woman washing their clothes in the lake probably in the same way their ancestors have been doing it for centuries.

Inside the Titanic

The next stop wasn't as cheerful as the first one. We were taken to the Parque de la Paz (Peace Park). This was the site of a massacre during the 90's. The whole town were protesting the execution by the army of the local priest. The priest was an american and it was really loved by the community. The soldiers responded by opening fire against the crowd. 13 people were killed including a 5 year old. The park has a marker on the spots where people died. If anything good came out of this was that after the incident the army closed the base. Now, we were told, a mass is celebrated in the park each year to conmemorate the fallen.

Now it was time to visit Maximon. Maximon is a deity revered troughout the Mayan highlands. Assumed to be a combination of Mayan gods, Pedro de Alvarado (The spanish conquistador of Guatemala) and the biblical Judas.

Overlooking the San Pedro volcano
Maximon is a wooden figure draped in colorful silk scarves and smoking a fat cigar. Local guard and worship him, singing and managing the offerings made to him. His favorite gifts are Payaso cigarretes, and Venado rum. Maximon doesn't have a fixed address. Each year memebers of the cofradia (elders of town), decides who will have the honor to have it for the year.

We found Maximon in a house with no special markings at all. When we enter three locals were around him making sure that you pay to Maximon if you want to take a picture of him. Again we saw the mix of catholicism and mayan religions here. On the side there was a glass casket with a life size image of Christ. The whole experience is very weird and is a must see if you go to Santiago.

We made a short visit to the local church where they have a small memorial to the priest that was killed.

Local laundrymat
Afterwards we made a stop by a bank since most of us were running out of quetzales. I was waiting outside with Karissa and Bridgete. We were enterteined looking at the local kids spending their money at a used toys shop. Most toys had a price of Q.3.00 (about $0.40). Here is where I saw one of the nicest things that anybody has done. Karissa approached the owner of the toy sale and offered to buy one toy for each of the kids present. The kids didn't speak much spanish so the guy had to translate to them in their tongue. Their eyes lit up and smiles appeared once it was clear to them what the lady tourist said. After everyone picked their toys, I took a picture of Karissa with a couple of girls who were super shy but really cute.

 

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Waiting for the boat to Santiago
Waiting for the boat to Santiago
Our ride
Our ride
Inside the Titanic
Inside the Titanic
Overlooking the San Pedro volcano
Overlooking the San Pedro volcano
Local laundrymat
Local laundrymat
Peace Park
Peace Park
Maximon and his guards.
Maximon and his guards.
Santiago Atitlans church
Santiago Atitlan's church
Santiagos school
Santiago's school
Local Toys R Us
Local Toys R Us
Karissa and tow of the lucky kids …
Karissa and tow of the lucky kids…
Our ride around Santiago
Our ride around Santiago
Santiago Atitlan
photo by: Biedjee