Paying respect to Maximón
Santiago Atitlan Travel Blog› entry 10 of 11 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.