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Lake Atitlan

Surrounded by mountains, volcanoes and indigenous villages, Lake Atitlán is like entering another century. The natural beauty is apparently still unspoiled. The mountains and the volcanoes seem to just drop right into the lake.

The lake is the ideal place for tourists to see some of the highland villages with people wearing their traditional clothing and carrying out their daily routines. Panajachel is the center of much of this activity because it has the closest access to the main highway to Guatemala City and to the main market roads that are the economic center of the country.

The pier in Panajachel this where the boats leave every morning for the various villages on the shores of the lake. Across the lake one can see three volcanoes, San Pedro, Toliman, and Volcan Atitlán.

This is a celebration of the feast day of San Pedro the patron saint of San Pedro La Laguna, one of the indigenous villages on the lake. The ceremony is known as the dance of the conquest and the red haired Spaniard center stage represents Pedro de Alvarado, Cortez's man sent to conquer the lands south of Mexico, which Alvarado did with a vengence. The dance represents the last stand by the native peoples of what is now Guatemala to withstand the Spaniards. This last stand was led by a chieftain named Tecun Uman, who now is a symbol of Guatemalan nationalism and pride.

Juan Sican, a young man from San Antonio Palopo. He hitched a ride with me this past summer

Vendors at the Santiago de Atitlán market

Santiago is the largest of the indigenous village on the lake and the market is the most important in the area except for the one at Solola, just up the road from Panajchel.

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