María the Bonesetter, Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán healer

A visit to a traditional Maya Huesero. One evening I was walking down a familiar shortcut in San Pedro La Laguna. I hadn’t bothered to turn on my cellphone light. The tip of my sandal caught on a rock and I fell sideways, landing on a chunk of concrete, my hands clenched beneath my right ribs. Breathing was painful, all […]

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Semana Santa at Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Guatemala holy week

Holy week at Lake Atitlán is a blending of Mayan and Christian Tradition. Living in La Antigua Guatemala affords me the opportunity of being right in the heart of one of the grandest celebrations of Lent (Cuaresma) in all of Latin America—Semana Santa! Last year, I even had the good fortune of experiencing some of the Holy Week festivities on […]

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MIXED MEDIA ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY

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Friday. MIXED MEDIA ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY CONTRASTS with works by Lisa Simms and Mario Ajanel. Posada de Santiago, Santiago Atitlán. Tel: 7721-7366 A young Tztu’jil Maya schoolteacher and dedicated photographer, Mario Ajanel will present two collections of his work in his first public exhibition, which opens Feb. 19 at Posada de Santiago in Mario’s hometown of Santiago Atitlán. “The Colors of […]

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Labor of Love — Iyom Chona Rax

Guatemala midwife

“I’ve delivered six generations of children. I didn’t count exactly but the number is around 2,000 babies.” The towering portrait of midwife Doña Chona Rax near the Santiago dock in San Pedro La Laguna is remarkable not only for its artistic beauty, but also for the vitality and strength that radiate from its subject. Canal Cultural, the artist collective that […]

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Roberto Luz

Festival performers: Naik Madera

Roberto Luz is a tall, enigmatic man with long, dark hair and the posture of the perpetually preoccupied: head bent slightly forward, eyes in the middle distance. In person he’s charming and informed, but when talking to him one cannot help but feel as if he’s simultaneously elsewhere, listening to a music the observer cannot hear. He may very well be.

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The Bird-bound, Labyrinthine, “No Name Gardens” of Atitlán

Guatemala’s exquisite botanical colony plays push and shove with weed and water — and sometimes with people Everyone knows that cacti need little water. But in Guatemala’s most spectacular garden, the cacti are more watered than other plants. This is hardly the fault of the gardeners. They are not the ones doing the watering. This botanical garden abuts another Central […]

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Trauma In Paradise

Written By Dr.Alejandro Paiz The waters of Lake Atitlán have a sedative force when you observe them, especially with the typical spectacular sunsets as a backdrop. Until recently, this was the only balm available for the poorest of the mentally ill in the Atitlán Basin. The beauty of the region hails from its unique topography, an irregularity that, while lovely, […]

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Where Quetzaltrekkers Dare

Text and photos by Robin Canfield

Written By. Robin Canfield I’d like to blame the altitude; I don’t think I’ve ever wheezed so much in my life as I did on my recent trek in the Western Guatemalan mountains. It’s not as if I was trailing behind the group —I usually kept up quite well. And when I was trailing, it was because my film-crew partner […]

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Santa Cruz La Laguna

Santa Cruz La Laguna

text/photos by Carla Berryhill I have been to Lake Atitlán several times since moving to Guatemala. For me, there really is no one town or village on the lake that stands out more than the other because I think they are all interesting, beautiful and unique—but, my personal favorite is Santa Cruz La Laguna. There are no roads to Santa […]

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Bad-Ass Bass Rain from the Sky

Karla S. is among the many anglers who frequent the Panajachel piers for bass. (photo: Brennan Harmuth)

53 years ago, an airplane wrought sudden, significant alterations in Lake Atitlán’s food chain Flying fish inhabit oceans, not lakes. Well, except for one sunny day in 1958. If you were looking at Lake Atitlán then, you would have seen big fish on the fly. They arrived in tubs welded into what was, judging from eyewitness accounts, a Sikorsky seaplane, […]

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Lake Atitlán: Up Close and Cozy

I did not pick the name “Lake Views” for this column, but it stuck nonetheless. So I should probably make the lake my topic at least once. There is no counting the number of times—it is too many—that I have read that Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) called Atitlán the world’s most beautiful lake. He would know, being one of the best-traveled […]

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A Walking Tour of “Old” Panajachel

Panajachel is firstly a walking city. If you drive in it, you soon tire of the paucity of two-way streets. And every rocky contour of those streets registers on the pant-seat of every chicken-bus rider. Tuktuks look fun, until you actually ride in one. And much of Pana is not overly bike-friendly. So, unless pogo sticks catch on, feet remain the preferred vehicle.

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Festival Atitlán

The Festival Atitlán returns for its 9th year, once again celebrating springtime with music, dance, theatre, graphic art displays and workshops, plus a great kid section, and a promise of a beautiful day with family and friends outdoors on the shores of Lake Atitlán. As is the custom, the proceeds are donated to a local good works project. In the […]

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The Blooming of Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán by (photo by Harris & Goller)

Panajachel unites and digs with defiance In The Green Felt Jungle, the story is told of a dapper man in pinstripes who rides a Cadillac into Las Vegas one night, seeking the neonized excitement of that gilded city. But he finds little more than a dreary gas station. “Where is Las Vegas?” he asks the Navajo attendant. “Right here,” is […]

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Ursula Baumann

Art Exhibit and Auction, Thurs., May 14, 7 pm. Theatre El Chapiteau, Panajachel, Lake Atitlán A host of Guatemalans, including four-footed ones, are glad that Ursula Baumann changed continents and careers in 1998. She had been an able but often bored hotel manager in her native Switzerland. For decades she dreamt of making her avocation, painting, into a career. After […]

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Semana Santa on the Lake: San Pedro La Laguna

Offerings of fruit adorn the gateways through which the processions pass. (photo: Victoria Stone)

written by Ana Flinder Semana Santa is undoubtedly the most festive week of the year in Guatemala, celebrated with the most pomp and grandeur in La Antigua, and with deeply traditional ceremonies and indigenous style in Santiago Atitlán. Both of these destinations require advanced bookings for lodging but are not the only places to experience a Guatemalan Semana Santa. San Pedro […]

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Semana Santa on the Lake: Santiago Atitlán

The men’s traje of Santiago features rows and rows  of hand-embroidered birds. (photo: Victoria Stone)

written by Ana Flinder Those of you who have your place to stay in La Antigua Guatemala for Semana Santa are sure to enjoy what is known as the second-biggest and most spectacular Semana Santa celebration in the world. (Second only to Sevilla, Spain, so they say.) And you know who you are. Because they also say that if you […]

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The Festival of Consciousness 2009

Written by María Elisa Murray Presenting new solutions for a better world What does it mean to be conscious? How conscious are we in our lives? How can we become more conscious as individuals, as a community, as a planet? To answer these questions and more, the inaugural Festival of Consciousness will be held in San Marcos La Laguna on […]

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La Cambalacha Youth Art Initiative

Gabriela (Gabi to her students) leading a dance exercise

Text and photos by Jennifer Block Restoring creative expression through direct action, Gabriela Cordón aims to transform Guatemala’s educational system via her youth arts initiative. You’d be forgiven for thinking La Cambalacha is just another summer camp for kids. The place spills forth with color and laughter. On stage, a group of children practice a clown routine; another group makes […]

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Festival Atitlán

Ranferí Aguilar and Hacedor de Lluvia (Rain Maker)

March is coming, time for Festival Atitlán. On March 14, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Santiago Atitlán will once again host this annual alternative cultural event featuring live music and arts. Since 2001, there have been six festivals, each one more interesting than the last. Proceeds from the past four festivals have been donated to help rebuild Hospitalito Atitlán, which was destroyed by mudslides from Hurricane Stan in 2005.

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Birthday Parties

Birthday cake face (photo: Dwight Wayne Coop)

My sons are still in their cavity-prone years, so I attended 19 birthday parties last year—three for my boys and 16 for their playmates. Each had its odd turn or twist. To avoid the charge of ethnocentrism, I’ll admit here that Central Americans do no worse a job of honoring their birthday boys and girls than do parents in the […]

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Just call me Indio

Francisco Quiej calls himself “Indio” by DWC

One of Panajachel’s most colorful and asked-about personages, tourists and locals know him as a master craftsman who sells his own handiwork. Self-promoter, religious huckster, iconoclast, “loco”—Francisco Quiej has been called all these things; none is anywhere near the truth. “Indio” is what he calls himself, even though his fellow Mayas consider the term an insult. This renaming took place […]

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