Lago de Atitlán

25th May 2011

Panajachel [3] (or Pana as the locals call it) on Lake Atitlán at 1500 metres made a good base to explore the villages scattered around the lake. We enjoyed our stay at the Posada de los Volcanes hotel. For Mayans “Atitlan” means “the place where the rainbow gets its colours” and it is a beautiful place. On a clear day 3 magnificent volcanos, San Pedro, Tolimán and Atitlán can be seen towering over the lake. The village is all about tourism, shops and stalls full of all sorts of colourful souvenirs line the streets – the main street is 10 “no gracias” long.


Sunday is market day at Santiago Atitlán on the other side of the lake. By the time we arrived on the chicken boat the village was bustling with men, women and children, most dressed in traditional attire unique to the village. The men wear knee length woven cotton pants, some with stripes, others with an intricately embroidered pattern around the bottom, an embroidered sash, long sleeve shirt and finished off with a cowboy hat. The women´s blouses have an exquisite embroidered pattern such as birds or flowers around the neck. They wear these with a bright woven, wrap around skirt, tied up with an embroidered sash with a colourful shawl over the shoulder. We sat and listened to the melodious sounds of hymns coming from the overflowing 1547 church just off the main square.


On Monday we went by boat, which only goes when it is full, to the villages of San Pedro La Laguna and San Marcos La Laguna. San Pedro sits below the volcano of the same name. Both villages have significant populations of feral gringos and instead of beauty and tranquillity had a creepy feel. The women of San Pedro wear lovely coordinated blouses, skirts and aprons, quite different to Santiago just a few kilometres away.


Carlos, we called him Caro (expensive) because he charged gringo prices, took us in his tuk tuk to the lakeside villages of Santa Catarina Palopó and San Antonio Palopó. The women of both villages weave and wear brilliant blue – the colour of the lake.


Volcán Tolimán with Volcán Atitlán behind

Fishing on the lake

1547 Church at Santiago de Atitlán overflowing with worshipers

Carved saint re-dressed by local women each year

Women at Santiago market

Men discussing knives for sale at the Santiago market

Children on the Santiago church steps

Family in their Sunday best

Beautiful embroidery on the blouse favoured by the women of Santiago

Hat made from 30 meters of embroidered ribbon wound round and round

Santiago man´s embroidered trousers

We liked these colourful parrots, so we bought this piece

Panajachel lakeside restaurant

Volcán San Pedro

Market at San Pedro la Laguna

Ladies bargaining at San Pedro market - they all wear aprons here

Old man climbing up from the lake

1541 Cathedral at Panajachel has the original facade

Carlos took us in his tuk tuk

Church at Santa Catarina Palopó

Lady weaving - Santa Catarina

Typical blue, the colour of the lake, worn by ladies in Santa Catarina

Santa Catarina cemetery matches the colours of the dresses

The village of San Antonio Palopó on the lake shores

Women in San Antonio Palopó wear a thin headband

Typical dress from San Antonio Palopó

Shorts worn by the men of San Antonio Palopó

Sololá man (from 500 meters higher up) makes a sale in Pana

Looking across the lake at the volcanoes