Saturday, 9 February 2019

Boat Trip on Lake Atitlan and Santiago Village

Greetings! In January, I visited Guatemala in Central America. My itinerary took me to Antigua, Chichicastenango market, Lake Atitlan, Santiago Atitlan village, and Guatemala City.

I had a wonderful stay in Antigua, one of Guatemala's former capitals and a UNESCO World Heritage site. You might like to see my post on Antigua here. From Antigua, I booked a shuttle van service to visit the open-air market in Chichicastenango. You might like to see the colourful handicrafts and textiles that I posted here.

From Chichicastenango, I continued on and stayed overnight in Panajachel, the gateway to Lake Atitlan and the twelve indigenous villages around the lake. The next morning I woke up to a beautiful view of Lake Atitlan at sunrise.

I took a boat ride across Lake Atitlan to visit Santiago Atitlan village and had a fantastic time there. I interacted with a few local women, visited the village church and market, and explored the village on foot, before taking another boat ride back to Panajachel.

LAKE ATITLAN

Guarded by the volcanoes Atitlan, San Pedro, and Toliman, Lake Atitlan is a great combination of scenic beauty, peaceful atmosphere, and rich in Mayan culture. The Lake is Guatemala's national and international main attraction.

On the morning of my visit, the weather was sunny, with clear blue skies, and the wind was calm as I waited for my boat to arrive. Knowing that Lake Atitlan is the deepest lake in Central America, with its maximum depth at 340 meters (1,120 ft), I was pleased to see life vests handed out to the boat passengers. The boat that I was on could accommodate twelve passengers and three crew members. Fortunately, we had a smooth ride both ways and did not need to use our life vests.

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

The boat is coming!

At first, the sound of water hitting the bottom of the boat seemed loud but I soon settled in the rhythms and enjoyed the spectacular scenery around us. The lake water glimmered in the bright sunlight. At a distance, I could see Fuego volcano actively spewed ash into the air every ten minutes or so.

Glimmering Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

View of active Fuego volcano from Lake Atitlan

As we got closer to our destination, I got a better look at the surrounding volcanoes and the local fishermen. It was very peaceful and beautiful. The boat ride lasted about twenty five minutes and we soon arrived at the dock of Santiago Atitlan village.

Volcanoes surrounding Lake Atitlan

A fisherman in Lake Atitlan

SANTIAGO ATITLAN VILLAGE

Santiago Atitlan (or shortened name Santiago) is one of the twelve lakeside Mayan villages around Lake Atitlan. The first inhabitants of the Lake settled here and it's where the Mayan villagers keep their traditions at its purest.

Upon landing, I followed the pier and walked slightly uphill to the main street of the village. There are small shops and local businesses lined up on both sides of the street. No matter where I looked, it was a visual treat. Fortunately, there was no tourist crowd so I took my time to walk and enjoy the village.

First view of Santiago Atitlan village

Boat by the pier, Santiago Atitlan village

Boat dock, Santiago Atitlan village

The main street in Santiago Atitlan village

Paintings at a local art gallery

SANTIAGO ATITLAN TRADITIONAL CLOTHING

Santiago Atitlan village is known as a boat building and arts and crafts center by Lake Atitlan. The village is also famed for its striking purple clothing.

I had read that if possible, visit Santiago Atitlan village on a Sunday to see literally every local woman wearing their best typical clothes as part of their traditions. Well, I was there on a Friday so when I saw two local women in a textile shop, I stopped to browse and spoke to them with my basic Spanish.

I learned that the older lady is 73 years old and was a mid-wife in the village. Both women wore colourful tops and long skirts with a fabric belt. Their tops showed embroidered birds and flowers. The fabric belt was a mix of Mayan red and purple, the colour of Santiago Atitlan village. The older lady gave me a shy smile and showed me how she created her head dress.

First, she let her long hair loose on one side. Then she wrapped the thick and very long red band around her hair. Next, she wrapped the band around her head several times until she reached the end of the band and tucked it neatly into the folds. It was an interesting process. The best part was she calmly sat down with her complete head dress and gave me a smile with pride. I thought she looked beautiful!

1. Let loose of the hair to one side

2. Wrap the band around the hair

3. Wrap the band around the head several times

4. Done! Here's the front

5. Here's the back

6. A beautiful smile with pride

The women in the village keep the Mayan culture alive by wearing their traditional clothing. I saw a few men wearing traditional shorts or pants with embroidery, however, most village men were wearing khakis or jeans.

SANTIAGO ATITLAN CHURCH and MARKET

Santiago Atitlan village is known for its worship of Maximon, a Saint created by Mayan priests back in the days. I visited the local church but did not take any picture inside.

The village market was busy and lively with many local villagers when I arrived. Once again, the colourful handicrafts were eye-catching. The vegetables and fruit were fresh and abundant.

Santiago Atitlan village market

Making corn tortillas

Woven baskets at Santiago Atitlan market

LOCAL TRANSPORTATION

There are many buses and tuk tuks in Guatemala. All the buses are painted in bright colours. One of the well-known local bus lines is Esmeralda. The public bus tickets are charged by kilometers and gas price! The tuk-tuks are usually red.

An Esmeralda bus in Santiago Atitlan village

A tuk-tuk in Santiago Atitlan village

SANTIAGO ATITLAN BOAT DOCK

A boat ride is a wonderful way to enjoy the scenery by Lake Atitlan and the surrounding villages. Once you arrive at any of the twelve villages, it's straightforward to walk from the dock to the village main street as I had done in Santiago Atitlan.

Santiago Atitlan boat dock

Boats by Santiago Atitlan village

All in all, I had a perfect day by Lake Atitlan and a wonderful visit to Santiago Atitlan village. The vibrant colours and what I experienced there will stay with me for a long time. My next and final stop is Guatemala City, before flying home.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your comments.

50 comments:

  1. Everything looks so colourful. It is good when people are encouraged to take pride in local traditions,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Ann. The Mayan traditions make the people unique. Thank you for stopping by.

      Delete
  2. I remember visiting Santiago as well, but don’t remember the boat ride. I remember seeing lots of blue and purple and visiting Maximon in a small and dark, candle-lit room. A beautiful, cultural, and colorful destination, Natalie! By the way, those brightly painted old American school buses are called “chicken buses”. At least that’s what we, gringos, called them. :-) After riding them a few times, it’s easy to see why they’re called that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm aware of the 'chicken buses' term, too, Liesbet. The locals seem to dislike that term so I don't use it.

      Delete
  3. I had no idea the locals didn’t like that term, Natalie. Thanks for pointing that out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The local tourism staff used the term buses and I used the same term :) They knew some tourists use the term 'chicken buses' and seemed to cringe when it was mentioned.

      Delete
  4. Loved all that BLUE water, sky and volcano in the first pics Natalie - and the lady doing the hair hat was pretty amazing too. I left you a note on my blog to answer your question about my very basic collages :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Leanne. The weather was perfect when I went on the boat trip and visited Santiago village. I thought your photo collages were great.

      Delete
    2. Hi Natalie - just popping back to admire that lake a little bit more and to say thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I've shared on my SM :)

      Delete
    3. Thank you, Leanne, for hosting and sharing. Have a beautiful week!

      Delete
  5. I found you via the Senior Salon. A very interesting post about a part of the world I know nothing about, and your photos are fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome, Clive, and thank you for your comment. I enjoyed my visit to Guatemala very much. It's known to be the land of eternal spring. I had perfect weather when I was there in January.

      Delete
  6. It's a world far removed from the one we know, Natalie, and looks very beautiful. :) :) Thanks so much for sharing it with me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jo, for your comment and for sharing your Monday walks with me. I love that there are so many beautiful places to discover.

      Delete
  7. Another beautiful travel essay, Natalie. My favourite moments were those between you and the local lady who shared the details of her head dress with you.
    SSG xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, SSG, for your comment. It's the human connections that make our travels more memorable, isn't it? My photo of that lady after she finished the head dress is one of my favourites in the People category.

      Delete
  8. Hi Natalie, we once had neighbours who were British but had lived in Santiago for many years before moving to Australia. It looks so colourful and the lake is just so beautiful. I could certainly see myself on a boat on the lake for a day. The women also look so calm don't they? I love that the lady showed you how to wear her headdress. What a beautiful experience for you. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sue - Lake Atitlan was magical with the three surrounding volcanoes, warm sunlight, and clear blue skies. The interaction that I had with the Guatemalan lady made my trip memorable.

      Delete
    2. Lake Atitlan sounds beautiful Natalie and you obviously had perfect weather. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us at #MLSTL and yes I agree the locals can certainly make a trip memorable. x

      Delete
    3. Thank you, Sue, for hosting MLSTL. I'm happy to take part.

      Delete
  9. What a glorious trip. Your pictures, the colors, the culture! Thank you for sharing this with us all. I feel like I took a little trip too! #globalblogging xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lisa, for your visit and kind comment. I really lucked out with the weather and interactions with the local women on this boat trip on Lake Atitlan.

      Delete
  10. She has indeed a beautiful gentle smile. I love finding local art galleries. Interesting post of a place I had no knowledge of, thanks Natalie!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Suzanne - There were so many vivid colours and beautiful arts to see in Guatemala. I'm really glad I took the trip.

      Delete
  11. Oh my goodness Natalie! I got all the feels from the pics in this post! The gorgeous lake, the beautiful lady with the long silver hair, fabulous smile and in beautiful colourful embroidered clothes. I want to buy all the things in that market/village - the baskets, the colourful embroideries, the art in that gallery! Thanks so much for sharing with us and linking up with my #ZTT xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Min - It was a gorgeous day on the lake and a beautiful visit to the village. Thank you for hosting ZTT. I'm happy to share my peaceful moments.

      Delete
  12. Hi, Natalie - The blue in your photos is absolutely incredible.
    I love reading about your travels, especially your focus on culture, traditions and connecting with the local people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Donna - I was soaking in the blue and other vivid colours when I was at Lake Atitlan. It's a beautiful and peaceful lake. The Mayan culture is very interesting, too.

      Delete
  13. I could see why you posted this for Zen Tips Tuesday Natalie. Beautiful and stunning scenery.

    Denyse

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Denyse, for your comment. Lake Atitlan was very peaceful and beautiful on the day of my visit. I thought I'd share it on ZTT.

      Delete
    2. And again, loved the water scenes as well as the local colourful shots.

      Thanks for sharing on Life This Week. Next week's optional prompt is: 7/51. Self-Care: Share Your Story. #1. 18/2/19. Denyse

      Delete
    3. Thank you, Denyse, for hosting. Have a beautiful week!

      Delete
  14. This is a beautiful place to visit. I love seeing culturally proud areas and learning about their lives and history xx Maria

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Maria, for your comment. I could see how Lake Atitlan and the lakeside villages are Guatemala's pride when I was there.

      Delete
  15. It looks like a beautiful place

    mollyx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Molly, for your comment. Yes, Lake Atitlan is beautiful.

      Delete
  16. You always go to the most beautiful places. Thanks for sharing them with us. #MLTSL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Patrick, for your kind comment. I greatly appreciate it.

      Delete
  17. Wow the blue of that water :) Absolutely gorgeous. I'm adoring your travels :) #MLSTL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The blue there is striking, isn't it? The weather was perfect when I was in Guatemala. Thank you, Jo, for stopping by.

      Delete
  18. What a glorious looking place Natalie! I love the pictures of the older lady winding the hair dress! Shared for #mlstl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Debbie, for your comment. I had a beautiful day on Lake Atitlan and in Santiago village.

      Delete
  19. Your colorful travel photos bring warmth to this cold, dreary winter weather. #globalblogging

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Bellissimamma, for your comment. I hope my photos brighten your day. I enjoy looking at them, while it's snowing outside.

      Delete
  20. I love that beautiful, beautiful blue water!

    #mlstl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too, Bethany :) The weather was perfect when I was there. Thank you for stopping by.

      Delete
  21. This looks like a perfect trip. Beautiful color all around. I would like to see a volcano some day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen volcanoes before but they were dormant. Seeing an active volcano for the first time in Guatemala is a thrill. Thank you, Victoria, for your comment.

      Delete
  22. Such a colorful place. I love the woman's hair and that she was so pleased to demonstrate. It is such a blessing to live in a time when we can travel to far off places and become familiar with other cultures with relative ease. Thank you for sharing your travels, Natalie. #MLSTL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a blessing to be able to travel for sure, Christie. I'm grateful to explore our world and learn from other cultures.

      Delete