I did travel by van to Panajachel on Lago or Lake Atitlan located in the western part of the country. The lake is surrounded by three volcanoes and is really beautiful. I stayed at the Hotel Posada de Don Rodrigo right on the lake in Panajachel. It was the perfect choice for me.
One of my closest friends just stayed at the Hotel Atitlan and thought it was a perfect spot to stay. It looks lovely.
I traveled by boat to the small village across the lake where my guide, Sara Matzgar, introduced me to some local weavers. I am a textile collector and loved seeing and buying some wonderful pieces.
A real highlight of my trip was attending the Mayan New Year celebration on the Tuesday before Easter. I was taken by Sara and her family to a sacred Mayan site just outside of Tecpan. Her son was one of the Shaman who was participating in the ceremony. We arrived early to watch them build the altar. They started making the sign for the day in colored sugar. Then round pieces of incense were added along with multicolored candles, cigars, flower petals, and pine needles. It was a colorful altar that was lit as the ceremony began.
The Shaman were all smoking cigars. All who came to the ceremony brought things to add to the altar. The group that had gathered were all greeted by the Shaman. There was praying toward the North, South, East and West as well as dancing and drumming. It was a wonderful experience as they prayed to the Mayan Gods. There were a few of us gringos present. We were welcomed and told that we could take pictures as long as they were used for good and as long as we told the world that the Maya people are still alive. I thought that was really a great message. I was also told that President George W. Bush had visited the site a year before and that it took a large number of Shaman to cleanse the site from negative energy after he left. Thought this was quite funny.
Situated along the shore of Lake Atitlán, three miles away from the popular tourist destination of Panajachel is Santa Catarina Palopó . The town is now known for its colorful street art project, Pintando Santa Catarina Palopó that has transformed the town. You should definitely check it out.