Today was a very long, but fantastic day! The morning started with a boat trip across Lake Atitlan to the village of Santiago Atitlan. We took the public boat and the trip each way took about 1/2 hour. The morning ride across the lake was beautiful and calm. The return trip was somewhat bumpy, but it made for a more exciting ride.
When we arrived in Santiago Atitlan, we made our way from the dock to the Main Street. Santiago Atitlan is a fairly small village with a Main Street with vegetable and fruit markets and vendors selling handicrafts. My guide, Julio, knows some people in town so he took me to their house. The young girl, Anna, has been the face of Guatemala tourism for 10 years. The family invited us in and Anna showed me how she put on the traditional head dress. She also showed me the steam room where midwives deliver babies. It is a tiny structure built from stones. The expecting mother delivers the baby in the steam room with the help of the midwife. I can't remember the exact reason they do this, I'm sure it is a cultural thing. After the mother delivers the baby, she immediately drinks a glass of boiling rum. To prevent infection. The mother drinks this rum for 9 days. After Anna showed me the steam room and the front of the house, her mother invited us in to show me a traditional kitchen. It is a tiny room with sheet metal for walls and ceiling. There is one fire in the corner and that is what they cook all their meals on. It was amazing to see this and I appreciated them allowing me into their home and allowing me to take photos. The next stop was the church in town. This church is famous because in the 1970's the priest, from Oklahoma, was killed. The Indians loved him so much that part of the church has become a memorial to the priest. They never caught the person that murdered the priest. It is also a working church. It was pretty impressive. I didn't get photos because it was so dark, but it was interesting to see. Then we stopped for an iced coffee and back to the boat to transfer us back across the lake.
Once we arrived back in Panajahel, we hit the road, on to our next destination, Antigua. Julio wanted to take me through the mountains instead of taking the pan American highway. I was up for it! About halfway through the trip another tour van came from the opposite direction. Julio was so happy to see this. It meant that the road was open and there were no bandits on the road. I kind of wish he would have told me this before I agreed, but then it wouldn't have been an adventure. On the way I think we visited maybe 4 more villages, a farm, and another Cemetary. In one of the villages near Antigua, we stopped so Julio could show me how the women do laundry. It is a big communal pool structure and the women beat the clothes by hand and wash and rinse. The women were all smiles and happy to have their photo taken. They giggled a lot at me. I'm not sure why, but I didn't care. Julio says this is where the women come to complain and gossip about their husbands. No men do laundry here. After the laundry stop we went to another village. I can't remember the name as we visited so many places today. We were there to check out the women who weave blankets but stumbled across a traditional Indian wedding. Julio said it was ok to take some photos and the family giggled, and giggled while I was taking a couple quick photos. I, again, am not sure why, but I didn't care. After this village we made our way back to Antigua so I could check into my hotel.
Now, I'm in my room and I'm beat. I'm going to get some dinner and go to bed. We have been going since 8:00 this morning. So, almost 12 hours. Tomorrow I will see more of Antigua, then back to Guatemala City for an overnight. On Monday I catch an early flight to Tikal to see the ruins. I'm sad that tomorrow will be my last day with Julio. I've really enjoyed the time I've spent with him. He is 75 years old and knows just about everything about Guatemala. Everywhere we go he knows someone. He has taken me way off the beaten path, where most tourists never go. I appreciate that so much. It is great to see things that a person wouldn't normally see. I am lucky I got paired with him.
The photos are not great. I'm having some trouble editing files on my ipad, but you get the picture. Thats sort of a pun! I will post better photos when I get home.
Until tomorrow, maybe!