fear not faithful readers (does anyone other than my dad read this?) I am not lost in the central american selva, I´ve merely been incredibly distracted by rushing from one end of the region to the other... and by my mom, and a cold front, and elvis, and getting myself a job... and the list goes on.
So where did I leave off?
Somewhere back in Guatemala with Momma, which seems ever so long ago now. We spent much of the trip getting vortexed by the ever lovely Lago de Atítlan. After an exciting trip to Chi-chi and spending my mom´s entire retirement on bags we headed back to Panajachel on the southern shore of the lake. Our shuttle driver and his co-pilot on the way back from Chi-chi kept me entertained with solid banter with subjects ranging from the half naked chicas in el Diario to Pixar films. I was sandwiched between the two, egging them on by asking questions about fútbol slang. After arriving in Pana we headed down to the malacon to watch the sunset and ended up drinking a gallo while getting an extensive lesson in the differences between all the mayan huipiles (traditional shirts that the women wear). All the women, loaded up with their handicrafts, had stopped to hawk their wares not realizing that they had fallen prey to my voracious appetite for talking to strangers. Finally after sunset we pulled ourselves away from the waterfront and ate a disappointing dinner of pan-asian food (what was I thinking ordering Pad Thai in the highlands of Guatemala?).
Christmas Eve we headed over to Santiago Atítlan the home of an important Maya diety, Maximon. I failed to bring my camera to document this foray, a mistake I am not sure Lindy will ever forgive me for. Upon disembarking from our launcha we were gringoed into hiring a local guia, Francisco to take us to see Maximon and the big Catholic Church in the center of town. Francisco was all decked out the in stripy purple Santiago Atítlan spants and a cowboy hat of mexican origions. He dragged us up Santiago´s cobblestone streets to an unassuming house where Maximon currently resides.
Maximon in the result of the fusion of local Maya beliefs with Catholicism. The resulting religon is practiced in various forms throughout the highlands of Guatemala. Maximon himself is a god of pretty much everything. Francisco said you could ask for a husband (and offered up one of his friends for me), to make more money, to heal a sickness or injury. You usually turn to Maximon when ¨dios en el cielo¨ isn´t coming through for you. Most people bring him offerings of ron (rum), ties (the man is covered in them), cigars (he always has a huge one jammed in his mouth), and money (you tuck it in his ties). For an extra 10 quetzales you can take a picture with him. Francisco informed me that Maximon can in fact understand English as well as Japanese, Thai, French, and Italian, so if I was moved to ask him something I could go right ahead. I am not telling you what I asked for, I have a suspicion it is kind of like a birthday wish, where if you tell anyone it won´t come true.
After Maximon we headed up to the Iglesia to check it out. The walls on either side of this church are lined by huge wooden catholic saints all outfitted in mumu like dresses. The saints recieve new outfits every year sewn by the local people. There is a large alter for maize (a maya influence) near the front of the church. And as it was christmas there was an impressive nativity. Fracisco told us about the guerilla movement and all the problems that had happened around the lake during the the 70´s and 80´s. Santiago was a pretty amazing place to experience, really different from the rest of the lake.