View of Lake Atitlán and volcanoes from the Lookout “El Rey Mirador”
Getting ready to hike in a cloud forest.
We had a fairly strenuous hike through the cloud forest as our guide, Herman, pointed out the properties and uses of various plants. We were looking for the Guatemalan national bird, the Quetzal, but he proved illusive today. We also saw several men carrying 90lbs each of firewood with straps around their foreheads. We learned each man of the family might do this on average about 4 days a week in order to provide cooking fuel for the family.
Mr. Anthony arrived last night and joined the hike today.
We visited the Maya idol, Maximón, who resides in Santiago-Atitlán. He moves from house to house during Holy Week each year. The man who hosts him must quit his job and care for him the entire year. Maximón is a powerful idol for the Maya in this town. They come to him to make requests for health and fortune and when their wish is granted, they bring a new scarf or tie for him to wear. Even though almost everyone is Catholic or Christian in this town, religions and beliefs mix in harmony here. Images of Maximón are carved into the altar in the Catholic Church here.
In this church, Catholic beliefs live side by side with Maya beliefs. The American priest of this church was killed by the army during the Revolution, as he was accused of treating guerrillas in the hospital he started here. His body was taken back to the USA but his heart is buried in this church, forever with the people he loved and cared for.
We had some time for shopping and bartering for handmade crafts after lunch and had a ride back to the hotel in the local form of transportation, the tuk tuk,