Sunday, February 10, 2013

A world of color

After spending two weeks in Jardin de America Spanish school, re-learning Spanish grammar and building on my vocabulary, I've decided it's time to share with you some photos of the area - providing you with a larger picture of where I am working.  Although I have not moved forward with the interviews, I have made many contacts with the fishermen in my travels around the lake and look forward to using my renewed Spanish skills this week!

A beautiful anciana in Chichicastenango, Guatemala

 Panajachel is probably the most well-known town around Lake Atitlan.  It is usually the first place you arrive when visiting Lake Atitlan upon leaving Guatemala City and all amenities and activities of your liking are easily found.  This is why it is also a town filled with tourists coming and going, in awe of their surroundings and at first thinking 'I could stay here forever'.  But after a bit of time has come and gone and the people continue to barter with you day after day the realities of a tourist driven town begin to sink in.  I have discovered different routes through town, paths off the main street where I can attempt to walk in peace.  As much as I love to interact with the diverse people coming and going, some days it is simply too much. 

Still, I feel happy here, comfortable and grateful to be living and working among such a vibrant culture.  Nonetheless, the poverty and lingering remnants of 30-year civil war are present every day and unless you remind yourself of your purpose and that you are helping in way that is not directly dropping quetzales into the hands of the poor, it is easy to become discouraged and somewhat depressed.  So here I present to you a photo essay, filled with color, Guatemalan warmth, and a little bit of culture I have come to love, a reminder of the beauty in this world.  Coming not only from Panajachel, but from the surrounding towns - the less traveled roads - los pueblos desconocidos.  

Pictured below is a brief snapshot, as there is still so much to explore.  Although I will not venture too far from Lake Atitlan due to the amount of work ahead of me, there are twelve surrounding towns, nine of which I have yet to see.  
Young girls in the traditional blue traje of San Antonio Palapo

San Antonio Palopo, only the older men adorn the traditional traje as many boys in school are now teased at the idea of wearing a skirt

A view of San Antonio Palapo

Looking out a ceramics shop in San Antonio Palapo

Traditional male traje of San Antonio Palapo

A cabana, or indigenous hut, in San Antonio Palapo

Phosphorous detergents are part of the cause of cyanobacteria blooms in Lake Atitlan.  Although the government as deemed the washing of clothes in the lake 'prohibited' many women have no other option

A common fishing canoe in San Antonio Palapo

A view of Volcan Toliman (left), cerro de oro (middle), and Volcan San Pedro (right) from San Antonio Palapo

A machine used to combine colorful threads to make 'tejidos' as shown below

A tedious, yet incredible form of art

A common sight among Maya women and a reminder of home

It took guts to post this one... adorning the traditional traje of San Antonio Palapo

So many vibrant colors...

Another type of machine used to weave together thread

Maya woman in San Antonio Palapo; 'hecho de mano'

A common sight in all of Guatemala, taken in San Andres

Malaika and her new friend resting from selling trinkets in the streets of Chichicastenango

A small boy rests from cleaning shoes on the streets, unfortunately it is quite expensive for Guatemalan families to pay for their children to go to school and if they don't have enough money, many children, like this young boy, end up on the streets instead

A Maya woman praying on the steps of Santo Tomas, a 400 year old catholic church that also serves as a spot for Mayan rituals

Church in San Andres, empty instead after an earthquake caused its collapse
New friends and old spending the day in Chichicastenango-travel <3

Lucia of Chichicastenango

Another Maya woman praying on the steps of Santo Tomas, using 'copal', a type of incense that produces smoke that carries messages to the spirit world

Tropical flowers abundant in the market of Chichicastenango

The cemetery in Chichicastenango, providing a colorful afterlife for the deceased

A painting of the Maya Calendar by Juan Leon Cortez, Chichicastenango

Santo Tomas in Chichicastenango

Meat, an expensive commodity in the Guatemalan highlands... I'll stick to veggies

Ice cream vendors in Chichicastenango

A beautiful Maya woman in Chichicastenango

Market of Chichicastenango

Tortillas!!!  On every corner

Corn, the staple ingredient of Guatemala

Never a shortage of fabrics in the market of Chichicastenango

So... many... colors!

A view of Panajachel from San Jorge, a small pueblo where many Maya ceremonies are held

Remnants of a Maya ceremony, San Jorge

A view of Rio Quiscab from San Jorge

A cloudy day in Panajachel

A view of San Pedro from the halfway point of Volcan San Pedro (1900m)

A view of Lake Atitlan from the top of Volcan San Pedro at 3020 m

Volcan Toliman and Volcan Atitlan as seen from the top of San Pedro

Santiago de Atitlan, the largest pueblo around Lake Atitlan with a fishing community I am eager to explore!

Santiago de Atitlan and its hovering volcanoes

Proof of the climb :-)

Becky from Connecticut and I enjoying the view after a steep 3-hour hike to the top

Bartollo, our friendly guide for Volcan San Pedro- also a friend of Julian, the fisherman I was fortunate to meet before ascending the volcano.  Julian (not pictured) was as excited as I was to have met and I plan to head back very soon to interview the 'Asociacion de los Pescadores de San Pedro'!

Heading back down the volcano, taking in the clear views we were fortunate to have had

Corn... a staple ingredient in the Maya highlands - used for everything... especially the delicious tortillas 

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