The day started with roosters crowing long before the sun rose. A lovely breakfast outside before boarding a small covered boat to cross Lake Atitlan to the small village of San Juan del Lago. Suddenly, ahead and to the south, we saw the ash cloud of an erupting volcano rising high into the sky! It was Volcano Santiaguito erupting, sending a plume of ash 5 km high. We stopped the boat in the middle of the lake and watched it, stunned. The plume was beautiful in the blue sky but we all worried about the people who lived close to the volcano. Fortunately, it turned out there were no injuries reported.
There were more fireworks as we arrived at the village of San Juan del Lago. The people there were celebrating the festival of Santo Juan Bautista. Fireworks and explosions rang through the air every few seconds, ushering in the procession. We found ourselves right in the middle of masked dancers, the village brass band, men, women, and children in tradition dress. They represented Cofradia (a religious society) of Saint John the Baptist.
We stepped into a weaving cooperative to learn about how the textiles are woven. The women there taught us about all the natural dyes they use and showed us the blackstrap loom in action.
A local restaurant welcomed us to lunch with refreshing hibiscus drinks for all. Our gracious hostess served us Pepian, the national dish of Guatemala while we enjoyed a lovely view of the lake.
Back on the boat to Santiago Atitlan, another village on the lake to Maximon. It would have been a significant hike up to the top of the hill, so we all piled into the back of a pickup truck for a thrilling ride through the very narrow streets. We found Maximon smoking a cigar, looking like a gangster in his ten ties and surrounded by his secret society of men. We were all a little speechless looking in on him, trying to fully comprehend his significance to the community.
Another wild ride down in the back of the pickup truck brought us to the local market. While bartering for huipils and clothing with Santiago embroidery, two of the owners of a market stall offered to “Mayanize” two of our Go Learners. We watched with great amusement as they were clothed and wrapped in a huipil, skirt, shirt, pants, and sashes. The final results were beautiful and impressive!
A sunset boat ride home after a wonderful day.