Fourteen years and one civil war have passed since our first visit to Guatemala.
Antigua is still one of the most beautiful towns in all of Latin America. Its magnificent volcano-ringed setting transforms even the most hapless of snapshots into one with National Geographic possibilities. McDonalds and tuk-tuks may have invaded the town but its earthquake-tossed colonial heart remains unscathed. Chichicastenango and the Highlands - the most traditional regions of the country - are still struggling to move forward while clutching the past. And Lake Atitlan. Ah, Lake Atitlan - where you could lose your entire vacation and not even care.
Guatemala's natural beauty continues to astonish. Its indigenous culture survives despite the inevitable encroachment of the 21st century. But in our minds, it will always be the most fascinating and diverse country in Central America.
Date(s): August 2008. Album by David Kohl. Photos by David Kohl & Ross Rosenberg. 1 - 40 of 40 Total. 297 Visits.
Arco de Santa Catalina A landmark in the city of Antigua. The arch allowed nuns to cross from one side of the street to the other without being seen. This arch was reconstructed in the 19th century; the original 1613 structure was destroyed in 1773.
Antigua Antigua street scene with a view of Agua Volcano. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is at an elevation of approximately 5,000 feet.
Antigua A view of the front of the Cathedral de Santiago (facing the Parque Central) and Agua Volcano - taken from the second floor of the Palacio del Ayuntamiento.
Cathedral detail The first cathedral on this site was built in 1545 but was destroyed in the earthquake of 1583.
Cathedral The Spanish insisted that a new cathedral be constructed that was even larger than the original.
Cathedral For eleven years, the Maya were conscripted to build one of the largest cathedrals in Central America.
Cathedral The new cathedral had five naves, eighteen chapels and an altar decorated with in-laid mother-of-pearl and silver.
Cathedral The new cathedral withstood the earthquakes of 1689 and 1717. But its weakened walls were defenseless against the devastating earthquake of 1773.
View of Agua Volcano Antigua had been the original capital of Guatemala. But because of the numerous earthquakes, the capital was moved to Guatemala City.
Parque Central Fountain This fountain dating from 1936 is a recreation of an earlier version constructed in 1738. The original was destroyed in an earthquake.
Fountain detail The fountain is known as the Fuente de las Sirenas (Fountain of the Mermaids).
Cerro de la Cruz A view from Cerro de La Cruz (Hill of the Cross). The view across the city - with Agua Volcano as a backdrop - is one of the best in town.
Fuente de Peces, Convento de Nuestra La Merced This fountain, in the shape of water lily, is said to the largest in Latin America. The pools were once used for breeding fish.
Convento de las Capuchinas The convent was built in 1736 but abandoned after the earthquake of 1773. It was later restored in the 1940s. The Capuchin order was known as the most rigorous in Antigua. The nuns slept on wooden beds with straw pillows. They were not allowed any contact with the outside world.
Me & Maximon, Quinta de las Flores Maximon is part Mayan god, part Catholic saint, part Judas and part Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado. Nevertheless, he is thought to be more evil than good. To stay on his good side believers bring offerings of drink (beer, rum, etc.) or smoke (cigars) to appease him. This is only a replica of Maximon. We saw the real Maximon at a house in Santiago Atitlan. Quinta de las Flores.
Floral display at Restaurante Las Palmas Las Palmas - a beautiful Antigua restaurant.
View across the central square in Chichicastenango Although the tourist market only operates on Thursday and Sunday, the stall fixtures remain standing all week. The local market is active in many of the stalls every day.
Produce market at Chichi A view from the second floor of the produce market.
David, Rosa and Ross Rosa, a friend of a friend, with her two gringo giants.
Cementerio at Chichi The colorful cemetery at Chichi.
Chilling Interior of the room at the Posada El Arco in Chichi. The colorful bedspread is typical of the weavings in the highlands. The man lying on top is not.
Dance practice in Chichi These men are practicing for a dance competition. The practice began at 5:00 in the morning. It was to last all day.
Wives wait as the husbands dance The women (wives, mothers and daughters) watch the rehearsal from the sidelines.
Rainbow over Nebaj The village of Nebaj – one of the three towns (Cotzal and Chajul, the others) comprising the Ixil Triangle – is nestled in the heart of the Cuchumatanes mountains.
Church at the central square in Nebaj Nebaj is situated at about 6,500 feet above sea level and has a population of about 27,000. Nebaj and other nearby villages in the area suffered many losses during Guatemala’s civil war.
Women of Nebaj Two Nebaj women wearing the characteristic Nebaj headress were photographed as they cross the town's main plaza.
Nebaj headress The most spectacular part of the dress of the local women is the long, woven head cloth. The 10 foot-long head cloth is first wrapped around the hair and then the head.
Nebaj headress This woman demonstrates how the head cloth is worn. She and her daughter had a stall in the Nebaj artisan’s market.
Nebaj headress The wrapping culminates in a distinctive bouquet of “pom-pom”-like tassles that cascade off the back of the head.
View from Hacienda Mil Amores View from our cabin across the dairy farm (specializing in producing Swiss cheese) at Hacienda Mil Amores in Acul. This town was a 4 1/2 hour walk from Nebaj.
Cabins at Hacienda Mil Amores Two of the four cabins at Hacienda Mil Amores in Acul. The hacienda is owned by members of the Azari family. Meals are served family-style at the main house.
View of San Pedro Volcano View of San Pedro Volcano across the pool at Posada de Santigao and across the arm of Lake Atitlan.
Interior Room view at Posada de Santiago The interior of our room at Posada de Santiago: two queen-sized beds, a bath- room with a spigot for purified water, a fireplace and sofa that could also be used as another bed.
Boat in Lake Atitlan A local fisherman in traditional dress fishing in a hand-carved wooden boat.
Street scene in Santiago Atitlan The women of this town still wear traditional dress; the men do not. This is typical of most of the towns around the lake.
Laundry day in Santiago Atitlan women washing clothes in the arm of the lake near Santiago Atitlan. This town of approximately 48,000 inhabitants was the site of great heartache in 1990. Soldiers fired on a crowd killing 11(some children) and injuring over 40. The incident caused international outrage. As a result, the army was removed from the town and - to this day – has not set foot back in Santiago Atitlan.
View of Cerro de Oro We traveled by van from Santiago Atitlan to Panajachel. Most of the roads around the lake are safe to travel but we were warned that the road between Santiago Atitlan and San Pedro was dangerous. Numerous armed robberies still occur.
Lake Atitlan View “Lake Como, it seems to me, touches the limit of the permissibly picturesque; but Atitlan is Como with the additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes.” - Aldous Huxley, “Beyond the Mexique Bay” (1934)