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Published: April 14th 2012
Day 1 of our tour organised through Guatemalan Adventure. After a three hour flight from Houston we arrived to the Guatemala City airport. The airport is only 4 years old and not too busy, before we knew it we were heading to Antigua for 3 nights. We were very happy with our hotel when we arrived, it was well designed with courtyards, fountains and lovely areas to sit and relax.
Day 2 We met our guide Hugo in the morning to start our tour of the many cathedrals in the area. We were interested to see how they have started to restore a number of these beautiful buildings. Antigua is located in the central highlands of Guatemala and is famous for its well preserved Spanish influenced Baroque architecture as well as a number of spectacular ruins of colonial cathedrals. It is a very historical city and we were not surprised it has been designated a Unesco World Heritage Site. Our afternoon was spent walking around the city.
Day 3 in the morning Hugo took us out of the city to a coffee plantation where we also were also able to visit a cultural museum. After a lovely lunch back
in Antigua in a resturant with an upstairs terrace overlooking the ruins of a cathedral we continued our walking tour around Antigua. We were pleased to met couple of fellow Australians at our hotel and enjoyed their company for a delicious dinner in a local french influenced restaurant on our final night in Antigua.
Day 4 We left for our trip to Lake Atitlan. The lake is the deepest in Central America at around 340 Meters. The lake is surrounded by three volcanoes and many Mayan villages. Our for stop was at Iximche Mayan Ruins. While there Hugo heard some music in the distance and told us to follow. We came upon a small group of Mayans playing traditional instruments, burning offerings and praying. Hugo explained we were very lucky to witness this special event as it was not planned in the itinerary. Later in the day we visited Chichicastenangos market where the venders follow you around trying to sell their goods. Ron had an entourage of young lads following wanting to polish his shoes. After such a busy day we were looking forward to our hotel for the night, the Laguana Eco Lodge. The Lodge is only accessible
boat adding to the seclusion and peace of the place. First impression was wow, we had a room opening to the lake and enjoyed sitting on our patio with our welcome afternoon tea. All meals at the Lodge were vegetarian fitting with the Lodges policy of minimising impact on the environment.
Day 5 was spent touring the lake by boat in the morning. We crossed the lake to Santiago Atitlan home to the local Saint named Maximon or Ri Laj Mam, this Saint is visited by people asking for health and prosperity in their lives. We were amused to watch the ceremony as the Saint, a half body statue, is continually given cigarettes and alcohol by his minders. He is apparently a combination saint/devil and is one of the strongest remnants of the native philosophy in Santiago Atitlan. Although encouraged at first by the Catholic Church, Maximon was eventually persecuted and at one time made to go underground. Because of his great influence he was very much feared by the Church and, in order to deal with him, they represented him as Judas of Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus. Later that afternoon after a long drive back to Guatemala
City we were pleased to rest up before our early flight the next day to Tikal.
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