This is the place for photos and reflections of my visits to Latin America beginning in 2012. Previous blogs are linked on the main pages of my photo collections on flickr. HAPPY TRAILS!

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Hi, all!

I have visited Santiago Atitlán, 35 minutes from San Pedro by boat, 4 or 5 times over the years but it was a 1st visit for Mike. Santiago is a largish town with an interesting cultural history. 

One goal I had was simply for Mike to see the traditional huipiles (women's blouses) of Santiago - usually light blue or fabric with stripes and lots of embroidery, especially birds. We were not disappointed on that count - the streets are lined with both wearers and venders.

Another goal was to try and find the guide who pops up at the dock every time I visit; sometimes I make prints of previous visits and give them to him. We didn't see him as we headed off the dock so arranged with another nice man named Miguel to take us to see special places in the church and visit Maximón - more on that later. We followed Miguel up the street and through the packed market area. 

Mike got stuck in a passageway which reminded us of the packed crowds in the Let 'Er Buck Room at the Pendleton (Oregon) Round Up, except these were Maya people, Mike was the tallest guy in the room, and no one was drunk.

Released from the market, we headed into the church, pictured below from an earlier trip since I didn't take 1 this time. The man pictured in death (left) and life is Stanley Rother, an American priest who served and advocated for the local indigenous people during Guatemala's genocide period; he was assassinated by the military in 1981. 

His body was returned to Oklahoma but his heart is in the church; there is a seldom seen room where he was killed that has been made into a small museum with features some of his things and his important story.

The huge, beautiful wooden altar in the main sanctuary was covered with a wood and twine grid in preparation for adding fruit decorations for Semana Santa. We left the church through several decorated areas and headed out to see Maximón, the patron saint of alcohol, tobacco, and other vices.

Enroute we ran into my old guide so we posed for this picture. 

Maximón is a represented by a wooden figure wearing scarves and a cowboy hat; often there is a lit cigar or cigarette in his mouth. The figure is moved every year to the home of a different follower where people can visit and give money, alcohol, and smokes, so every time I visit the location and the setting are different. This year we were visiting on his special day so he was laid out for viewers in the Municipal building. A packed crowd gathered to peer in and take turns viewing him.

We then said goodbye to Miguel

and found a coffee shop for Mike. I headed out to find my birthday present - a 2-headed jaguar bench. I found exactly what I was looking for in a packed, family-run store and had them remove the legs for easier transport.

We had time for a little people watching in the central area before the final event of day, the festive transfer of Maximón from the Municipal building to a site near the church. These kids were using the giant pods that hold fragrant seeds used in Semana Santa decorations for sleds.

This is the traditional women's head wrap of Santiago - meters of red woven ribbon.

And, in Santiago as on Saturday Night Live and in life, you can always use 'more cowbell'.  

Here are a few photos of the procession.

We headed back to the dock and took the next boat back to San Pedro. There's our Ti Wachooch - mostly with big eyes from this direction.

On the walk home from the dock we saw this Maximón on a high wall

then another the following day on the other side of town

and another in San Juan, a neighboring village, a day later. Popular guy.

And now I'm proud to present, the 2-headed jaguar bench of Ti Wachooch, as yet unnamed.

You can find the complete photo collections for this trip HERE.

Happy trails!

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