Monday, April 12, 2010

Santiago Atitlan: The Unfinished Conquest

I started this blog a few months ago, by mentioning that some times it is not easy to describe Guatemala; now that our journey brought us to Santiago Atitlan, I have to tell you that we are precisely in one of those places that make Guatemala so complex, yet rich in traditions and customs.
Let me start by elaborating a little bit about why I chose the above title for this posting, the unfinished conquest. The history of this town is quite long and it is said that this is due to the energy emanating from Lake Atitlan and the three volcanoes, which have attracted human beings since millennial civilizations.
Along the evolution of the area and its population, it is known that there were important settlements with different influences.  It is also known that the ancient governors were so powerful that the Tz'utujil territory covered a large geographic extension, from Lake Atitlan to the Pacific Ocean (through what we know today as the Departments of Suchitepequez and Retalhuleu).
During the colonial times the Tz'utujiles and the remains of their civilization, stayed in what we know today as Santiago Atitlan, a place where despite the Catholicism and recently other religion influences, the Mayan spirituality and religiousness prevail, probably, stronger than ever before and the major expression is the preservation of the annual cycle of rituals -where the traditional ceremonies are related with the planets alignment, designed to help them to maintain their own path and the celestial order.
Locals say that originally they accepted the protection of the Catholic church as the only resource they had to survive and even though they appeared to embrace the new religion, they managed to integrate the figure of Ri Laj Mam (the Tz'utujiles Grand Father) into the new cult. 
Some people say that the current name Maximon, is the indigenous pronunciation of San Simon; there are those who say that Maximon is a combination of Saint Peter, Judas Iscariot, and Pedro de Alvarado; some others say that actually "maximon" is a Tz'utujil voice that translates as "the one, who is tied", and of course, there is a story explaining the origin of such name, but that story my friends as well as the description of an important event that occurs every Good Friday only in Santiago Atitlan, will have to wait until tomorrow.


  1. hi my friend!!! you have a very very nice blog.

    I am from Greece. i have a blog also

    the url above is my blog. Please visit me!!!
    Thank you my friend!! thank you so much. Your visit is too important for me!!!!
    Thank you again

  2. I am considering doing a 6 month house sit on the shores of this lake. Thank you for this blog.


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