Lake Atitlan has it all for those of us who love water, boat rides, stunning natural scenery, small towns, slow living and tropical weather.
We had a fantastic week exploring, soaking up all that the tropical shores of Lago de Atitlan and its charming and unique pueblos (towns) have to offer, meeting with our future artisan partners and learning first hand the sophisticated techniques that will be used to create our products and collections.
We arrived in Panajachel, aka Pana, the main town on the lake and hopped onto a water taxi, the lake's main transportation method, to get to our home and office for the week. We stayed in Maya Moon Lodge in Tz'ununa, the Lake's smallest town, named after the hummingbirds, or Tz'unun in Kaqchiquel language, that frequent its shores.
Lake Atitlan is located in the Highlands of Guatemala and is home to mostly Mayan indigenous people belonging to the Tz'utujil and Kaqchiquel groups. Though located just a few kilometres apart and sharing the same lakeshore, these two groups have distinct languages and customs.
A slow pace of living is the norm here. Strolling through towns you see the women and men dressed in their traditional outfits, on the lake you will often catch men fishing in rustic wooden canoes, and if you get a glimpse inside a home, you can see the Mayan weaving tradition in action.
Besides immersing ourselves into the pace of life here, we got to experience the weaving culture first hand and meet some of our artisan partners on our home visits with our partner organization Maya Traditions.
We visited San Juan La Laguna, a town on the southern shore of the lake, and Chuacruz, a town up in the highlands, where we learnt the intricate processes of natural plant-based dyeing, raw cotton spinning, and back-strap weaving. To say this is an intricate art is an understatement, yet our artisan partners do it with such masterful ease that they make it look easy!
The rest of the week was spent exploring the other lakeside towns, visiting the busy town markets, and meeting with our partner organizations and co-operatives to view textile samples, colours, and designs!
All-in-all the week was outstanding, but by far our favourite moments were spent meeting and getting to know some of the artisans we will be working with, and learning from them their craft.
LAKE ATITLAN FAVOURITES
TOWNS TO SEE - SEE THEM ALL!
SAN JUAN LA LAGUNA: Our personal favourite! San Juan is a beautiful, colourful town full of local artists and artisans specializing in natural textile dyes and paintings.
SAN PEDRO LA LAGUNA: Lots of restaurant options and nightlife.
SAN MARCOS LA LAGUNA: Hippie town full of yoga studios, natural healing sanctuaries and tasty organic food.
SANTIAGO: The biggest town on the lake. Santiago and its residents are preserving the local Tz'utujil indigenous culture and identity.
PANAJACHEL: A great place to begin and end your adventures on the lake as it's the local transportation hub. It is also a great place to buy souvenirs and artisanal products. Be sure to check out the great coffee shops along the main street.
ARTISAN CO-OPERATIVES IN SAN JUAN LA LAGUNA
PANAJACHEL TEXTILE MARKET - TUESDAY AND FRIDAY
TOUR TO CHICHICASTENANGO MARKET - THE LARGEST IN CENTRAL AMERICA! - THURSDAYS AND SUNDAYS
Planning a trip to Lake Atitlan? Drop us a comment below if you have any questions or would like recommendations!