"Santiago Atitlán and the rum-loving saint" Top 5 Page for this destination Santiago Atitlán by acemj

Santiago Atitlán Travel Guide: 37 reviews and 127 photos

Santiago Atitlán is a small town on the southern shore of Lake Atitlán. It is the capital of the Tzutujil Maya Nation and the local population is 95% made up of people of Mayan descent. Traditional attire is on full display here and the locals, called Atitecos, believe that wearing this beautiful clothing puts them in the form of their ancestors, something they consider of vital importance. Throw in the fact that the town has a beautiful location on the shores of one of the world's most beautiful lakes and you have all the reason you would ever need to visit a place. However, none of that is why I came.

My whole reason for visiting was to see the unusual and revered local saint, Maximón. There are many theories as to his origin, but over time he has evolved into some sort of blend between Mayan and Catholic deity and is considered sacred and to be taken seriously despite his bizarre appearance to most visitors. He can actually be found in many Guatemalan towns including Nahualá and San Jorge La Laguna, but he is especially famed in Zunil, San Andrés Itzapa and right here in Santiago Atitlán.

We spent most of our time here searching for Maximón and once we found him we gave him the traditional offering of a cigarette (we didn't have a good cigar, which he prefers) and were sure to tip the guys guarding him and to treat the whole experience as if it were a very serious pilgrimmage! As bizarre as all of this sounds, it was undeniably intriguing and a great exercise in respecting local traditions. The only greater respect I could have paid to this famous saint would have been to bring him a good cigar and maybe a bottle of his favorite rum.

  • Last visit to Santiago Atitlán: Mar 2005
  • Intro Updated Jul 12, 2005
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Reviews (8)

Comments (8)

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Sep 4, 2010 at 11:24 AM

    Doing more research for our forthcoming trip. Thanks for the informative page. I'm looking forward to visiting Maximón ;-)

  • sachara's Profile Photo
    Mar 11, 2006 at 2:30 PM

    Nice to read your page. I visited also some places around the lake Atitlan by boat.

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo
    Feb 4, 2006 at 3:55 AM

    It's good to hear you found not only the famous saint but also some change to buy your lunch, amigo. ;)

  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo
    Jan 8, 2006 at 4:56 AM

    Great page! I have to go there to find my own Maximón and maybe for shopping haha. Indeed, the more off the beaten path you get, the better the prices.

  • globetrott's Profile Photo
    Jul 30, 2005 at 7:36 AM

    When Holy Maximón is consuming cigarettes, alcohol etc. I am sure it makes a good excuse for the locals to follow his excample...

  • ATXtraveler's Profile Photo
    Jul 18, 2005 at 4:59 AM

    Great page yet again... no clue how you keep doing it!!

  • DaDrifter's Profile Photo
    Jul 16, 2005 at 11:54 AM

    Interesting to read about this unusual place ... very intriguing story about the local saint.

  • b1bob's Profile Photo
    Jul 14, 2005 at 6:34 PM

    Nice job! I love places where you can haggle and bring down the prices.


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