Take a motor launch across the lake to Santiago de Atitlán. Cruising over the calm and silent morning waters, you’ll have wonderful views of the various shoreline hamlets and pocket-sized cultivated fields alongside some grand houses, and beyond to the gently sloping bottle-green volcanoes that encircle the water. You are greeted as you alight at Santiago by enthusiastic children, and the town is an excellent place to buy brilliantly coloured textiles.
The children may also offer to guide you to the current resting place of the smoking, drinking, be-hatted and roguish local idol, Maximón, who is moved to a different house each year, and looked after by a diligent entourage. He’s certainly not politically correct but he will help you with your problems in exchange for a suitable financial donation.
After time at leisure to explore, bargain with the traders and admire the costumes you will again be transported by boat to another village, San Antonio Palopó, about 10km from Panajachel. It lies in a natural amphitheatre formed by the mountains behind it. Ascending the hill from the dock, you reach the village consisting of narrow streets of adobe houses with roofs of thatch or corrugated tin, and a fine 16th century church. The village inhabitants are known for their colourful costumes and headdresses.