Guatemala Menu Main Menu What's New Best of this Site Radio History Clandestine Radio

A Recent Visit to Santiago Atitlan


I just finished reading with appreciation the article you wrote about Santiago Atitlan. This past August, I and eleven others spent 9 days in Guatemala, most of which was in Santiago. We were building small homes in the nearby village of Chachaya. While I was aware of the fighting and unrest in Guatemala in the 80's and early 90's, your detailed accounts, so personal and journal-like, were very insightful and helpful in understanding what these people had been through, not so long ago. I walked where you walked, saw the misty fog and the same fisherman, saw the same women washing there clothes on the shores of Atitlan, and saw kids shooting hoops in the same village center. (One of our kids even got into a one-on-one match at dusk one evening on a court where basketball and soccer were being played simultaneously.) Tensions you once experienced have pretty much vanished and the streets were festive each night-usually way past midnight. We were then awakened each morning around 4:00 am by a pair of motorized corn mashers that were powerfully loud and my last morning in Santiago I got a couple pictures of these high decibel alarm clocks.

You're more than welcome to use my remarks. The people I encountered had a refreshing combination of tenacity and contentment. What a few years of peace will do! They work so hard but laughed from the belly up. The dress you described in your article is still the uniform but younger kids wore ball caps and the Nike swoosh was no stranger to their atire. We sat around one evening exchanging conversation in Spanish, Tzutijil, and English nouns and as culturally different as we were, I felt like we were very much alike. Growing up around Ohio cornfields all my life, I was very much awed by their ability to grow corn (mazorka) almost vertical up the side of mountains and volcanoes. We could never get a combine to work hills like that!

I think the thing that impressed me most was the church there and when I speak of the church I speak of it as a whole though it had a multitude of denominational, evangelical, and of course Catholic expressions. They were pretty much "ON" 24/7 and especially in the evenings. The doors of each building were always cracked wide open, worship was joyful and vibrant, the preaching was passionate and uplifting, youth and very young couples were involved and seemed happy and enthused, and there seemed to be very genuine care being extended to one another. Outside of competing for the largest PA systems, there seemed to be a real openess between the people of different churches and perhaps that unity has flowed out of the persecution that they not so long ago, endured.

I also enjoyed the marketplace, good smells and bad smells, and became fond of those little red banannas which replentished me one day when I was cramping up from being dehydrated. (Altitude) Almost every marketeer could say, "You like? You buy! For you I make very good price!" Walmart was never so fun and of course the artisans were abundant and the creativity and craftsmanship were really awesome.

Lake Atitlan must indeed be one of most beautiful lakes in the world and on the trip from Panajachel, crossing south to Santiago, all three volcanoes visible, my eyes were fixed in front of me. And on the return trip several days later, they were fixed behind me. A day has not passed since I was there that I don't think of my experience and as I mentioned, your article walked me through those streets again.

Gracious Senor! Steve


This page is taken from two e-mails sent by Steven A. Bush. The text is placed here with his permission.


Main article on Santiago Atitlan and La Voz de Atitlan radio.

This website is maintained by Don Moore,
Association of North American Radio Clubs
DXer of the Year for 1995

My Address Is In This Graphic