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Immersion in Mayan Culture
Jaguars, banditos, and earthquakes, oh my!

Maximon presiding over a ceremonyMaximon presiding over a ceremony (Jeri Fritz)
Our delightful guide, Hugo, took us to the inner Chichicastenango market where the local Mayans were trading fresh produce. He identified the different Mayan groups based upon the patterns in their colorful woven costumes. The market has everything anyone might need, from toiletries to piles of chicken heads. Fortunately, Hugo greatly assisted in the bargaining process for us. With my limited Spanish, I barely could comprehend a few words and certainly not at rapid speaking pace. We left two stalls only to have the proprietors run down the street to find us, with not only a new price, but the object wrapped and ready to go. I happened on an antique carved wooden skeleton, both creepy and lovely. We were fortunate to witness a Mayan ritual on the steps of the Catholic church. A man swung a small bucket of incense over the fire and several Mayan priests walked through the crowd. Suddenly, I felt the earth undulate beneath my feet and others noticed a display of beaded jewelry swaying. Hugo informed us that earthquakes are common at the start of rainy season. What we felt was a 6.1 earthquake with an epicenter located 17 kilometers below Lake Atitlan.

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