Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Magic, Mystery & Mythology

The view from Pasajcap over Lake Atitlan, New Year's Day, 2019

One could look out over the sparkling waters of Lake Atitlán until the end of Time and never have one's fill. set in a landscape that is unimaginably scenic, this magical lake exudes a deeply resonant energy and enchants most of those fortunate enough to experience it.

After a tumultuous history of evolution, the southern and western sides are now protected by three imposing volcanoes – Atitlán, Tolimán, and San Pedro. Lake Atitlán is also a very deep lake. At over 1,100 feet, its most profound depths have never been sounded, giving its waters their unique cobalt-blue/green colour and adding to the lake's mysteriously magical beauty. Not surprisingly, Lake Atitlán is considered to be a sacred site in Maya mythology. 'Atitlan' is understood to be a Mayan word meaning 'where the rainbow gets its colors.' This majestic composite landscape of volcanoes, mountains, lake and sky enriches body, mind, spirit, and soul.

A lancha departing Paxanax, near Santa Cruz

On a sun-drenched morning in the November to April dry season, the aquamarine waters sparkle and shimmer as motorboats, or *lanchas*, ply their way between towns and villages, stopping off to pick up and deliver at residential docks along the way. After noon the Xocomil wind from the south marches speedily across the water, disturbing the calm and agitating the liquid surface into an undulating quiver. The air is breezy yet balmy.

During the May to October wet season, the scene is markedly different as the rains - sometimes heavy, even relentless - stream, pour and teem down and visibility is poor. The distant clear vistas of *el verano* recede from view, hidden in memory. Vegetation becomes vibrantly verdant on the fully forested slopes of the volcanoes, on semi-tropical trees, grasses and shrubs, and in the steep cleared farm fields of the mountainsides spilling into the lake.

At night, the lights of the twelve towns and villages that ring the lake sparkle under the moon and panoply of stars, the volcanoes silhouetting the horizon against the nocturnal sky. In the distance Fuego spits out fire from its cone, reminding us all - as if we needed it - that we are still very much alive. Quiet descends except at festive times when fireworks are unleashed. A zealous and proud population slumbers ahead of another striking sunrise.

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