Thursday, November 10, 2016

Xela: Our Lady of the Rosary, Laguna Chicabal and the oldest church in Central America



Since my last blog I've been traveling with friends but I'm going to blog in sequence and try not skip anything...so this actually ties into my trip to Xela and Tajumulco a couple weeks ago.


This is Xela, the second biggest city in Guatemala and my absolute favorite.  Also known as Quetzeltenango, I've only been here twice but if I was going to live in Guate permanently...this would be my city!


The day after our major hike, we headed out to see the purportedly oldest church in central america in San Andres Xecul.  Since the buses don't run to this tiny town on Sundays, we lucked out and found a bored taxi driver who very cheaply brought us on the hour long trip.  We were only able to see the colorful facade because unfortunately and kinda strangely, the church itself was closed on a Sunday.  But I'm glad we went all the same!



We came back in time to take in the procession for Our Lady of the Rosary's feast day.  It is her 800th year anniversary and the people, as is tradition, covered the streets with elaborate and beautiful alfombras made of flowers and colored sawdust.


The next morning we rose early to start another hike.  This time it was to Laguna Chicabal, a crater lake at the top of another (inactive) volcano.  


We started around 7am and hiked as the sun rose.


We could see surrounding volcanoes as we climbed.


The low mound on the bottom right is an active volcano and although the picture doesn't show it very clearly, we could see smoke rising from the top.



The hike was a combination of straight up and then straight down.


But at least we made friends along the way.


Laguna Chicabal is also a Mayan religious site.  The people, like on Tajumulco, carry flowers. Then they pray at the edge of the water.  We didn't see it happen but somehow the flowers end up on stands in the lake.


This is from one of the prayer sites.  Not sure why but there were crosses marking most of the altars.


The flowers were beautiful!


And eery...especially the ones that sit under the clear water.


Because we arrived so early we were practically alone on the lake, watching the mist rise and taking in the peace and quiet in the early morning sun with only the birds and stray dogs.  It felt mystical and very special.


The overlook.


The underlook.

I love Guatemala!

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