This week I spent time in Panajachel on beautiful lake Atitlán. This bustling town has long been a Mecca for backpackers and bohemian culture. It is also the main access point to Lake Atitlán, a large lake in the highlands surrounded by steep mountain sides and volcanoes. The twelve towns that dot the shore of the lake each have their own draws. I was able to visit San Juan la Laguna and Santiago Atitlán.
Like most of these towns one often arrives by boat and climbs the steep roads lined with shops full of local wares, eventually arriving at the town square and local church.
San Juan is well know for it’s textiles. The artisans there are well organized into cooperatives and any textiles you purchase will bare the name of the artisan who made it. I fell in love with the jaspe scarves. These scarves are made from cotton yarns that are all hand-dyed using a variety of plants and vegetables.
I also visited Santiago Atitlán which specializes in bead work and leather goods. The bead work was what I was most interested in. Locally called ‘mostacilla’, it is also referred to as loom beading or crochet beading. The work the artisans there do is truly beautiful.