National Geographic : 1947 Oct
(E)national ueograpllc Society iLoacllronle oy iuiS M aruen Cofrades of San Antonio Palop6 Pose with Their Patron Saint's Ikon These members of a religious brotherhood (page 540) appear against the backdrop of early-morning Lake Atitlan. The hill behind head of the man at left is the Cerro de Oro; beyond rises San Pedro Volcano. there are more than twelve, if you count those which are near though not on the lake. Only four bear names of the original Twelve, but it is still a good story. One day I talked with Padre Antonio Far fan, a priest from SololA, just north of the lake, who makes the round of lake villages regularly in a motor launch. He said: "Don't let the smooth look of the lake deceive you. I have seen waves twelve feet high when opposing winds meet to form the chocomnil wind on the lake." For this reason, natives usually cross the lake in early morning or late afternoon. Indians' Two-way Religion I asked about the Indians' religious beliefs. "It is true," said Padre Antonio, "that our Indians secretly pay homage to their idols, burning copal incense and pouring libations of ardent water. They pray to their supreme native deity, Nim Ajau, God World. He is all-pervading, everywhere, and he brings good crops and keeps a man from evil." "But the Indians nominally are Christians, and observe Catholic feast days, don't they?" "Yes," smiled the padre. "They want to be on good terms with God, and on not-too-bad terms with the Devil. "Every village has its witch doctor who preys on the superstition of his people," the padre continued. "He pretends to deliver them from the evil designs of Ajau Juyf, the Lord of the Forest." Near the lake I saw caves where smoke blackened idols and wooden crosses showed that worshipers took no chances with their prayers. Some time later I met Padre Antonio in Guatemala City and took him for his first airplane ride. At 6,000 feet I looked back to see how he was taking it. He was staring at the clouds through the cabin window, and I saw his lips form the words, "Hello, Peter!" In a motor launch we visited some lake villages. At Santiago Atitlhn I saw again the brilliant red wrap-around skirts and long ribbon headdresses that make up my favorite Guatemalan woman's costume. In Santiago live the Tzutuhiles, the tribe that resisted most fiercely the Spanish conquerors (pages 526, 527, 542-545).