There are 12 million people in Guatemala of which nearly half are of Maya descent. There are 21 Maya ethnic groups, Xinca, Garafuna, and Ladino. Positioned around the lake are 12 indigenous villages. Laguna Lodge Nature Reserve is situated in the municipal of the village of Santa Cruz La Laguna. The municipal has the village of Santa Cruz, the aldea of Tzununa and six caserios including Hibalito under its jurisdiction. The population is approximately 3,000 persons, mainly indigenous Maya Kaqchikel and few Ladino. The village is situated high up on a mountain slope approximately 100 meters higher than lake level and within walking distance from the hotel. Originally the village was in the valley below before flooding caused a move to higher ground. The village is one of the most isolated on the lake as there is no road access and it can only be reached by boat or foot. There is a small road from the main dock to the village used by two vehicles to carry supplies. Agriculture is the principal economic activity. Black beans, maize, and squash are grown for local consumption, while citrus, avocado, and coffee are mainly sold in Panajachel or Sololá.
Chickens are kept by some households. Fish and crab from the lake are caught by the local fishermen and the excess sold in the local market. There is a small cottage industry of weaving and sewing. Dry goods such as soap, rice, beans, snack foods and drinks are supplied by small shops or the front window of a home. Adobe is produced for construction. Most of the houses are made from adobe and have metal roofs with earthen floors while cement blocks are increasingly being used. The Maya Kaqchikel live on the northern side of the lake and speak Kaqchikel one of 21 Mayan languages. In the Mayan book of creation the Popul Vuh, the Kaqchikel lineage are called the Bat House, the bat motif is still seen in traje. The women of Santa Cruz wear traditional tops (huipiles) and long wrap around skirts (cortes) a shawl (perraje) and a headband (tzutes). As Santa Cruz is a poor community there clothing is simple in design. Most women weave their own huipiles and perrajes using the colors and designs of Santa Cruz. The huipiles are red and embroidered with geometric shapes on the back and a small collar of embroidery around the neck. The cortes are dark blue or black joined with a colorful seam. Inhabitants are poor, health services are minimal, and illiteracy is as high a 70%.
Traditional cultural identity is strong. The areas geographic location and the past political situation has allowed relatively slow modernization however western styles and ideas are being progressively incorporated by the younger generation. Due to Spanish colonialism Christianity was forced upon them. Religion plays a large part in the village with large followings in catholic, protestant and evangelical churches. Mayan traditional beliefs are immersed with the Christian belief system. On the plaza there is a colonial church built in the 16th Century, dedicated to Santa Helena of the Cross, the town’s patroness. Spanish is taught in schools and is the national language. Due to lack of schooling some indigenous do not speak Spanish and many only have a basic understanding of it. Boat services are owned by locals from Santa Cruz. Expatriates contribute to the village economy by providing employment in construction and within the Hotels and houses. Tourism is increasing and aid projects are growing with this exposure.
The lake area has been inhabited since 5,000 B.C. Agriculture began 1,200 B.C with slash and burn land clearing and planting of corn, squash and beans.
Over the course of 2,000 years the Maya founded cities and forged trade networks that extended as far as central Mexico and Cost Rica. The ruling elite made great strides in architecture, engineering, art, science, mathematics, the measuring of time, and astronomy. During the pre-classic period of 2000 B.C to 150 A.D Mayan centers rose in the highlands with Mexican Olmec influence.
In 1523 the Spanish conquest over ran the country, imposing Christianity and European customs. The Kaqchikel welcomed the Spaniards to their capital of Iximche and fought as their allies against the Tzutujiles of the southern side of Lake Atitlan. Demoralized by defeat and decimated by old world diseases the indigenous were soon subjects of the Spanish crown. The first steam boat on the lake arrived in 1880 and caused large deforestation.
In 1996 the civil war ended with the signing of a peace accord, ending 36 years of fighting. Economic and social reconstruction has progressed and elections are democratic.
Guatemala received 1.5 million visitors in 2006. Antigua is the first most visited tourist site, with Lake Atitlan second, and Tikal third.
Deluxe Suites - The Ceiba & Monja Blanca suites have a garden patio and the king bed in the centre of the room.
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