The raised tombs in the cemetery colour the town even brighter than the coloured facades of homes and businesses. The wealthier families purchase plots with gates and sanctuary areas, while the poorer families mark the graves of their deceased with a simple cross; but no matter the tomb, they are all adorned with offerings of flowers, food, and decorations in remembrance. Families pay their respects throughout the year including Mother’s Day, All Saint’s Day (pictured here), and the anniversary of their passings. Many believe the spirits of their ancestors continue to protect them after death, hence the offerings and paying of respects.
Given the population expansion and disparity in land ownership, most of the land people have been able to attain is several miles away from the town on the edge of the volcanoes. In addition to traveling this distance to care for their land, they must also carry their harvest on their backs down the trail along the volcano to San Lucas, pictured in the distance. Here you can see typical Mayan farming techniques with corn planted in raised rows, with beans growing up the stalks, each drawing nutrients and support from the other. San Lucas and the lake sit in the valley in the distance.
Early each morning the women take the corn, which has soaked all night in a limestone and water mixture, to the mill to be ground to make tortillas. In the mornings, the town is filled with the hum of the mills and the clapping hands of women making tortillas.
An older couple worships on a wooden pew in a church. Many attend mass daily, thanking, asking, grieving, and generally cultivating their relationship with God. The church also provides the opportunity to socialize and for the community to gather and the atmosphere inside is often peaceful, with a cool breeze, quietness, and handsome decorations of flowers and cloth curtains.
Outside the parish church, there is also the opportunity for socializing and seeking peace in the courtyard, the shade of the church walls, or in the surrounding floral and rock gardens. This area is intended to inspire tranquility and prepare people for entering the church, and as such, is free of vendors and neatly maintained.
Years of hard work wear on the body in uncountable ways. Poverty requires that all needs are arranged in priority order and sometimes, shoes do not make the cut.
The market is a main source of food and income for many people in town. The central market takes over several streets on market days (Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday) and provides a place to exchange and socialize as well. Here a woman weighs tomatoes for sale.
The typical Mayan home is small and revolves around the necessities, often just one room with a stove or area for a cooking fire, the store of firewood, and a bed. While the majority of men in San Lucas dress in modern fashion, many of the women have maintained their traditional dress, which they often weave themselves. Pictured here, community elders are often the bearers of wisdom and cultural knowledge.
Early morning light filters over the hills, first illuminating Atitlán and Tolimán volcanoes then slowly spreading across the town of San Lucas and the lake.
An indigenous girl peeks out between the boards of her home.
Neatly dressed, with collared shirt tucked in and belted, and the typical sombrero hat, a Guatemalan man rises early to start the day’s work. Here, a man carries a weaved mat often used for kneeling or beds.
Evening haze and fog roll through San Lucas, even in the dry season. Those who are out at this time – late afternoon and early evening – carry the day’s purchases, things to bring to family member’s homes, or just go out for a stroll.
San Lucas sits at the foothills of the volcanoes Atitlán and Tolimán, second from back. A chain of impressive mountains stretches through all of Guatemala, providing a beautiful backdrop to a town rich in culture and history, but continually struggling through the process of poverty. To support the community, please contribute online.