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This pretty market town is a typical example of a Guatemalan highland town. Situated in a lush valley and overlooked by a huge volcano, Zunil is ideal for those who want to experience an agricultural community steeped in indigenous culture. As you travel to Zunil from Quetzaltenango you are met with a picturesque scene of low red-tiled and rusted tin roofs surrounding a gleaming white colonial church, Iglesia Santa Catarina. The church itself is certainly worth a visit. The ornate façade, serpent like columns and an intricate altar of silver are beautiful examples of the importance that churches have historically held in Guatemala. The town also has its own effigy to San Simón, or Maximón. Images of this non-Christian deity are highly regarded throughout Guatemala. Zunil’s Maximon moves from house to house every year after the October 28th festival held in his honor. You will have to enquire with a local to find out where he is. Children from the village will take you to him for a small fee and you also pay the caretakers to see him, and a few cents per photograph. Unlike the Santiago Atitlán version, visitors to this Maximón can actually pour Quetzalteca down the effigy’s throat. Another worthwhile visit is to the Cooperativa Santa Ana. More than 500 local women work with the co-operative. At their base located just a short walk from the church, visitors can see them work, buy their elaborate textile wares and even take a weaving lesson themselves. Public buses from Xela and Fuentes Georginas frequently pass by the village which is situated just 10km from Quetzaltenango. Accommodation options are quite limited but there is a fantastic eco lodge within easy reach of the town. Built on natural steam vents, the rooms feature their own fireplace, sauna and Jacuzzi. If it is some laid back relaxation that you are after, Zunil is certainly an option.

Other neighborhoods in Quetzaltenango : Xela, Cantel, Los Vahos, San Francisco El Alto, Zona 3 Quetzaltenango, El Palmar Viejo, Fuentes Georginas, Las Cumbres, Almolonga and Laguna Chicabal.

02 Aug 2010

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