Meeting A Mayan Pop

Manuel Pop Garcia

The launch left Panajachel early on a misty morning for the short journey across Lago Atitlán, Guatemala's version of Lake Tahoe. Our destination was the largest of the lake communities, Santiago Atitlán.


Nestled between the Vulcan Tolimán and Vulcan San Pedro, the ancient pueblo of Santiago Atitlán was founded by Franciscan friars in 1547. Many atitecos (as they call themselves) proudly adhere to a traditional Tz'utujil Maya lifestyle. Women wear purple-striped skirts and huipiles embroidered with colored birds and flowers, while older men still wear lavender or maroon striped embroidered pants.


Santiago is is town is not a touristy and that was one of the main attractions for me. Unlike Panajachel the streets were not lined by vendors hawking the usual tourist goods. The vendors in Santiago Atitilan sell arts and crafts made by local artists.


It was while wandering the market on a Saturday that I came across this gentlemen, Manuel Pop Garcia. He was seated on a bench in the shade of a veranda, watching the busy market. I asked to sit down and we started a conversation. I learned he was 83 years old and had seen many things in this sleepy little town, including the massacre of 14 unarmed citizens by the Guatemalan army in December of 1990.

I asked permission to take his photo and he agreed.

Shot with a Nikon D 300 with a 50 mm Nikon f 1.8 lens, Aperture of f 8.0, 1/125th of a second, ISO 250. I took a 12 image burst and this was the keeper.

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About the author. JS Engelbrecht cut his teeth in photography in the fashion industry before turning his attention to Nature. "I moved from shooting pictures of beautiful jewelry to shooting pictures of natural beauty."

Now JS Engelbrecht enjoys capturing beautiful scenes during his travels. He is also a gifted teacher and guide for local photographers. Click here to see his fine are gallery.

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