Tag Archives: Lake Atitlan

The Magic of Santiago on Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

The Magic of Santiago on Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Wandering through villages around Lake Atitlán is a spiritual respite from the mundane. I didn’t get to choose when I came into this earth nor will I choose when to leave but in between, I get to choose. Spending time with people who are actually living on next to nothing but are happy, is a breath of fresh air. Traveling in Guatemala is a privilege I savor; exploring beauty in every form.

Mother & child en route to Santiago on Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Mother & child en route to Santiago on Lake Atitlán, Guatemala


Mother & child - Santiago, Lake Atitlan

Mother & child – Santiago, Lake Atitlán

Santiago, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Santiago, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Four children - Santiago, Lake Atitlan

Four children – Santiago, Lake Atitlán

Self portrait - Santiago, Lake Atitán, Guatemala

Self portrait – Santiago, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Woman @ Santiago, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Woman @ Santiago, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Preparing tortillas-Santiago, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Preparing tortillas-Santiago, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Santiago, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Santiago, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Children inside Iglesia Parroquial Santiago Apostol

Children inside Iglesia Parroquial Santiago Apostol

Santiago, Atitlán

Santiago, Atitlán

Three young boys, Santiago, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Three young boys, Santiago, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Children, Santiago, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Children, Santiago, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Hannah_Kozak_Guatemala_2014_0204

Self portrait, Santa Cruz, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Self portrait, Santa Cruz, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Who's your mom?

Who’s your mom?

Mother & child, Santa Cruz, Lake Atitlån, Guatemala

Mother & child, Santa Cruz, Lake Atitlån, Guatemala

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Hannah_Kozak_Guatemala_2014_0228

Aldous Huxley said Lake Atitlán was the most beautiful lake in the world. I agree!

Aldous Huxley said Lake Atitlán was the most beautiful lake in the world. I agree!

The Magic of Santiago on Lake Atitlán, Guatemala


Return to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Returning to Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan, the womb of Guatemala is one of the prettiest places on earth. The sun and breeze dance on the water. Three volcanoes surround the lake like silent, but dominant bodyguards. Out of these primordial waters the Maya world was delivered. The Mayans are proud but friendly people who greet me with a buenos dias and real smiles. The lake is calm in the mornings – the volcanic peaks evident in every breathtaking direction.

Lake Atitlan is believed to be formed by a series of three violent large eruptions that blew the lid off the top of a super volcanic mountain, which was possibly the biggest Guatemalan volcanic eruption, and perhaps American in a million years. The first was 14 million years ago. The second was one million years ago and the third was 85 thousand years ago. The lake seems to go on for an eternity though it’s only 12 feet long and five miles wide with depths of one thousand two hundred feet.

Laguna Lodge is a quiet retreat, a private slice of heaven with volcanic stone and adobe in the suites. There are perfectly built stone walks overlooking the lake and volcanoes.The reserve trails begin at the back of the building. Rock steps begin on the third floor-the start of one hundred acres to climb. The organic food is exclusively vegetarian and deliciously prepared with love by the local Mayan community that works there. I’m not even a coffee drinker and found myself savoring the yummy, smooth, locally grown Guatemalan coffee. The toasted coconut French toast alone was worth the boat ride from Panachajel. If you need a place to recharge your batteries, or time alone to unwind, this is it. Breakfast with a side of volcano, anyone?

Once on the lake the best way to see the different villages ( My favorite village is San Juan; known for textiles and artists) is to wave down a boat or lancha. You just stand on the dock and wave at a passing lancha. Then, the wandering begins.

San Marcos, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Marcos, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Marcos, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Marcos, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

@ hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Juan, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Santa Cruz, Lake Atitlan from Laguna Lodge

Santa Cruz, Lake Atitlan from Laguna Lodge

Frijoles, arroz, tortillas de maiz y jamaica: Lunch at Laguna Lodge, Lake Atitlan

Frijoles, arroz, tortillas de maiz y jamaica: Lunch at Laguna Lodge, Lake Atitlan

View from   , Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

View from Laguna Lodge Eco Resort, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Returning to Lake Atitlan


Return to Guatemala

Returning to Guatemala

From the time I moved to Israel when I was twenty years old, my intuition has been a guiding compass in my life. I’ve never been satisfied with only seeking to understand my own culture in America. Guatemala and Israel are places I’ve returned to over and over again.

This is my sixth visit to Guatemala. Each time I visit I know I will experience something magnificent along the way. Twenty-two distinct Mayan indigenous tribes, perfect weather because Guatemala is the most north of the Central American countries, and the weather is agreeable all year round. The climate changes depend on the altitude of the area but it is basically hot. I love it. I started the trip with a stop in Guatemala City for one night before making my way to Lake Atitlan, my refuge.

View from Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort, Santa Cruz, Lake Atitlan

View from Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort, Santa Cruz, Lake Atitlan


Breakfast - desayuno @ Hotel Barcelo

Breakfast – desayuno @ Hotel Barcelo

Making corn tortillas in Panajachel
Child at Panajachel

Child at Panajachel

Child at Panajachel

Child at Panajachel

Child at Panachajel

Child at Panachajel

Child at Panajachel

Child at Panajachel

Lake Atitlan @ Panajachel

Lake Atitlan @ Panajachel

Child at Panajachel

Child at Panajachel

Little boy - Panachajel

Little boy – Panachajel

Self portrait - Laguna Lodge

Self portrait – Laguna Lodge

Here is a favorite quote of mine from Anais Nin, who was always a source of inspiration for me. Nin challenged conventionally defined gender roles and always sought out travel.

quote-we-travel-some-of-us-forever-to-seek-other-states-other-lives-other-souls-anais-nin-136076

Give the girl a passport

Returning to Guatemala


Write on the Lake – Lake Atitlan, Guatemala with Joyce Maynard

I heard about writer Joyce Maynard years ago. After receiving a full writing scholarship to Yale in 1972, her essay, An 18 year old looks back on Life was printed front page of the NY Times Magazine.  Her life went in a different direction when J.D. Salinger wrote to her, starting a relationship that ended in less than a year after she moved in with him.

Joyce’s love of writing and books was instilled in her by her mother, an English teacher who was passionate about reading, language and books.

My love of books started in elementary school ordering all kinds of stories from the Scholastic Book Club. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a book I reread over and over when I was 12 years old. As Charlie slowly peeled back the tiny wrapper of the Willie Wonka chocolate bar and a flash of gold winked at me, I smiled. I wished Charlie would win the trip to Wonka’s Chocolate Factory because he wanted it more than anyone. Charlie showed me if you want something bad enough, dreams come true.

Guatemala was a dream I’ve had since I was very young. My mother was born and raised there so I have a pull to family when I go and I love the gentle people greeting me with open arms on every corner. I also love the food, the language, the culture, the people; la comida, la lengua, la cultura., la gente. Since I first traveled there in 1983, I have been back on six different trips.

I’ve been carrying around my own story for years. I started writing it two years ago after working with writer Hope Edelman but I allowed my busy life for the past year to stop my writing. I knew it was time to go back to Guatemala. Aldous Huxley said that Lake Atitlan was the most beautiful lake in the world. The combination of studying with Joyce Maynard and the beauty of the lake seemed to be the perfect blend to fill myself up, disconnect my i-Phone and breath deeply.

Joyce has created a space at her home with rocks hand carved in the shape of indigenous peoples, textiles of bright green, vibrant reds, bright blues, happy yellows. Her home is nestled in the side of a cliff in the village of San Marcos on Lake Atitlan. Two cooks nurtured us with a daily breakfast of local papaya, mango, banana, pineapple, watermelon, black beans- frijoles negros, hot corn tortillas, homemade raspberry jelly, eggs scrambled with spinach, onion and Guatemalan coffee con leche. For someone who lives alone and is not much for cooking, I loved the home made, comforting meals.

Another reason to travel to Guatemala is the weather. You can go there anytime of year as the average temperature is 75 degrees. Guatemala has earned its nickname, “land of the eternal spring.”

A group of writers who have stories to tell and need help telling them sat in a circle as Joyce stood at a white board, the blue lake behind her, while she laughed, smiled, and shared her love of writing and books. She taught us how to recognize a dead sentence like “the lake is beautiful” and gave us exercises to paint that picture.

Joyce Maynard – Lake Atitlan 8 March 2012

As the boat pulls away from Lake Atitlan, and I head back to Antigua, where our voyage began, I turn around to see Joyce, waving and smiling, as I take one more hard look at her home and feel grateful for ten days of fresh papaya & guava in the morning and frijoles negros at almost every meal. I’ll be back next year I think to myself as I wrap the black wool poncho around my shoulders that she gifted me with.

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala

En route to Panachajel near Lake Atitlan

Olivia and her alter ego Olivia the artist

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

San Marcos village at Lake Atitlan

San Marcos village at Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan from Joyce Maynard’s home

Lake Atitlan from Hotel Aaculaax

Lake Atitlan

Joyce Maynard

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala – procession

Antigua, Guatemala procession

Antigua, Guatemala procession


Olivia – missing in Guatemala

I started traveling with Olivia, who is at home anywhere she goes, on a journey to Guatemala two years ago. She’s as happy eating frijoles negros overlooking the three volcanos on Lake Atitlan as she is playing with children in a cemetery in La Paz, Bolivia. She climbed Masada in the Sinai desert of Israel and has eaten fresh parmigiano cheese with a glass of Malbec in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Here’s Olivia in Guatemala two years ago at Iglesia de San Francisco, Antigua. As you can see, she was newly adopted and happy. Very happy.

Olivia in Iglesia de San Francisco - Feb 2010

Here’s Olivia in a favorite restaurant in Buenos Aires, Argentina:

Olivia in a favorite restaurant in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Olivia recently at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala with her friend Sharky, Smiley and Olivia the artist – her alter ego:

Olivia the artist, Smiley, Olivia and Sharky at Hotel Aaculaax – Lake Atitlan

On a recent trip to Guatemala, Olivia disappeared. One moment she was having dinner with us in Antigua, a favorite colonial city and the next moment, gone. Nothing. Nada. I’ve tried to make sense of it all. Why, why, why? One moment we were watching the procession in Antigua filled with purple gowns and feeling fervent devotion. The next moment we were enjoying a bowl of chocolate and vanilla ice cream at a goikey hotel. Then the pain in my stomach and the realization she was missing. I tried not to panic as my friend and I quickly walked up and down the cobblestone streets we took the evening before searching for her. Still no sight of Olivia.

Here’s some recent photos of Olivia loving Guatemala. Olivia has no fear, which makes traveling with her a pleasure. She’s alway choosing the higher vibrational energy of love over the force of fear.

Olivia on 4a. Calle Oriente in Antigua, Guatemala

Olivia lounging at Joyce Maynard’s home at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Olivia on a favorite chair at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Olivia reading Ann Hood’s famous essay

Olivia getting free wi-fi at Paco Real Hotel at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Olivia at a favorite spot on Lake Atitlan

Olivia in front of her favorite volcano at Lake Atitlan

Here is the last photo taken of Olivia in Antigua. Notice the look of happiness on her face. I always loved traveling with Olivia as she has no fear.

Olivia on Calle 4 in Antigua on March 11, 2012

If anyone has any information about her, please let me know. No questions asked.


Vamos a Lake Atitlan

My last day in Antigua I visited the church and convent of our Lady of the Pilar of Zaragoza (Convent of Las Capuchinas.) It was founded by five nuns who came from Madrid, Spain and was finished Jan 25, 1736.

I leave Antigua filled up with the city and am en route to Lake Atitlan. I traveled for the first time here last year in Feb. On that trip I covered a lot of territory : Guatemala City, Lake Atitlan, Chichicastenego, Antigua and Tikal all in nine days. On this trip, I spent an entire day and night in Antigua, and then it’s on to Lake Atitlan for the workshop. In a van with 26 participants for Joyce Marnard’s writing workshop. I’m in the front seat and after speaking with the driver for a bit,I go inside. I silently chant to myself the Guru Gayatri mantra Gobinde Mukanda, Udare, Apare, Hariang, Kariang, Nirnamay, Akamey which translates to: Sustainer, Liberator, Enlightener, Infinite, Destroyer, Creator, Nameless, Desireless. (These are the eight aspects or Names of the Creator) to keep my mind focused on something other than the windy road.

I see farms planted with coffee beans, women in the colorful Guatemalan clothes they sew themselves, fields of lettuce, boys riding bikes on the side of the road with their friends walking by their side, tire shops, bus stops, police in blue cars, white horses tied to a fence, purple flowers growing out of rocks,corn fields, pine trees, rocks painted white on the side of the road to keep drivers off the gravel, barefoot children holding onto their mother’s hands, restaurants advertising a complete lunch for 25 quetazeles( about $3.50 US), plus watermelon neatly lined up for sale next to white calla lilies,a lone white dog. I hear the sound of a luggage strap hitting the top of the van, smell of constant brakes of the cars,  then I see a small white small dog dead in the road which mars it all so I switched to Ra Ma Da Sa, a mantra for healing.

Instead of us having lunch at a restaurant, which is easy, she arranged for a van on the side of the road to meet us with lunch. A local man serves us homemade tamales made of meat or veggies wrapped in Manaco; thick green leaves plus bananas and watermelon. I love how much she pays attention to details and makes a point of making our time special.She is constantly looking to help the locals whenever possible. Joyce has a great heart.

Even though it is cloudy, there is a point where we come around a bend in the road.I see the volcanos first and then there it is;  the Tahitian blue lake of Atitlan. This is the lake Aldous Huxley said was the most beautiful in the world.   Concentrating on the details keeps me from feeling what is going through me every day I am here and that is my mother. But I know I’ll get to that place.

Ojala que todos estan bien.


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