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ing his way, situated between two immense volcanoes eight or ten thousand feet high. Farther on was another volcano, and farther still another, more lofty than all, with its summit buried in clouds. There were no associations connected with this lake; until lately we did not know it even by name; but we both agreed that it was the most magnificent spectacle we ever saw. We stopped and watched the fleecy clouds of vapour rising from the bottom, moving up the mountains and the sides of the volcanoes. We descended at first by a steep pitch, and then gently for about three miles along the precipitous border of the lake, leaving on our right the camino real and the village of San Andres, and suddenly reached the brink of the table-land, two thousand feet high. At the foot was a rich plain running down to the water; and on the opposite side another immense perpendicular mountain side, rising to the same height with that on which we stood. In the middle of the plane, buried in foliage, with the spire of the church barely visible, was the town of Panachahel. Our first view of the lake was the most beautiful we had ever seen, but this surpassed it. All the requisites of the grand and beautiful were there; gigantic mountains, a valley of poetic softness, lake, and volcanoes, and from the height on which we stood a waterfall marked a silver line down its sides. A party of Indian men and women were moving in single file from the foot of the mountain toward the village, and looked like children. The descent was steep and perpendicular, and, reaching the plain, the view of the mountain-walls was sublime. As we advanced the plain formed a triangle with its base on the lake, the two mountain ranges converged to a point, and communicated by a narrow defile beyond with the village of San Andres.
Riding through a thick forest of fruit and flower trees, we entered the village, and at three o'clock rode up to the convent. The padre was a young man, cura of four or five villages, rich, formal, and polite; but all over the world women are better than men; his mother and sister received us cordially. They were in great distress on account of the outrage at Quezaltenango. Carrera's troops had passed through on their return to Guatimala, and they feared that the same bloody scenes were to be enacted all through the country. Part of his outrages were against the person of a cura, and this seemed to break the only chain that was supposed to keep him in subjection. Unfortunately, we learned that there was little or no communication with Santiago Atitan, and no canoe on this side of the lake. Our only chance of seeing Don Saturnino again was that he would learn this fact at Atitan, and if there was a canoe there, send it for us. After dinner, with a servant of the house as guide, we walked down to the lake. The path lay through a tropical garden. The climate was entirely different from the table-land above, and productions which would not grow there flourished here. Sapotes, hocotes, aguacates, manzones, pineapples, oranges, and lemons, the best fruits of Central America, grew in profusion, and aloes grew thirty to thirty-five feet high, and twelve or fourteen inches thick, cultivated in rows, to be used for thatching miserable Indian huts. We came down to the lake at some hot springs, so near the edge that the waves ran over the spring, the former being very hot, and the latter very cold. According to Huarros, “the Lake of Atitan is one of • the most remarkable in the kingdom. It is about twenty-four miles from east to west, and ten from north to
south, entirely surrounded by rocks and mountains. There is no gradation of depth from its shores, and the bottom has not been found with a line of three hundred fathoms. It receives several rivers, and all the waters that descend from the mountains, but there is no known channel by which this great body is carried off. The only fish caught in it are crabs, and a species of small fish about the size of the little finger. These are in such countless myriads that the inhabitants of the surrounding ten villages carry on a considerable fishing for them.”
At that hour of the day, as we understood to be the case always at that season of the year, heavy clouds were hanging over the mountains and volcanoes, and the lake was violently agitated by a strong southwest wind; as our guide said, la laguna esta mucha brava. Santiago Atitan was nearly opposite, at a distance of seven or eight leagues, and in following the irregular and mountainous border of the lake from the point where Don Saturnino left us, we doubted whether he could reach it that night. It was much farther off than we supposed, and with the lake in such a state of agitation, and subject, as our guide told us, at all times to violent gusts of wind, we had but little inclination to cross it in a canoe. It would have been magnificent to see there a tropical storm, to hear the thunder roll among the mountains, and see the lightnings flash down into the lake. We sat on the shore till the sun disappeared behind the mountains at the head of the lake. Mingled with our contemplations of it were thoughts of other and far distant scenes, and at dark we returned to the conVent.
Lake of Atitan.—Conjectures as to its Origin, &c.—A Sail on the Lake.—A dangerous Situation.—A lofty Mountain Range.—Ascent of the Mountains.—Commanding View.—Beautiful Plain.—An elevated Willage.—Ride along the Lake. —Solola.-Visit to Santa Cruz del Quiché.—Scenery on the Road.—Barrancas. —San Thomas.-Whipping-posts.--Plain of Quiché.-The Village.—Ruins of Quiché.-Its History.—Desolate Scene.—A facetious Cura.-Description of the Ruins.—Plan.—The Royal Palace.—The Place of Sacrifice.—An Image. —Two Heads, &c.—Destruction of the Palace recent.—An Arch.
EARLY in the morning we again went down to the lake. Not a vapour was on the water, and the top of every volcano was clear of clouds. We looked over to Santiago Atitan, but there was no indication of a canoe coming for us. We whiled away the time in shooting wild ducks, but could get only two ashore, which we afterward found of excellent flavour. According to . the account given by Huarros, the water of this lake is so cold that in a few minutes it benumbs and swells the limbs of all who bathe in it. But it looked so inviting that we determined to risk it, and were not benumbed, nor were our limbs swollen. The inhabitants, we were told, bathed in it constantly; and Mr. C. remained a long time in the water, supported by his life preserver, and without taking any exercise, and was not conscious of extreme coldness. In the utter ignorance that exists in regard to the geography and geology of that country, it may be that the account of its fathomless depth, and the absence of any visible outlet, is as unfounded as that of the coldness of its waters.
The Modern Traveller, in referring to the want of specific information with regard to its elevation, and other circumstances from which to frame a conjecture as to its origin, and the probable communication of its
waters with some other reservoir, states that the “fish which it contains are the same as are found in the Lake of Amatitan,” and asks, “May there not be some connexion between these lakes, at least the fathomless one, and the Volcan de Agua 7” We were told that the mohara, the fish for which the Lake of Amatitan is celebrated in that country, was not found in the Lake of Atitan at all; so that on this ground at least there is no reason to suppose a connexion between the two lakes. In regard to any connexion with the Volcan de Agua, if the account of Torquemada be true, the deluge of water from that volcano was not caused by an eruption, but by an accumulation of water in a cavity on the top, and consequently the volcano has no subterraneous water power. The elevation of this lake has never been taken, and the whole of this region of country invites the attention of the scientific traveller. While we were dressing, Juan, one of our mozos, found a canoe along the shore. It was an oblong “dugout,” awkward and rickety, and intended for only one person; but the lake was so smooth that a plank seemed sufficient. We got in, and Juan pushed off and paddled out. As we moved away the mountainous borders of the lake rose grandly before us; and I had just called Mr. C.’s attention to a cascade opening upon us from the great height of perhaps three or four thousand feet, when we were struck by a flaw, which turned the canoe, and drove us out into the lake. The canoe was overloaded, and Juan was an unskilful paddler. For several minutes he pulled, with every sinew stretched, but could barely keep her head straight. Mr. C. was in the stern, I on my knees in the bottom of the canoe. The loss of a stroke, or a tottering movement in changing places, might swamp her;