The fireworks, the color, the noise are intense. Exciting. Amid this Maya-flavored festival of San Francisco de Asis (Saint Francis), I stand with crowds of Maya admiring the spectacle. When the statue of Saint Francis arrived – amid much fireworks and fanfare – the religious aspect of the ceremony began. I’m in Panajachel, on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, and it’s early October, and the main day of the Festival of San Francisco de Asis is held today, on the 4th. This festival celebrates Saint Francis of Assisi – as most Maya in Guatemala today are Catholic. After parading around the Saint Francis statue, it carried inside the church. And while performers’ masks are distinctively European, the local Maya also infuse their own traditions and colors into this festival. Offerings, prayers, candles, pine-incense; the serious part of the festival. Maya chiefs gather on the steps of the church once the statue is inside. Once the statue was inside and religious ceremonies finished, the carnival of San Francisco de Asis really begun with a variety of costumed dancers. This could be scenes from a European carnival… but it’s in Guatemala! I was staying some months on the opposite side of the Lake Atitlan in the town of San Pedro, so I came over for the main day celebrations of the San Francisco de Asis Festival. The masks get weirder. These are men parading as Mayan women. The Festival of San Francisco de Asis was a day of fireworks, carnival, fairground rides, shack stalls and solid drinking Cowboys hats and European Carnival masks amid the festivities. The amazing colors and patterns of Maya clothing in Guatemala. And strangely, I saw no other Westerners present. I stayed over that evening, drinking long into the night with young Mayan men. Travels in Guatemala – 2009 Please leave this field emptyJoin the Journey Get my FREE book of Crazy Travels & occasional updates Your email * Check your inbox or spam folder to confirm your subscription. Please leave this field emptyJoin the Journey Get my FREE book of Crazy Travels & occasional updates Your email * Check your inbox or spam folder to confirm your subscription.