Some of Atitlán’s more mystically minded gringos love to talk about Atitlán being one of the world’s few vortex energy fields, along with the Egyptian pyramids and Machu Picchu. Though you are unlikely to see fish swimming backwards or buses rolling uphill to Sololá, the lake does have an undeniable draw and Panajachel attracts a polyglot population of healers, therapists and masseurs. Indeed, back in the 1960s and 1970s, Panajachel was the premier Central American hippie hangout, though it’s now fully integrated into the tourism mainstream and is as popular with Guatemalans (and Mexicans and Salvadoreans) as Westerners. The lotus eaters and crystal gazers have not all deserted the town, though – many have simply reinvented themselves as capitalists, owning restaurants and exporting handicrafts. In many ways it’s this gringo crowd that gives the town its modern character and identity – vortex energy centre or not.

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