Museo Balam (tel. 5787-3598, 7 a.m.–9 p.m., $0.65) is to the left 150 meters off the main street one block from the park. Run by a friendly local family, it features marimbas, costumes for traditional village dances, and old leather sandals, bags, plows, and saddles, affording a glimpse into the town’s history and traditions.
Todos Santos is one of very few places in Guatemala that still largely adheres to the 260-day Mayan calendar known as the Tzolkin. There are frequent rituals, including animal sacrifices, performed at a small Mayan site just above town known either as Cumanchúm or Tojcunenchén.
The ruins look out onto the 3,650-meter (12,000-foot) Chemal peak (also known as “La Torre” for the radio mast atop it), which is the highest nonvolcanic peak in Central America. To reach the summit, hike or take a bus east to the neighboring village of La Ventosa, from where a trail leads past adobe houses through sylvan settings to the top, a journey of about 1.5 hours. Your reward on a clear day is a breathtaking view of Guatemala’s volcanic chain from Tacaná on the Mexican border all the way east to Agua and Acatenango, near Antigua.
Todos Santos is well known for its annual November 1 horse races capping off weeklong All Saints’ Day festivities that include plenty of drinking, dancing, and general merriment.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com