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Regarded as a treacherous time, there is the expectation of risk. This was powerfully brought home to us at the very moment of our arrival. The entire town filled the plaza and lined the streets in a powerful gesture of solidarity to send nine fellow Atitecos, victims of a bus crash, to their rest. The tragic procession of coffins wound its way towards the cemetery on a hill above the lake. At each turn of the route, the coffin-bearers raised their burden three times high above their heads. This was something we would see again in the next few days, but with different burdens.

The church stands in a dominant position on a platform overlooking the town and facing the volcano. Perhaps a pre-conquest Maya temple stood here before.