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For the Tz'utujils, Lake Atitlan represents the most important body of water because it was the place where the world first emerged. It is the "true master, the first of all things; the ocean comes second" (Mendelson 1957:445). The ancient Maya version of the creation contained in the Popol Vuh parallels Nicolás's assertion that the world came into being when mountains rose out of a primordial expanse of water at the beginning of the present age:

The Bay of Santiago Atitlan looking west toward the Volcano San Pedro.