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According to the Annals of the Kaqchikels, the ancient highland Maya associated Lake Atitlan with these first waters of creation. When the Kaqchikels first arrived in the region, their king threw himself into the lake and changed himself into Gucumatz ("Quetzal Serpent"), the god who initiated the creation from within the waters that once covered the earth (Recinos 1953:76-77). Immediately the lake became dark. Then a north wind came up and a whirlpool formed in the water reminiscent of the darkness and chaos of the primordial world. According to the text, the Tz'utujils were so impressed by this demonstration of power that they ceded the northern shores of the lake to the Kaqchikels.

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