Monday, November 17, 2008


Got a great mini-shuttle from Coban to drive us to ChiChi. Six hour drive, with a spine crushing first couple of hours over a washed out dirt and gravel road.
htpp:// $35 well-spent, shared with some French and Spanish tourists.

As always, we stay at the Posada del Arco. Pedro, who lived in the US from age 18-55, and his wife, have created a cozy, tiny guest house, with large room, great fireplaces, and a balcony overlooking the entire valley. This is our third time here. About $20 a night.

The indigenous market is incredible, and still magical. The Indian Quiche population here is different from that in other parts of Guatemala (55-60% of the country is indigenous, speaking about 20 different dialects; Spanish is always a second language.) and the Mayan customs and traditional attire still dominate, both religious and political life. We caught a cofradia parade into the church, very thrilling. I like to get up at sunup, and go watch the flower vendors sprawled on the church steps, in a cloud of copal incense smoke (Sundays) selling to church go-ers. This is one place where time does seem to have stood still, at least until you get deeper into the market and see the newly arrived vendors of black market CDs selling rap music at high volume on their boom boxes. I just pretend they aren't there, which ain't easy. Thousands of items are for sale, in hundreds of booths, and these are tourist items. We figured there were about 80 tourists here, a large German group, and assorted others. What will they ever do with all those goods?

Here in the market you can in fact buy well-made new local huipiles for a reasonable price. We have found some wonderful vendors of second-hand huipiles at great prices; you have to sift through mountains of rags to find the fabulous ones, but it's better than an Easter egg hunt, believe me. Fun!!!

The day after the market is also interesting. The big dollar vendors go home on Sunday night, and today, Monday, the little guys are inhabiting the same stalls, selling bits and pieces of old rusty hardware pieces, and huge truckloads of US thrift store leftovers to an eager audience. The indoor food market is being washed clean, so the usual vendors have spilled out into the outdoor area. Many shoe vendors. Every single handicraft store was closed up tight as a drum, the town was virtually empty. Had a day to rest and read before returning tomorrow to Antigua.

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