Monday, November 17, 2008
Rabinal???? A GREAT MARKET!
The weekly Thursday market in Rabinal is an authentic Guatemalan market at it's best. Only one other tourist, a young former Peace Corps Volunteer fellow who stayed on in Honduras with a paying job working on getting water to outlying villages, who was in town for a meeting. Women came from miles around to buy and sell, the sellers wearing their traditional clothing -- but none for sale! We were told the older, used 'huipiles' would be available on the Sunday markets. You had to hunt to find even the newer ones...women line up sitting on the ground, with 2-foot diameter baskets in front of them, a cloth hiding the contents of what they are selling. Interesting marketing technique.
The market reminded me of what the Chichicastenango (ChiChi) market was like decades ago, before it became the wholesale venue for tourist items, i.e. fabric covered notebooks,purses, cheap carved masks, etc. (They are even selling dish towels IMPRINTED with a woven design, made in San Francisco of all places.) We were an oddity, but received in a very friendly fashion. The best moment for me was when offering to buy a woman's head wrap - 'cinta' - which she offered having left her duplicate at home after I expressed an interest. The cinta is very rare and not seen any longer except in high end antique stores, it wraps through and holds their long hair together, with a huge set of pompoms resting on the center front of her hair. During our negotiations, during which a small crowd of nearby women gathered close, she mentioned she purchased this special wedding cinta for her daughter's wedding, but the daughter wanted to wear a more modern hairclip. Was I getting married, then? Oh, no, I answered, in my best Spanish, I tried that once, and once was enough, thank you. They burst into HUGE peals of laughter, and we were instant friends. Great fun and wonderful cameraderie.
We hired a taxi then to drive us to our next destination, Coban. The only transportation in the outlying areas is the famous 'chicken bus' which are in fact decommissioned US yellow school buses, highly decorated. Their safety is dubious, and they pack 4-5 persons per seat, plus have others sit on the floor while they careen wildly over mountain passes for a 75 cent thrill of a lifetime. We have learned that HUNDREDS of bus drivers have been murdered in Guatemala City now, bus company owners refusing to pay the extorsion monies demanded by gang members, or else. It has the nation in a huge crises as you can imagine, buses being the only form of transportation for probably 90% of the citizens.
Posted by Judith Haden at 10:55 AM