Touristy markets and mystical churches

Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
Trip End Jan 19, 2007

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Sunday, December 3, 2006

Up and out for our 6am bus to Chichi (as the locals call it) for the big Sunday market (is also on Thurs) takes a few hours to get there again across more hills and past lush green landscape. We arrive in Chichi and are due to meet back at 1400 for our onward trips.

The market is pretty big and not too busy but is all pretty much touristy handicrafts stuff. We are a bit disappointed on first impressions. We find some side streets and then the heart of the market where more locals are, men in straw cowboy hats and black very heavily multi-coloured embroidered tops and women in embroidered tops and skirts, apparently a lot of the local dress is dying out as its so expensive to buy.

We find the stalls that locals buy from, fruit and veg, hardwares and it feels a bit more real. Then we come across the 2 white churches facing each other, Santo Tomas and Calvario from the 16th Century. We go in the first one and meet our US friend again from the taxi to Antigua and sit at the top of the steps watching the hustle and bustle and the men below us selling wood for fires. Then we somehow manage to get across to the next church. The steps are a great sight with flowers being sold everywhere and fires at the bottom of the steps and huge wafts of incense being waved around at the top. It reminds me of India and at last I feel that we have seen something more authentic and a bit less touristy here, although there are obviously loads of tourists around.

Inside the Santo Tomas church itself it is also an amazing atmosphere as white fabric is festooned from the ceiling and candles are standing in the middle of the floor while the locals are saying there goodbyes to the priests after the Sunday morning service. We cant take photos inside sadly. Back outside again we absorb the atmosphere and sounds of the market before heading for lunch in a restaurant above the market.

We get our onward shuttle to Panajachel on Lake Atitlan (anyone planning on doing trips around here it is best to pre-book all shuttles in Antigua when you are there as they are a lot more expensive to book a return etc from Pana or onto anywhere else) so its back in the minibus!
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