Market town

Trip Start Sep 28, 2007
Trip End Jun 25, 2008

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Friday, October 26, 2007

After staying the night in Antigua, we were on our way by chicken bus  to the famous market town of Chichicastenango (try saying that when you're drunk).

This town in the highlands has a market every Thursday and Sunday. Or so the story goes. I struggle to believe it really is all packed up and set up again twice a week, especially when it looks so targeted at tourists, not locals.

We wandered around admiring the beautifully woven and embroidered cloth, but retraining from buying anything other than purses.

I bought a cream felted bag decorated with black trim
in spiral patterns. It was unlike the other bags there, which were richly coloured and floral, and I wondered about its origins.

Later  I came across a shop selling lots of items of the same wool felt with black trim and asked. They come from a village in the nearby district of Solola, which is one of the few places in Guatemala where snow falls. The curvy spirals represent water and the  elongated diamond shapes represent bats, which they consider the protector of the people.

When we went back through Solola, I saw an old man with a felted jacket with the bat symbol across the shoulder blades  slung over his back, which made it real for me.

In the middle of the Chichicastenango market was a church, sitting on a platform of steps. Like the traditional Mayan village we saw near San Cristobal, they were burning pine resin and there were pine needles on the floor of the church.

For lunch we had the Guatemalan version of KFC. So this is where the good Colonel found his secret recipe of seven herbs and spices! The battered chicken was being cooked in huge woks of oil on burning coals, and it was served with flavoured rice, mystery sauce, hot potato chunks and coleslaw. Delicious and cheap. It was a relief as we had been finding Guatemala very expensive. Items in the supermarket are as expensive as in New Zealand, and even fruit and veges from roadside markets have been pricey.
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