We left Lake Atitlan on schedule and posed for pictures on an overlook. The lake appears so calm from this height. We enjoyed a twisting but spacious ride in a half filled van. The hour and a half to Chichi, as I prefer to call Chichicastenango, was pleasant. Chichi is one of Guatemala’s most famous market towns and we were ready to seize the day.
Our shopping in the Atitlan communities yielded works of artisan mastery that we can enjoy for a long time so our current shopping list is pretty short. But that is no reason to avoid a market. I find it hard to describe the sensation of weaving and bobbing through riotous color and aromas. Being of average US height, I know what it is like to be a giant in a land of 4 foot people. I can easily keep track of Peggy who is a good head taller that most of the folks in the market. But make no mistake, the place is crowded and humming with activity. Peggy complained of claustrophobia. I just enjoyed the jostle of humanity.
The market is held twice a week at this time of the year. It is both a farmer’s market and craft fair. There are also vendors selling household goods and clothing. It is a case of anything to help the household. I love the vegetable and fruit locales, especially the one in the basketball court. We managed to find the main church through the myriad sellers of candles and flowers that are used by folks in their devotions. The church itself was appropriately somber in this Lenten season. Plenty of candles in the nave.
We were early to the markets and were obvious targets for sellers of tourist wares. I am getting pretty good at politely shaking them off. Later on bus loads of European tourists arrived and it was much easier to fend off aggressive marketers with a hand motion indicating money and pointing to the unsuspecting other tourists. We did end up finding the puzzles for our grandsons and we found the actual fabric store for Peggy’s new projects.
We were back on the van for our remaining ride to Antigua. Tried to capture a few pictures of Guatemalan farms. The ones in the hills manage to grow crops on the sides of hills that we would find daunting to climb. In the rare flat areas, the vegetables and other crops are grown intensely. Didn’t see much in the way of tractors or heavy farm equipment. Still they manage to grow enough food to feed this country of 17 million and produce export crops. Of course, the scales weigh against the poor but the land seems to be peaceful from the perspective of a traveler.
We arrived in Antigua in time for an orientation walk and unloading our laundry at a service for pick up tomorrow. We will spend the full day here tomorrow on our own. We did manage to find the Antigua Brewery and watch the sun go down while watching the wrong volcano. Half way through our excellent hamburger, we were directed to “El Fuego” that was puffing smoke. It was finally too cold to watch. Antigua is at around 6,000 feet and definitely a locale for sweater night time wear. We are in a charming small hotel and liking our room.