February 28th, 2007
Life in Antigua is filled with colorful houses, rocky-unpaved roads, beautiful and ornate churches, the sound of bustling cars, trucks, buses, and people spilling over the streets. Signs are placed discreetly; even McDonald’s does not stand out. Police and military personnel seem out of place, but are all too common for even the school children to flinch. Public buses hurry along with never enough time, which is all too peculiar knowing all are going to be late. Many flock to the central square for an ice cream or a treat, while others look for love on every bench seat.
Panajachel and Chichicastenango Market
While in route to Panajachel this last weekend our shuttle’s engine decided to overheat. The problem seemed to have stemmed from a lack of cooling fluid. Not a big deal, our driver eventually pulled the vehicle over, called the travel agency and had us picked up in an hours time and on our way to Pana destination. I just feel bad for the guy sitting shotgun since the motor was located underneath his seat.
Coming down and descending upon Lake Atitlan was dramatic. Mountains and three large volcanoes surround this expansive lake, which is dotted by numerous towns along its shores. We ended up on the lip of the lake, watching the sun set and slowly fade. As this happened we could see small lights spring up from the small pueblos on the distance shores. We finished the night in a quaint restaurant talking with the Luis, the manager, and practicing our Spanish.
The next day we rose early and caught another shuttle to the ChiChi market, the largest market in all of Guatemala. We walked, shopped, and bought a few souvenirs and gifts over the duration of five hours; more than anyone needs in my opinion. Especially with the amount of haggling that goes into purchase. No price is set in stone, and usually the best was obtained after negotiating for a while and ‘walking’ away as if we didn’t want it. It was definitely worth going, and apart from the tourist section of the market there is native mark et. It is filled with indigenous folk dressed in their traditional, intricate, and colorful garb selling vegetables, pigs, fruits, roosters, typical dishes, and anything else imaginable. Streets were too tight for comfort, little four foot ladies pushed me out of their way with either a baby or some other large sack strapped to their back, and every vendor yelled incase we couldn’t see what they were selling. Be sure to check out the photo section as it’s difficult to express the energy felt.