Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chichicastenango - shopping at the markets and goodbyes

Today is the last day that all our group will be together and what better place to spend our last day with our new travelling buddies than bustling markets of Chichicastenango. This colourful highland town is a central hub for all the villages in the area, and its famous market is where all the villagers meet to sell their wares.  This market is the largest market in Guatemala and many tourists flock here to buy authentic Guatemalan artifacts.

Steve and I literally extended our elbows, and pushed our way through the milling crowd.  The fact that it was two days before Christmas must have added to the density of the stalls and crowd.  An area of about 6 blocks was packed with stalls selling just about anything you could think of.  Beautiful rugs, hand embroidered clothing, hand woven shawls, jewelry, wraps, flowers, fruit, veg, meat and of course fireworks!!! One area of the market we walked through was dedicated to fireworks for the upcoming Christmas celebrations.  There were crackers, sparklers and some the biggest double bungers (or crackers) I have ever seen.
We managed to make our way through to the plaza and the main Mayan Church.  The steps of the church were awash with colour as groups of women sat selling flowers of all colours.  Taking care to pay respect to the locals, we entered the church which practiced the traditional form of Mayan religion.  (a mix of their traditional gods and Christianity).  It was very interesting inside.  The furnishings were very sparse, and many family groups in groups on the floor, lighting candles and making offerings.

The markets were actually a little overwhelming, so much colour, noise, and the constant haggling of the stall owners wanting you to buy their goods.  After, spending a couple of hours mingling with the crowds, we decided to seek a little refuge at a restaurant on the first floor of a building in the main street.  We sat on a small balcony, sipping a cold beer, watching the crowd go about its business.  Fascinating!!

Noon, was soon upon us, and it was time for the last supper (lunch anyway) with all the group.  After, lunch we all walked back to the bus stop where the majority of the group caught a bus back to Antigua.  From here they were going to continue their trip down to Costa Rica.  The remaining five, Paulina, Steve and I and two others caught a small bus back to our hotel in Panajachel for our last night in Guatemala.  Tomorrow, it would be time to head back to Mexico and more adventures.

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