Ads favourite- the markets of Chichicastenango!
Day 7 - Ads favourite pastime, visiting the famous market in the hills of Chichicastenango! Another early start saw us waiting for our bus to arrive 'ala Guatemalan time!' It was quite cool though, sitting and watching the world go by taking in the local life and all the happenings of the city at 7am was worth the wait. Tuk tuk's speeding along, buses beeping to pick up kids for school, stray dogs wandering etc.etc... and mad local buses flying round the corners at max speed. The local buses here are just wicked (god I am a bus geek!), the style is abit like the old US school buses in Belize but here they have a larger truck style front and are painted in bright vibrant multi colours amongst the chrome, just wicked.... Unfortunately for Adam we now have lots of bus pictures! They are always rammed though so perhaps my love of this transport is from the outside, not within! After some commotion re the front seat we were finally on our way towards Chichi and almost immediately were back within the lush green mountain valleys winding along roads passing shacks, farmers' fields, kids with their sisters on their backs and locals on their way to work. I had to laugh (or should I say do a double take!) when on passing through one village, an old local guy was on his way to work naked with just a shovel! What a sight to see at 7.30am.... The roads weren't particularly great at all and due to road works we were soon slipping through mud slides & rivers it was horrendous especially when we slid towards the mountain edge encountering hair pin bends on route! After a few huge bumps later which sent everyone flying we were finally climbing high into the mountain valley winding up and up and up until we reached the town, perched on a hill at a mere 2071 metres, of Chichicastenango. Famous for its Thursday market the town boasts a hive of activity with crafts and stalls crammed all around the church square and cobbled side streets. Electric magnetic colours of hand woven materials hung everywhere, women in beautiful traditional dress cram down the streets with babies swaddled in bright striped cloth hanging off their backs whilst large bundles are suspended once again on their heads, it was a fantastic sight to see! There are actually only 1000 people that live in the town but over 20,000 'Mashenos'/ Mayans live in the residing highland villages and flock here on a Thursday and Sunday to sell their goods. I couldn't wait to explore, not sure about Adam though.... Eventually after a much needed coffee we hit the streets and I am proud to say that Adam bought us both a gorgeous bedspread but resisted a hammock ha ha! Wandering into the church, a local lady explained to me the many gods that the Mayan people come from the highlands to pray for in the church whilst an abundance of candles and incense were being lit all around on concrete slabs, one for each god. Then heading away from the centre we looked out over the landscape from the main arch into the town and watched as traffic mayhem of hundreds of speeding tuk tuks and buses attempted to ram each other down the small cobbled streets amongst continual beeping and shouting! At 2pm the hub of day tourists disappeared and it was great to soak up the calmer atmosphere, despite the fact that it was now absolutely pouring down and we were all getting soaked! That night pretty bust and feeling the altitude slightly we retired to bed quite early after finally finding a taxi to take us to Panjachel the next day as unfortunately no buses were running and we were the only 2 wanting to do the journey so taxi it was otherwise we were stuck! Sunday market perhaps Adam??!