Sunday, February 3, 2013


This weekend we went to Chichicastenango. "-tenango" translates to "place of" so this was "the place of Quiche" because there is a very large indigenous population there. The cathedral there was actually built on top of a Mayan temple that the Spaniards kindly demolished, so the religion there mixes a lot of traditional Catholicism with Mayan tradition as well.

However, I am getting ahead of myself. On the way to Chichi, aside from the 2 hours drive through the highlands, which I spent glued to my window, we stopped widow's cooperative. During the war, the army bombed a church in this village, killing 40 of the townspeople. Then, many other men were kidnapped, assassinated  or forced into the "Civil Defense Patrol", leaving a community even more poor and torn apart. The Methodist Church really helped them rebuild, and through a series of events many widows from the community began to do what they could as work for the church in return for food and supplies. This evolved into a large cooperative where the women make textiles and artisan items and sell them. They live in community, grow crops, and are able to send their children to school (even primary and secondary school can be a privilege to attend depending on where you live). It was an amazing experience to meet the women and hear their story firsthand from several of them and the pastor of the Methodist Church. I proceeded to buy quite a lot of souvenirs from them. It's awesome to buy something so beautiful from the very woman who created it!

We then headed on to the city, where he had dinner and relaxed. Then, today, after watching part of mass at the church and having some delicious breakfast, we headed to the market, which was quite an experience. Children selling toys and other items literally chase you down, asking you in perfect English to buy a flute for your boyfriend or asking you to buy them shoes for school (while wearing perfectly nice shoes). There are also adorable stray dogs EVERYWHERE, bascially every breed imaginable. There are so many people and so many colors. Haggling is part of the culture and if you are obviously a foreigner the price they give for items is extremely high. You can see them scope you out and then make up a price based on how new and how eager you look. So then you argue with them in Spanish for awhile (if only to learn they speak better English than you do Spanish), and then settle on a price approximately 1/5 of what the originally asked. I am normally not someone who likes this type of game, but I have to say I got into it quite a bit, trying to get the most for my quetzales! I hear they're saying these days that women like shopping so much because it activates some survival instincts from the hunter-gatherer days when women gathered goods for the family.... I believe it. 
The Widow's Cooperative

A few of the women and a boy who made faces at us all through the presentation!

View of the market from the hotel balcony

Gorgeous hotel balcony with pretty plants



This Volcano Santa Maria. I am still hoping for a chance to climb it while we are here.

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