Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fear & Loathing in Chichicastenango

So maybe not loathing, but definitely fear.......

Chichicastenango is a small town in the mountains, about an hour north of Panajachel. My reasoning for suggesting an overnight visit was that on Sundays (and to a lesser extent on Thursdays) the town turns into a huge handicraft market, radiating out from the main church steps. Vendors travel from all over the region to set up their stalls the night before, apparently an event in itself. Sounded good to me.

We stayed at the Hotel Pop Wuj, down the hill from the main action. This is where our problems started, as around the corner was a local chapter office of AA. Normally this wouldn't be a problem at all, but it is when it appears to be a cover for a bar. Drunk men were all over the place when we were heading back after dinner on the Saturday night, including one guy sobbing in the gutter. We stopped and tried to think of how we could help with limited Spanish, but it soon became clear that he was drunk, and wobbled off into the distance. We were then followed for the rest of the short distance back to our hotel (by a different fellow). Speed walking back to the hotel while attempting to look nonchalant on very uneven cobbled roads is really not that easy.

Finally, vegan options in Chichi were non-existent (as we had expected). Our hopes of adapting something at the one place we knew had vegetarian options were quickly dashed, as they had sadly already closed for the night (we had Gallo Pinto there the next day, which was so tasty and fresh). After scouring restaurant menus for over an hour, we finally found vegetable pasta at a small restaurant that was decorated like a Swiss chalet.

It was fascinating to see the Sunday market itself, particularly around the church steps. I did start to feel after a few minutes however that we were intruding on a significant event for local people. We took to the back streets of the market to see if things were different there, but happened to stumble into "meat alley" - chickens being sold (dead or alive), and even kittens for sale, tied up with ropes around their necks.

Next stop: Antigua.


Miss T said...

Oh kittens. That's like fear and heartbreak.
Thanks for your lovely message :) I know you'll be gone for ages but there'll always be Szechuan eggplant waiting for dinner when you come back. xx

kinako said...

these photos are gorgeous! looks like you are having a wonderful adventure. happy and safe travels!