Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Santo Tomas Church

Deborah at the park fountain, we found it!

I am thinking just about anyone who has been to Guatemala, has been to Chichi. It is a tourist destination, mostly for its famous market. Handicrafts galore, Chichi has been the center of handicrafts for all of Guatemala. I admit to buying a great deal from this colorful market, every Thursday and Sunday.  There is something more to this town of 80,000.  It has become a central market for all of the state of Quiche, with market stalls surrounding the central park every day of the week. I can remember in the 80's coming there on off tourist market days with a view of all the town square, a clear view off both churches and this royal fountain in the center. Today, one must make your way through plastic covered rows of tables, vendors selling everything imaginable, to discover the fountain in the center.

My friend Deborah and I decided to spend some time in Chichi on a non market day. We were surprised what we found.  We went to the Mayan Lodge, a small wonderful hotel I used to go to as a getaway back in the 80's.  A bargain at $30 for two, fireplaces, right in the center of the market, and parking included!

Mayan Lodge

  The street on a normal day
The owner of the hotel grew up in this home, she told us the entire story of how it went from home and store front to hotel.  Her father was the first to convert the rooms for guest, he started a restaurant where they once had a handicraft store. Sitting on the town square, colonial era construction, it is perfect.

On a market day one never gets to see some buildings, just too much stuff.  In 35 years, I have never noticed this building and it sits right across from a place I buy from all the time.

Can't see the forest for the trees, same street, market day.
 Our next big discovery was what the "pit" looks like, in fact it is around a building which is the town theater.  It is filled with used textiles, piled as high as the walls are.  Tight and cramped, hard to maneuver about, and hard bargaining. 
empty and wet with rain
entrance to the area on market day

The smaller church was open, what a treat!


This church appears a bit older than the larger, Santo Tomas church.  Lovely carvings, wooden floors, all stained by the constant burning of candles and incense.  

Notice the concrete slabs?  Mayan rituals are preformed, circling different colors of candles and piles of incense. All are set ablaze, as prayers are made. Very impressive if you have ever seen how fast an entire candle burns when set on its side. The Catholic and Mayan practices are mixed.
Here you see the traditional Catholic candle lighting under a carving of Jesus.

 Below is an example of the Mayan ritual fire.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tiny Town of 40 Prepares for Thousands!

 Das Blaue Hause Field, Warrenton, Texas

In the beginning, it's just Texas

Now that we are all home from Warrenton, have placed all the goodies we found just where ya want them, I thought I would show you a few pics from the beginning.  Before the tents all go up, we have to do what all Texans do with their "free" time, MOW! 
Jr. Wagner mowed twice before the tents went up!



We have to unpack everything which might have  been left from the last show.  Here you see all of   Dick's left overs.  Amazing, there are still some   great finds left over here. The wicker chair went   the first few days.                                                  

The tents - they go up with a great deal of work. This year we had 2 storms during the setup weeks. Those tents, they do go down. Heavy winds can twist a tent across the field. Heavy rains can collect in the tarps if the poles are not put down before the rain. Word to vendors- drop your side poles before the rain. I saw so many tent poles bent in a 90 degree angle just from the weight of the gathered water on the tarp.  One held water the size of a big child's kiddie swimming pool, all the poles were a goner. 

The camper spaces have to be marker off. Here is Jimmy  telling us to move our campers.  It would help if he got there when we did. I actually had to move my rig 6 inches! Gotta get those campers packed in.  We live with our neighbors for one month, inches apart. Good thing I have good neighbors, we are just like family!


Finally, the tables are opened, the boxes are unpacked, and we are done. We await crowds and big time fun. See you in September! Come early, Make memories, come to Warrenton. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pacific Coast of Guatemala

If you leave Pana with the desire of sticking your feet in the closest ocean, you head out the upper road going around the lake toward the volcanoes Atitlan and Toliman.  The views from this side are much different than the views from Panajachel or any of the villages to the north where most of the foreign population tend spend their time. Instead of looking straight into the bay of Santiago, the site pulls your vision to San Lucas, the back side of the volcanoes.

 The coffee was in full bloom on that side of the mountains. Snowy white flowers, fields of them.
Once you have passed San Lucas and head toward the coast, the culture and people appear very different. You could even be in a different country.  Guatemala is like that, so many cultures in one. The typical clothing is replaced by jeans, cotton dresses, and women who cut their hair. 

 First stop was the required break down. A part fell off the brakes, they fixed it, took it off. Parking brake, you don't need that right?  Folks were really nice in this town.  The guy at the small store gave us oranges. Were there only 20 minutes and off to the beach.

We make it to the coast, small coastal inlet and a few minutes ride across the brackish bay to the ocean side.                                        The most interesting note about this trip is we drove 150 miles in one day. Seventy five miles each way, a simple day trip. It took 4 hours each way, giving us about 3 hours to jump into the water and have the most amazing fresh fish you have ever tasted. 
    Was a memorable trip, we loved every minutes of it.  Travel in Guatemala is always an excitement in the trip itself. Always a story, nothing goes right, yet everything goes along perfect! A 12 hours day to go a short distance, to put your toes in the ocean, and to have a ice cream cone at the famous Parma cheese factory. A day to spend with friends.
Five Friends Go To the Beach for a Day

Saturday, February 11, 2012

How the Guatemalans do a Vendor Gig

This is especially for all of my vendor friends.  How would you like a permanent booth space, well located, great huh? Now let's say you have to build the booth from some sticks, and some rough boards everyday. This is the family's vendor space out the window of my apartment in Panajachel.
The dad of the family, who looks in his 60's, where did those young kids come from?, comes every morning about 6:30am and begins to build the structure.
Along the wall, there are a few 1x2's left attached permanently, so that helps in that area. Off to the side he creates 8 extra feet, free standing with a few sticks and one long continuous rope.  He builds a platform, lays the boards together in the right order, no nails are ever used. The long poles are woven to each other in a large square.

Building the booth, alone, every morning
Check it out, the addition is made! All of the supporting poles and the cross poles are tied using the same long rope. I have watched him breakdown and the rope just keeps going as he un-loops each area.To tie the higher areas which he can't reach, he makes the loops using the pole in his hand. He never gets on the chair, building or breakdown! Some kind of amazing art just keeps going on.

Now the tablecloths go on and an awning, more sticks, is fashioned.  As the day goes on, he will remove the awning. When it rains, plastic replaces the cloth awning.
The merchandise goes out.  At some point here, mom and an about 12 years old girl sometimes shows up. Depends on if it is a school day, the children go to school from 7am to 1pm. I have seen a small boy, not sure if he is theirs. Dad gets some help with the last bit of merchandise. The set up takes 3 hours!

The family sells all day, into the night. Break down takes an hour if all the family helps out. All of the structural work is only done by the man. I have seen them take a day off, I hear from others this is not usual.

Mom and Dad sit waiting for customers

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Guatemala Bound

Don’t you just love airports? It’s all out entertainment. The porters, they are so nice, then run off with your stuff at a dead run. Oh no, my shoe lace came untied, “Do I chance it?” I’m lucky, been this route before, I know where he is going.   From the airport bus to the terminals, there is an elevator, he has to stop and wait. I catch up, out the elevator, there he goes, again. He waits after my bag has been placed in front of the line, has too, he needs to get paid. If one is early, you get a seat in the front of the plane. No waiting when it is time to “disembark”. You get your bags first (maybe) and get through customs first and easy. So I am early, more airport fun. 

There are two choices when waiting. 1) The stores – book stores can be some of the greatest. The boutiques are top notch and top prices, if someone told you to get great deals at the duty free, they are uninformed or they lied. The window shopping or idea grabbing is fantastic. Check out these boots I found with hand embroidered Mexican designs! I want these. Nope, I did not even look at the price. 

Mexican or From the States?
2) The food courts, even better than the general waiting areas for people watching. Oh yes, you can grab a bite to eat, as your cover. In Mexico City, this means anything from McDonald's to specialty foods.  Me, I kicked back with a plate of Chinese veggies and rice. Let's settle in for some  real fun. It’s here you see the traveler, the workers, and in Mexico City, the folks who live near by and come to hang. Now we get to my favorite game when I have ran out of books and no one wants to give free internet. Guessing who is who and what their story might be.Take a look at this family.  At first glance, regular Mexican family. Absolutely not! Only a tourist would wear such a hat, even the rancho guys around San Miguel would not wear such a thing.  The kid is the give away, his t-shirt (has a weird creature on it) says I am from the states. They have been to see Grandma, and on their way back home.
Two Women Backpackers - Tell Me Your Story 
Two women backpacking. Mother and daughter? I will let you make up your own story. Maybe, one is German. Yes both, German backpackers on their way to Costa Rica. What's your story?

The Airport Workers

The two girls taking their break from their cleaning jobs.  Man is she mad, they have made her clean the lost baggage area all morning. There is an open bay to the outside and it is freezing!

Now, after we have had all of that fun, begins the time of doubt. Is my plane really coming to this gate? They always change it at the last minute. Am I the only one who doesn’t know?  Oh look, they are boarding my flight, at the gate next to the gate it is supposed to be. It is a bit early, about 30 minutes early?  No, people are going on the plane, the attendants are not calling the seat numbers like normal.  Did I miss all of that while buried in my computer?  I am going up, so I did, pack up the computer and walked into a half full plane. Have they changed the time? They do that sometimes, at least I am on board. So we sit, and sit. Why do they not turn the air on, I can’t breathe. Twenty minutes or more has passed, now I feel the plane is moving, down the tarmac we go.   Plane stops and we wait, again.  You bet, in the end we leave 10 minutes late.  I am off to Guatemala and can’t wait to start my journey.