Our Guatemala Exploration Trip!
our new travel mates, Nita and Larry for the approximately three-hour drive to Chichicastenango and it's famed market. ''Chichi'' lived up to its billing of displaying a dizzying array of goods ranging from foods to handicrafts. We didn't purchase much, and although bargaining is expected, we barely haggled since the prices were so low and we wanted to support the artists as much as possible. In addition to the myriad of stalls, the two churches on the east and west sides of the market, were fascinating. Gary was quite articulate in describing the curious mixture of Catholic and Mayan rituals. We were able to witness this practice, as shamans were at work in both Santo Tom's on the east side, and the smaller Capilla del Calavrio opposite on the west side. As we were leaving, we were also most fortunate to witness a parade of one of the Catholic Brotherhoods, a cofradia, dating back to the 16th century. Then it was back to our van and on to famed Lake Atitlan. Before arriving in Panajachel on the north side of the lake, we stopped at a magnificent overlook and were treated to a gorgeous view of the lake and its three volcanoes. Atitlan has been compared to Lake Como in northern Italy; and the volcanoes surrounding Atitlan are certainly a match for the mountains surrounding Como. In Panajachel, it was time for a late lunch, and we followed Gary's lead to a small restaurant specializing in pupusas. This dish, new to us gringos, is basically a corn tortilla with various fillings such as cheese, pork, and/or refried beans. The pupusa is stuffed, looking somewhat a donut, though of course with very different fillings. Following our satisfying meal and a stroll around town, it was time for a ride across the lake and our lodging for the next three nights. My vision of a ride across the large lake in a sizable ferry was soon dashed as the five of us boarded a small fiberglass dinghy with an outboard motor. The crossing, being buffeted by wind and waves for about 40 minutes, was quite thrilling. Upon arriving at our destination, Santiago, we learned that our travel mates, Nita and Larry were lodging at the Hotel Bambuacute, while my partner D and I went to the Posada de Santiago, run by the charismatic Dave Glanville. Both lodgings were beautifully situated on the lake, a distance from the town. Our cottage was superbly furnished (including a supply of Dave's estate grown coffee) and beautifully situated. While we were in this relatively secluded location, we ate our evening meals at the Posada. As it turned out, there was a rather large birthday celebration that evening, and they had arranged for musical entertainment, which we all enjoyed. The guitarist/vocalist was an American, originally from Ohio, but living in Panajachel for the last 30 years. After a satisfying meal and Chilean wine, it was time to put an end to our long day.