This morning Hugo met us bright and early in the dining room for breakfast, then we set out on a walking tour of Santiago. While the town itself was much larger than I expected, the areas just outside the town were smaller. We met some families and saw their homes along the side of the road, and were able to watch a young gal use the wooden loom to create fabric for selling items at the market. It was a treat, and I appreciated them letting us into their home. From there we walked further to see the area that the mudslide in Oct of 2005 destroyed. Some homes had been rebuilt and restored, but others were still buried half way deep in the dirt. Also, along the side of the road, we saw coffee plants and Hugo showed us the beans and explained the process to us for producing coffee as well as planting new plants. I just wish we could have roasted and brewed a cup right there! We then walked into town and saw the main food market, and then walked through the textile market towards the shoreline. Jens and I took about a year deciding on which painting of Lake Atitlan we wanted to buy at a gentleman's shop (poor man -- he probably thought we would never decide) since Hugo told us paintings here would be much less expensive than ones we would find in Chichi or Antigua. Something to make mention of about Santiago, and really most of the highlands town, has mostly to do with the people encountered there. The majority of the people living there still wear their traditional Maya clothing. The clothing actually is used as a way to identify what city or region they are from, as different colored shirts for the girls indicate different geographic regions, as well as the men in each city varied the style of pants or accessories worn. The villages are for the most part a slower way of life compared to the US, yet still you occasionally would see a Maya gal chatting on a cell phone in her typical attire, which made me have to laugh, as I guess technology knows no geographic limits. It is similar when you see a bunch of people dressed in Maya clothing carrying a bundle on their head, and then see them put the load down and climb into the back of a Toyota pickup truck, almost as though the culture has been preserved, and yet not. The people were for the most part very friendly, and while we did have some kids approach us asking for a Quetzal (the equivalent of about .15 in US), we were not approached as much as I remembered from my last visit to Guatemala 10 years ago. I enjoyed being able to offer some money in exchange for some photos, as that seemed to be more of value to me than even the textiles being sold. After shopping a little, we rested for lunch at a restaurant and then parted ways with Hugo of the afternoon and made our way back to the hotel. We spent the rest of our afternoon relaxing in the pool. We could have gone out on the lake in canoes, or hiked around the area, but we were both hot and tired and a few hours of playing in the pool became a great way to finish the day.
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