Waterfall above Panajachel
Leaving Panajachel we take one last look at the gorgeous Lake Atitlan
Next stop is the town of Solola to visit the market, an unforgettable experience. Here the residents, mostly Mayan, still wear their traditional clothes, women traditional huipil with red stripes, the dark-blue corte (skirt) with embroidered stripes of many colors, a waist band and the Tzute or shawl. The men wear a white shirt and a wool jacket with striped trousers with black wool over pants, waistband, apron and tzute, black felt or straw hat, wool shoulder bag (moral) and leather sandals.
Folks come from all over the area to do their weekly shopping here; small boats and canoes loaded with local Indians arrive in Panajachel, with all sorts of products from the neighboring villages of the lake and then begin their journey uphill to sell their products in Solola’s market. It is a bustling place, trucks pull into the market loaded with potatoes or other crops and prices are negotiated inside the building before the unloading of the trucks begins.
This is a very busy market, not just with vendors and fast-paced shoppers but you also have to watch out for the trucks pulling in and out, constant hustle bustle.
Our senses overstimulated from all of the colors, smells, sounds and activity of the market we continue on toward Antigua through the lush Guatemalan countryside enjoying the quiet until we reach our next stop, the little town of Pastores, known for hand-made boots.
At first glance Pastores looks like any other Guatemalan village with quiet streets, stray dogs, and shops covered with security bars. The delights are behind those bars, shop after shop of boot makers. The doorways are painted with huge signs exclaiming “Se Vende Botas”. This is where you want to come if you are looking for boots, any kind of boot but especially cowboy boots. The street is lined with shops selling men’s, women’s, children’s pink, black, white, purple, short, tall, snake skin, pointy toe, rounded toe, square toe, high heel, low heel, you name it and it is here.
Our last stop before entering Antigua was Jocotenango, home of our guide, Hector. He shows us where he grew up and where members of his family still live and then we visited his beautiful church, on this day displaying a large rosary at the entrance.
And at last, beautiful Antigua, founded in 1543 it served as the seat of Spain’s colonial government until the Spanish Crown ordered its relocation to the site of what is now Guatemala City in 1776.
I am excited because before going to our hotel we are going to visit a jade museum and shop where craftsmen design and make jewelry; this is the same shop that I visited on my last trip to Antigua. On this visit we are treated to a private tour along with the history of jade and the enduring significance of jade in Mayan culture, excavated at many of the ruins we visit it has long been coveted by Mayan nobility as a symbol of fertility, luck, and power. I wasn’t shy when volunteers were sought to model some of the necklaces.
Leaving Casa Jade with wallets a bit lighter we walked to our hotel, a nice opportunity to become oriented with the main plaza and side streets en route. We check in to our hotel late this afternoon, and have some free time to make a few discoveries on our before regrouping for happy hour on the rooftop terrace at the hotel.