Yaxha

On a limestone ridge overlooking Laguna Yaxhá (green-blue water) Yaxhá is a compelling and rewarding Maya site to visit. Of all Guatemala’s ruins, only Tikal and El Mirador surpass the sheer scale and impact of this site that includes forty stelae, numerous altars, soaring temple pyramids and two ball courts. The dense jungle, howler monkeys, toucans and lack of crowds add to the special atmosphere of the place. _1010913 Relatively little is known about the history of Yaxhá, partly due to a relative lack of inscriptions and the fact archeological excavations have only recently begun to free Yaxhá from the grip of the jungle. Most of structures date from the Classic era but there are also Preclassic structures. The sheer size of the city indicates that Yaxhá was undoubtedly an important force in the central Maya region and shares several archeological similarities and close ties with Tikal about 20 miles away.

Ball Court

George and Bill climbed to the top of this temple and were rewarded with a 360 degree view of the surrounding jungle and the Laguna Yaxhá.  Climbing up was not easy but it was much easier than coming down the steep uneven steps.  The rest of us were happy to watch from below.

  _1010942

 Laguna Yaxhá

_1010938   _1010934

 Trogon

Yaxhá

P1230662

Ceiba Tree

As we drive out of the park we stop at a dwelling and immediately kids coming running out. The two-room dwelling has thatched roof, dirt floor, sides are partially open to the elements and there are no doors. Hammocks swing from the support posts, there is a scrawny dog running about, a chicken and green parrot. The family lives a real hand-to-mouth existence eating mostly what the father is able to hunt. In the yard sits a cage with dinner perhaps, a large constrictor and when I say large I mean long, it did not look like it had eaten recently. The father also earns a little money from his woodcarving; the son goes to show us some carved pieces and as he opens the cloth covering them a scorpion darts out.   I bought a set of salad tongs.

P1230741

Green Parrot

Boa and Scorpion

P1230739

Tummy Time

One member of our group, a biologist notices a skull that peaks his interest; it is a jaguar skull, again probably providing food for the family or perhaps the father sold it, it is hard to tell. At any rate he wanted to purchase it and the son sold it to him. How will he get it back into the states is what most of us wonder but he doesn’t seem concerned.   P1230738 We thanked the kids and returned to the van; Hector reached into his pack and pulled out a bag of what looked like what we know as Chex mix with pretzels, nuts and chex. As he went to the door and held up the bag the youngest girl’s face lit up with a smile and she jumped with excitement. He motioned for one of them to come down to get the bag of treats and told them to be sure and share. About that time someone noticed a police car parked behind the van, had we done something wrong or were they also stopping to see this family? As we pulled away so did the police car. There was a little buzzing amongst us about why they were following us and then finally we asked Hector about it and he said not to worry. By the time we reached the paved road again they were still following us, of course there was no other road so maybe they were just going the same way. I held that thought until we stopped at a nearby restaurant for lunch and they also pulled in. Finally Hector confessed that OAT had hired them to get us safely to the Belize border. Apparently there are problems in this area on occasion with highway bandits so we all settled down to enjoy lunch as did they, at another table. We sent them some extra desserts in hopes of garnering goodwill. They remained our shadows until we neared the border at which point they turned around and returned to their normal duty. The border crossing was pretty easy, the only oddity was that the van had to be completely emptied of all luggage and we each had to pay $1 to the porters who unloaded it. It was then inspected as we walked through immigration and customs and were all reunited on the other side . . . welcome to Belize.

Border crossing looking more like a car wash than a checkpoint.

There is definitely more of a Caribbean feel once we cross the border. Belize City and the Caribbean is still a 2 hour drive. I actually begin to recognize a couple of places along the way that I visited in the past; a hand crank car ferry across the river near Xuantunich is still one car and hand cranked. The little town of San Ignacio where I saw an exhibit of Mayan artifacts laid out on plywood and sawhorses in an open sided arena, one guard. I have been to Belize City twice before and could not wait to leave both times; it has not changed. Belize City is not particularly attractive even though it is on the Caribbean and is not a very pleasant place due to problems with drug trafficking. Most visitors come to Belize for the diving and snorkeling so fly in and out of the city to the cays in the same day. We will be here just two nights in order to visit our last Mayan site, Lamanai.

Advertisements

Santa Elena and Tikal

Arriving in the dark last night we didn’t really get to see the setting of our hotel but when we came down at breakfast we felt that we had been transported to the Caribbean, a very different feel here in Santa Elena.

P1230494

Massage by the lake anyone?

IMG_7413

View from the upper deck

After breakfast we head to the Mayan city of Tikal, about an hour drive north and not far from the border with Belize.  From the van I snapped pictures of some caution signs leading into the park, missed the monkey sign.

 So many signs, so many restrictions, at the entrance they should have had one that said . . . We hope you enjoy your visit!

Have a nice visit!

Have a nice visit!

Tikal is magnificent, a 1,800-year-old complex considered one of the most important urban centers of its time.  The expansive site is surrounded by jungle with 3,000 structures including temples, pyramids, tombs, palaces, ball courts and terraces.  The tallest temples rise above the canopy.  At its peak Tikal was home to an estimated 100,000 Maya.

With a guide we toured the main area of the park visiting the Great Plaza, Temple of the Jaguar, Tomb of the Mayan ruler Moon Double Comb, Plaza of the Seven Temples, an unusual triple ball court and El Mundo Perdido “Lost World” where 38 structures surround a central pyramid.  Awesome!

Nature will prevail

Nature will prevail

Pay attention

Pay attention

 

P1230577

_1010852

_1010833

_1010814

_1010802

The top of this temple, encased by scaffolding, had recently been damaged by a lightening strike.

_1010853

We spent nearly the entire day here, climbing a couple of the temples for dizzying 360-degree views high above the canopy.

_1010882

_1010947

The jungle surrounding Tikal is home to a variety of flora and fauna, exotic flowers and birds, jaguar, wild turkeys, snakes, coati, spider monkeys and the raucous howler monkeys to name a few

Ceiba "Tree of Life"

Ceiba “Tree of Life”

Flycatchers

Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

Toucan

Toucan

Coati

Coati

We returned to the hotel and found ourselves sitting on the deck overlooking a gorgeous sunset, enjoying a glass of wine and loving in the warm breeze; a beautiful end to another great day.

IMG_7440

No one was very hungry but Hector suggested a pupuseria for a light dinner and that got our attention.  He knew a family that had had a restaurant across the street from the hotel.  On inquiring he found they had moved but no problem . . . it was just a few blocks but pouring rain by this time.  A few of us were up for pupusas so we climbed into a couple of tuk tuks and headed out in the dark and the rain through back streets, totally turned around but were delivered to a home in a not so quiet neighborhood somewhere in Santa Elena.  There were a couple of tables and a grill in front of the home and a canopy covering the area.  Hector went inside to make sure this was the right place, it was.  Across the street was another home restaurant with music blaring at over 100 dB, apparently to “attract” customers.  Despite the noise we had a great time, the pupusas were superb and the beer cold, what more could you ask for

IMG_7446

Pupuseria

 

When we were ready to go back to the hotel Hector called for a tuk tuk to pick us up . . . oops, they stop running at 7 p.m. on Sundays.  We look at each other, the dark street and the heavy rain; we have no idea where we are and then Hector disappears into the house for a couple of minutes and returns saying no problem, the husband will be happy to take us back to the hotel in his jeep but he will have to make two trips.  The daughters bring out rugs to put in the back and we climb in the back.  The husband is very nice, speaks a little English and we enjoy his company on the ride back and learn that he had lived in Connecticut for a few years before he was married working for a landscaper.  At the hotel, we thank him for his kindness and pay him what we would have paid the tuk tuk ($1 each).  He was very gracious and we were very grateful then off he went to retrieve the other three members of our group.

 

Sumpango

Hector has another surprise for us today, a return visit to Sumpango for “dios de los muertos”, the day families gather at the cemetery to honor and pray for loved ones.

P1230358

 

Families streaming into the cemetery

Streaming into the cemetery

 

_1010669

Arriving with flowers

Family members, young and old, are busy clearing plots of debris, mounding dirt over the graves, applying a white powder or paint and long pine needles to be topped with flowers and wreaths.  It is a very touching to see the love and thought that goes into this ritual.

Kids are playing or helping decorate the graves, they are comfortable here in the cemetery, sitting or standing on graves, flying kites off of the higher tombs. The Mayan belief is that kites represent a link between heaven and earth.

 

Elegant

Elegant

Patiently waiting

Patiently waiting

P1230369

Along the roads leading to the cemetery food vendors were busy preparing scrumptious looking food for the hungry.

_1010679

Fresh fruit juices

This was, by far, Hector’s best surprise but he wasn’t done with us quite yet.  From the cemetery we joined the crowd hiking up a very steep hill, not really knowing what to expect.

At the top of the hill we walked onto an enormous open field filled with tall bamboo poles and giant kites some over 10 feet in width and height.  The kite frames were made of bamboo and the kites themselves made of tissue paper, designs are colorful, incredibly intricate and often hold a political message.

_1010703

So many photo ops

_1010699

So many kites

 

_1010701

So many people

 

P1230446

Unique designs

 

_1010687

Colorful designs

Sumpango is one of three cities in Guatemala that host a kite festival and I feel so lucky to be for this incredible sight. There is excitement in the air, music, dancing, food and general celebration. The giant kites are raised for all to admire while people fly small colorful kites waiting for dusk when the giants will take to the air.   Sadly we won’t be able to stay to see the giant kites fly but I would not have missed seeing this for the world –  incredible!

Time to leave and we pass by the long line of food vendors to rejoin our group and my goodness the colorful foods tempt us while the tantalizing aromas fill the air, it all looks so good!

P1230473

Grilled delights

 

_1010748

 

_1010766

Grilled corn

Beautiful foods simply prepared makes me so hungry!

Back in the van we leave Sumpango and re-enter the highway only to be met with a traffic jam that looks like I-5 at rush hour.  Traffic is stopped and parked cars line both sides of the road on.  People are walking along the edges; did I mention this is the Pan-American Highway?  We are forced to go in the opposite direction of where we want to be until Oscar convinces a police officer that we are not going to Sumpango but need to reach Guatemala City for a late afternoon flight.   The officer halts traffic allowing Oscar to make a U-turn over the median, can’t see that happening on I-5.

Finally we are headed in the right direction.

Turned around heading in the right direction

Turned around heading in the right direction

We have an uneventful flight to Flores, except for the take off.  I am looking out the window at the propeller and as we begin to taxi down the runway I am acutely aware that the propeller on my side is not turning, the propeller on the other side is doing its job, why isn’t mine?  Now, I am not a nervous flyer but aren’t they both supposed to be turning?  As we turn to take off it is still idle, this can’t be good and I am getting a bit concerned as we pick up speed.

The idle propeller

The idle propeller

Finally!  It kicks in and we are off, feeling somewhat reassured that this is all normal . . . is it?

We arrive in Flores after dark so because of the late hour we head straight to dinner – did I even have lunch today, don’t remember?

The restaurant was busy, on the water with open sides and thatch roof; we entertained ourselves feeding the fish who knew where to come for a handout. Dinner was good and we were actually pretty hungry. By the time we reached the hotel our luggage had been delivered to the room and it wasn’t long before we fell into bed . . .  another fantastic day.  My dreams were filled with color.

Antigua

Station of the Cross

Station of the Cross

This morning, we head out to more fully explore Antigua’s narrow cobblestone streets  and churches. From our hotel on Calle de Pasos (street of the steps) we can begin a walking route that is the site of processions during religious celebrations.  The route includes a series of 13 small buildings with vaulted ceilings depicting the Stations of the Cross, Number I starts from San Francisco, and XIII ends at the El Calvario Church (Calvary Church). All stations are identical in form but the last three located inside the El Calvario Church have additional decorations and a baroque tinge.

Iglesia de San Francisco
_1010531

Ruinas del los Remedios

Antigua has no shortage of churches; some in ruins with collapsed roofs and crumbling walls, evidence of the damaging earthquakes in this region.   Here are a few.

Iglesia de Carmen

P1230194

La Ermita de la Santa Cruz

P1230045

Ruinas San Jose el Viejo

La Merced

Between 1542 and 1666, the Dominican order built one of the largest, richest and most important convents in the colonial city; however, during the 1773 earthquake, both the convent and church were destroyed and the buildings were looted for construction material. The site was acquired as a private residence in 1970 by an American archaeologist, who performed extensive excavations before it was taken over by the Casa Santo Domingo Hotel.  The hotel imaginatively restored it for visitors and the beautiful grounds include the picturesque ruined monastery church, the adjacent cloister with a replica of the original fountain, workshops, courtyards and beautiful gardens.

P1230237

Casa Santo Domingo

Casa Santo Domingo Grounds

Casa Santo Domingo Gardens

After all that church seeing it was time for lunch and we found an eclectic little place with the best quesadillas I’ve ever had!

Tretto Caffe

More walking, walking, walking and near the bus terminal we found San Jeronimo.  I had seen a glimpse of some ruins the day we rode the chicken bus to Jocotenango but didn’t really know what it was.

This little oasis of tranquility was began in 1739, a small church and school dedicated to St. Jerome and completed in 1759.  While it did not last long as a school it did serve as a customs house, barracks and stables. After the 1773 earthquake, it was abandoned, inhabited only by families who moved in without the permission of the authorities. In the 1800’s it was a tannery and a granary in the 1930’s before being restored. Today, it’s a peaceful haven in a bustling area of town. The maze of fallen masonry is beautifully contrasted with flowering weeds cascading from the crevices between stones; n the background is Agua Volcano.

_1010622

San Jeronimo

San Jeronimo Grounds

San Jeronimo Flowers

It was quite a hike back to the hotel and by the time we reached the main plaza street entertainers were out and the children dressed in their Halloween costumes were beginning to appear.


We were ready for happy hour but it was raining by the time we returned so our rooftop perch was not desirable but we all managed to fit into our little room.

Oh my, oh my and another wonderful day, I love Antigua!

Last Day of School

We have seen the colorful painted school buses a.k.a. chicken buses all through our travels; they are typically jammed with people and merchandise piled on top; this morning we ride one into Jocotenango, “sin pollos”.

Chicken Bus

Chicken Bus

 

Antigua’s “transit center” is near the market and early in the morning it is a chaotic scene with people scurrying to find their bus, loaded buses pulling forward or backing up, narrowly missing one another, throw in a few pedestrians and bicycles and my advice – be alert.

 

Transit Center

Transit Center

 

In Jocotenango we visit a school located on land leased from a large coffee plantation; across from the rather dreary entrance is a beautiful grassy field where horses graze, quite beautiful.

_1010478

 

The noise and energy levels are high, this is the last day of school and the kids are at recess when we enter.   The students come from a very poor hillside farming community, about a 45-minute walk away. Their homes have no running water, have dirt floors – I can only imagine what that might be like during Guatemala’s long rainy season.

The school serves about 500 children, grades 1-12 and a few graduates attending university who return here in the evenings to use the computers.  Without support these children would not be in school.  While education is free students still have top pay for books and supplies, an extra cost many families just cannot afford.  The kids also receive vitamins, two nutritious meals and showers in addition to an education.  While they are lucky to be here it still breaks my heart to know that even with this step up their futures are still very uncertain.  Our own children and grandchildren have no idea how difficult life can be.

George and I go into a 2nd grade classroom where the teacher introduces us and then divides her class into groups; we each join a group, on the floor.  George’s group of boys is working on a puzzle and my group of girls is working with flash cards, practicing their English.  They are familiar with the cards and we quickly invent a game, counting and then matching like items, all in English and with lots of giggles.

P1230091

I look over and see that George is patiently working a puzzle with them.  The children are engaged and receptive as you would expect 7 year olds to be, they are adorable.   After about 40 minutes their attention spans drift off and it is time for us to go.

P1230092

 

P1230096

No Bullying

 

It was interesting to me to see the difference between this school and the one in Guatemala City; the first with a 1.6 million dollar annual budget and this one with about one-half million dollar annual budget, both serving between 400-600 children.  I can’t say enough good things about the young people who work and volunteer here, they make such a huge difference in the lives of these children and emerge changed themselves.

 

Shifting gears . . . from Jocotenango we drive a short distance to San Felipe to visit the workshop of artist, Cruz Enrique Espana, renowned for his ceramic birds.  The son of potters, he taught himself how to work with clay at the age of 6.  He begins with the clay gathered at the traditional site of El Tejar, Chimaltenango and as we watch he deftly molded the perfect likeness of a bird in a matter of minutes.  To complete the process the bird are baked and then painted with bright acrylic paints.

P1230109

His small studio is filled with his beautiful creations, photos and posters from exhibitions all over the world.  We brought home a few small birds for the Christmas tree.

P1230110

Workbench

 

 

P1230113

 

Continuing on, Hector stops in front of a nearby market and explains that we are going on a treasure hunt – we were each given some money and a piece of paper with the name of a product written on it in Spanish.  Our mission is to go into the market, find the item and purchase it for the family who will be providing our lunch this afternoon.   The vendors do not speak English.

This was a fun exercise, forcing everyone out of his or her comfort zone just a little, interacting with vendors who did not speak English but were more than helpful, sometimes taking us around to another stall if they did not have what we were looking for; everyone emerged from the market with their item and Hector explained what each item was and how it would be used in preparation of the lunch.  We had things like dried hibiscus to make a tea-like drink, kindling for the cooking fire, cilantro for the soup and a white powder to make a nutritious probiotic drink among other things.

One more stop before lunch to pick up Andy, Hector’s 10-year-old grandson; we had been pestering Hector about meeting his family so now that the school term has ended he arranged for Andy to join for lunch and he is adorable.

Hector and Andy

Hector and Andy

The host, an evangelical minister, and his family are raising money to build a new church by preparing and serving meals on Sundays after church.   We greet the family, present them with our contributions from the market and are seated at tables set in the courtyard while the kids play in the courtyard; Andy get the nod from Hector and quickly joins in.

P1230121

Wild Child

 

Don't get in their way!

Don’t get in their way!

The first course was an amazing soup and the fun thing was the ingredients were all beautifully displayed in baskets on the buffet table.  Now we only need to figure out the proportions.

 

At the end of the meal the wife went inside for a minute and came back with a beautiful little bundle of joy, her granddaughter just a couple of months old, so sweet.

La Niña

La Niña

 

WOW, such a fun day but wait, there’s more . . .  Valhalla farm on the outskirts of Antigua raises macadamia trees, the nuts are harvested and used in food, cosmetics, and a variety of organic products. http://www.exvalhalla.com/index.htm

The owner, Lorenzo Gottschamer, a 74-year-old retired fireman for northern California greets us.  As he talks about his farm he shows his passion for the environment, his farm and his dream to help reverse global warming through the development of sustainable agriculture and education.  He has developed an ungrafted Macadamia tree capable of surviving in the changing environmental conditions and is educating indigenous communities about the nutritional benefits of growing these in their backyards, showing them how to prune them as a source of firewood and as an alternative to slash and burn agriculture.

IMG_7320

Sorry, no photos except for this one of the outdoor restroom,  too busy have arms and legs massaged with oils, facials were also offered, very nice.

We returned to Antigua with time for a little time to explore before happy hour and dinner.  Another incredible day.

 

Antigua

Waterfall above Panajachel

_1010414

Leaving Panajachel we take one last look at the gorgeous Lake Atitlan

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.

P1220995

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.

P1230009

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.

IMG_7288

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.

P1230028

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.

Roof top terrace

Roof top terrace

_1010465

Hotel Courtyard

Lake Atitlan, Santiago & San Antonio Palopo

This morning we walked down to the shore of beautiful Lake Atitlán; it was overcast so our photos will not do it justice but this magnificent lake is encircled by three towering volcanoes (San Pedro, Toliman, and Atitlán) and when waters are calm they reflect in its azure waters. With a depth of more than 1,000 feet, it is the deepest lake in Central America, formed by a powerful volcanic explosion more than 85,000 years ago.

Leaving Panajachel

Leaving Panajachel

 

No road rings Lake Atitlán so we traveled by boat to the lakeside village of Santiago.

 

P1220747

 

Vendors swarmed us before we are even off the dock. “Hey lady, hey lady you want to buy, you buy from me, maybe later? I remember you, maybe later?”  They would not leave us alone as we walked through the village.

 

The Vendors

The Vendors

 

Finally, Hector saved us by herding us all into the back of a pick-up truck, we couldn’t get in fast enough even though we had to stand holding onto a metal frame as the “taxi” bumped its way up a very steep side street to near the top of the village where we piled out – QUIET – at last, no more vendors!

 

All Aboard!

All Aboard!

 

We stopped at the entrance to an alley.  Walking a little way into the dark alleyway we stopped in front of a home where Hector spoke to someone inside. It was another brotherhood home; we could peek in an open window where another Mayan brotherhood ceremony was taking place inside.  Again, lit candles and offerings reminiscent of the brotherhood site we had seen near Panajachel yesterday surround the statue of Maximón, a dapper, gentleman in a black suit covered with textiles and a couple of sombreros and smoking a cigarette.  More on Maximón in the Travelpod blog.

 

 

 

As we watched the ceremony I noticed a rather high pile of crates with empty bottles of rum or Quetzalteca grain alcohol, apparently offerings from supplicants.  In fact, as we watched the shaman, on more than one occasion, removed the cigar from Maximón’s mouth and poured a drink of rum into his mouth . . . where did it go?

 

P1220792

 

We emerged from the dark alley onto the street to continue our walk down hill toward the docks, still time for shopping.  It isn’t very long before our vendors reappear and shadow us literally until the boat pulls away from the dock. Telling them NO gracias doesn’t work, saying NO doesn’t work, buying something from them doesn’t work, pretending they do not exist doesn’t work. Grrrrrrr

 

The church in Santiago is rather plain on the outside but oh my, set foot inside and behold; it is decorated for the upcoming All Saint’s day with colorful blue pieces of cloth draped from the ceiling, it is quite stunning.  All along the sides of the church sit colorful statues of the saints.

Continuing down toward the water through the main plaza and market we still have time to browse through the shops along the way, gorgeous textiles and huipils, the traditional embroidered blouses worn by Mayan women. It was a feast of color.

We met the rest of the group back near the boat dock where they had stopped for a cold beverage and were surrounded by the young vendors who followed us back to the boat still insisting we buy.  The village is interesting but I wouldn’t go back because of in your face, non-stop harassment by some of the vendors and children pushing their textiles and trinkets.

 

San Antonio Palopo

San Antonio Palopo

We continued by boat to the village of San Antonio Palopo, a small settlement lined with adobe homes where we had lunch at a family run second floor restaurant overlooking the lake, a large covered patio with an unobstructed view down the lake.

_1010393

Under the restaurant, at street level, a shop of sorts with more textiles and a woman demonstrating the back strap loom and I purchased a table runner from her but not before Hector talked me into modeling the traditional clothing.  The young lady helped me into a blouse then literally wrapped me up into one of their skirts until I could hardly breathe and she tied my hair with different piece of cloth.   First impression was of how heavy and hot these clothes were but they are worn all the time in this region, at home, in the villages and to work the fields.  I would die of heat stroke if I had to wear these for more than a few minutes and I did need help getting out of the outfit.

The van met us in San Antonio Palopo and we returned to Panajachel along the lakeside road, traveling through another quiet village.   Back in Panajachel we had time to explore before dark and wandered the main street, down to the lakeshore and a few of the back streets.  This is a very busy little place and it isn’t even high tourist season yet.

We were to have dinner on our own tonight but we have all become quite attached to one another, just a great group of people.  Hector invited us to join him for dinner and so some of us did and it was so much fun.  He took us a few blocks out of the main tourist area to a little bar with only a few tables but enough room for us. We were delighted, the menu . . .  pupusas, everyone’s favorite by now so cervezas and pupusas, lots of laughs and even Oscar, our driver, joined us for a very fun evening.

IMG_7270