"How much you pay?"
Day 777 (16.05.09)
We´ve had to buy a new holdall to carry souvenirs from a recent spending spree in the lovely Otavalo market in Ecuador and since we´d managed to leave that behind in Antigua for collection in a few weeks we had some space in our backpacks itching to be filled - we really must do something about this market addiction of ours! So we´d made our way to Chichicastenango (thankfully shortened by most to Chichi) as we´d heard the twice weekly market was not to be missed. We would be there for the Sunday session, the other big day being on Thursdays.
After a boat back across Lago Atitlan to Panajachel we'd grabbed a couple of local buses, named chicken buses as they´re often spotted loaded with crates of chickens on the roof, and made our way to Chichi. We found a place to stay with a great view over the town's technicoloured cemetery and waited for our friends Henry and Kate to arrive. We'd had great fun travelling with them for a couple of weeks down in Argentina a few months ago and had managed to arrange to meet up again for a couple of days
Travelling the world gives you the chance to continually meet great people but the much-repeated script of "Where are you from?", "How long have you been travelling?", "Where have you been?", "Where are you going next?" etc. etc. needed to kickstart conversations can get a little wearing after so many days on the road. It's great to meet up with people you know well again and slip straight into conversations and shared jokes so we had a happy evening catching up with Henry and Kate and laughing until we cried.
Day 778 (17.05.09)
We'd seen the stalls being put together and all the stock being moved in the previous night and we were eager to get into shopping mode (market shopping is the only type that Mark is keen to do!). As we weaved through the cobbled lanes of the market on a scouting mission to see what was on offer we were repeatedly told that we needed to buy something to make that particular vendor's first "lucky" sale of the day.
Having picked up some street snacks for breakfast we stood and watched to local people gathered on the steps of the town church
making flower offerings and swinging pots of smoking incense. With the locals in their colourful, elaborately patterned traditional dress it made for a beautiful sight.
We spent the next several hours trawling through the fantastic and bright crafts piled high on the market stalls and regularly chuckling at stall holders efforts to make us part with our Guatemalan quetzales..."This is a market not a boutique, you can barter", "Which one they like?", "How much you pay?" and of course everything was being sold at a "buen precio", a good price.
We bartered to our hearts content and came away with another large haul of gifts and souvenirs which we knew would require some carefully planned packing to squeeze into our rucksacks. By 3pm the market was winding down and there were definitely some excellent bargains to be had at this time as the sellers tried to avoid carrying extra things home again.
We were exhausted after our shopping spree so enjoyed a quiet evening with a homecooked meal and more chatting. We were sorry that we hadn't managed to spend longer with Kate and Henry this time but it had been great fun to catch up.
Day 779 (18.05.09)
Our plans this morning had been to make our way to Coban and then Semuc Champey further north but reports as to the chicken bus journey from Chichi were a little confused (we're noticing a trend here in Guatemala!). It seemed it would take us 4 buses and it was possible that part of the road wasn't open due to an earthquake a few months ago. No-one's version of where we would have to change buses matched up and, as Chrissie wasn't feeling well, we opted to get ourselves back to Antigua for a quiet day and look again into busesfrom there. As it's a more major touristy centre we thought there would be more options. It would also give us a chance to pack our new market buys into the holdall our lovely hostel lady was keeping for us and leave them behind.
We spent a quiet day around the hostel and booked up a shuttle bus for the next day that would take us all the way to Semuc Champey with a door to door service - a little more expensive but far easier if you're a little under the weather!
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