Sunday, 27 September 2009

The Market of Chichicastemango

Busy times in the market

God only knows how people can pronounce names in this country, what type of name is Chichicastemango???
After a seven and a half hour journey in two different buses I finally made it to what is commonly knows as Chichi, like my mother's old Chihuahua.
The cemetery was bonkers, all these pastels were just plain odd

The town is famous for two things, its market on Thursday and Sunday, and its adherance to a mixture of Catholicism and old Mayan beliefs.
I managed to catch a procession on Saturday night - before it arrived the street was covered with pine boughs and flowers. Later on, men and women carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary came in front of a chuckkajaue, a local prayer leader, who was swinging a censer with incense inside.
Around this part of the country people are extremely religious and private. Taking pictures of locals is frowned upon and strictly forbidden when visiting the church.

The Sunday Market is a mixed bag. Part tourist attraction but largely where locals come to purchase what they can not find in their villages or to sell their surplus goods. The queues to get into the banks on Sunday mornings are enourmous.

Sanghita came down from Antigua and we spent the day walking around. She is the haggle queen. Sometimes I had to walk out, being embarrased at how low her initial offers were.
But then I realized that prices are so inflated for tourists and that a fair price was always reached. As the traders say, the give a price, but you give yours.
Sanghita haggling, I am hiding away, how could she keep that straight face

Only once were we told to go somewhere else.

Tourists are hassled by women trying to sell them locally made cloth, though sometimes I got the feeling that it was manufactured in some big factory far away in China. It was that feeling you get from Chinese acryllic, 'dont-get-too-close-to-a-naked-flame' type of thing.

Have not managed to work out why they wear the cloth like that on their heads

They all follow the same tricks, like giving you a ridiculous price of one dollar then, when you are interested, deny that they said that and tell you that it was twenty one in the hope that you are too embarrased to walk out.....of course, we were never too embarrassed.

Like in Nepal, men and women carry everything around on their heads or in huge bags that they pull with their heads, which must damage their spines.

A lot sadder to watch is the number of children working and begging. Some work in stalls with their families, others try to sell you bits of this and that, and a lot of small children just ask you for a Queztal. It is sometimes so difficult not to encourage this by giving them something, so we bought some fruit.

All in all, it is a must-see in Guatemala that allows you to get a sense of people's day to day lives.

Tomorrow I am off to visit Atitlan Lake, which is meant to be one of the nicest in this part of the world.

I hope my friends like the big sombreros I bought them, and Mel is getting that dress she asked for a couple of blogs ago.......

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