Posted by: ramblinmanjimj | November 1, 2008

Chichicastengo, Guatelama

The Marketplace

From my book…’08/19- (Day 231) At Panajachel. 6 AM temperature was 67 degrees. At 7:30 AM, Bob and I took the Bronco and headed off to Chichicastenago, about 25 miles away. Known to the locals as “ChiChi”. This is an interesting play on words, as “Chi-Chi’s” are also female breasts. As we started “up the hill,” on the road we must climb to leave Panajachel (11 MILES OF VERY STEEP, WINDING, GRADE), we drove through some of the prettiest scenery of the entire trip. ChiChi is an Indian village up in the mountains at an elevation of about 6,300 feet, and its famous for its Thursday and Sunday markets. According to the guidebook, approximately 1,000 people live in town, but 20,000 Indians live in the hills nearby and flood the town for the Thursday and Sunday markets. The ride there was incredible! In all my years of wandering, never have I experienced roads like these! Narrow, very steep, up to 30% grade! That means for every 100 feet you go in a forward direction, you gain or lose 30 feet in elevation. Just picture it! And also, in addition, there were numerous 180-degree hairpin turns! It was wild! Then, once you arrive, words cannot do the town justice! It can only be experienced; but I’ll try to describe it! There are two very old churches about 500 yards apart, facing each other. They may be the most worn, beat-up churches we have seen on this trip! Back to the market. In between the two churches it is VERY crowded, with about 1,000 vendors selling the most brilliantly colored items I’ve ever seen! Every time you turn your head, someone is shoving something in your face, trying to sell you something. The competition is fierce! If while I was there, I did not say, “No, gracias”, 10,000 times, I didn’t say it once! All at the same time, the people for the most part were friendly and polite. I shot two rolls of film while there and got some great pictures! Like I said, it cannot be described, only experienced!

All material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2008
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