Welcome to our family blog!

We began in September 2010 by traveling a portion of the Camino de Santiago, the ancient pilgrimage route that leads to the tomb of Saint James in Santiago, Galicia, in the northwestern corner of Spain. The name of our blog is inspired by the camino, and we'll have many stories (cuentos) to tell! We spent 2010-2011 on an intentional international journey, living and working in Spanish-speaking countries. Since then, we are immersed back in our lives at home but will report on occasional openings and discoveries. Please join us!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Sunday market in Chichicastenango

Sunday is the big market day in Chichicastenango. There are market stalls that line and actually fill the streets, leaving only a narrow corridor for customers. Textile sellers marketing mainly to tourists are in abundance, along with sellers of the ubiquitous used clothing, pots and pans, electronics, fragrant tropical fruits and everything else imaginable. There is an indoors commercial center that is packed with fruit and vegetable sellers. We went upstairs and looked down on the crowd. A riot of colors and activity. In this part of Guatemala, almost all the women and some of the men wear brilliant homemade woven cloth. The designs are so creative and gorgeous.
We bought very little, but wandered around for the day in Chichi. We visited the Catholic Church on the main square, which incorporates Mayan tradition in a very organic way. There are colorful Mayan statues with fresh flowers, feathers and other decorations all down the nave of the church. It is a custom to place votive candles in specific categories: families, elders of the church, etc. Many candles were burning. Later, we walked up the nearby hill where a Mayan ceremony was underway. Attended by only one family with some Guatemalan spectators a ways off, there was a corn circle, a fire pit, and a shaman giving incantations. Though we tried to be inconspicuous, we were cordially invited to observe from up close.
What I notice most about women in rural Guatemala is that they seem to be always carrying heavy things. From a young age the girls are trained: girls as young as eight carry their younger siblings on their backs, girls haul firewood with forehead straps, girls help their mothers to cart merchandise to market and set it up. Men, when they are working, also carry preposterously heavy loads: men in the marketplace sometimes carry up to three huge crates of fruit, which tower over their heads. People in the villages are the beasts of burden, as we did not see any donkeys or horses sharing the load.

Knives for sale in the market are shaped like guns, like killing instruments. They are hard to look at given the news that shouts out from the newspaper each day:  a nurse killed on her way home from work, stuffed into a car trunk. She merits a short paragraph, with not even any speculation about the killer, his motivation, or any murder investigation. Guatemala may be one of the most beautiful countries in the world, yet tragically one of the most violent.

1 comment:

  1. I love that cloth SO much. Glad you got a new place to live. Hugs, Edith