What, not another
As promised the
shuttle bus collected us and we set out for Chichicastenango and THE
We were dropped off
outside the hotel de San Thomas so we dropped in for a quick libation, before
hitting the market. Well, Roger was really suffering from bad prawns from the
Circus Bar the night before so for libation, read urgent head call, tea and
Once again the hotel
was built around a beautiful courtyard,
filled with beautiful colours of all the flowers, many of which were the same as
you would find in an English garden, apart from a huge cactus-like tree with
thorns that made your eyes water just looking at them.
Refreshed, we headed out to the
It is, I believe, the biggest market in
Guatemala, with people coming from
all over the region to sell their wares.
As with most Central
American markets, it is very colourful. It was lovely to see all the different
variations of the traditional costumes.
Each area has its own
particular style of clothing and weave of fabric, not terribly flattering, but
functional and colourful.
I think we were both ‘marketed out’ if truth
were told, but one has to at least “see” Chichi. If you don’t like markets, then
there is very little else to see and do in Chichi.
But I have to say the
quality of the craftsmanship is excellent, beautiful embroidery and weaving and
the most inventive improvisations you can imagine.
Another thing that impresses me
about the people selling in the market, they, as in Mexico,
didn’t just sit there selling.
No they were sitting
there making the items to sell.
Having just made a
purchase (can’t disclose what it is as it is a gift and they might be reading
this blog) and haggled the price down by the usual and accepted 40-50%,
we sought shelter from the
heat of the midday sun in a little café. As I sipped on my lemonade (I must
confess to being addicted to latin lemonade) I noticed a little woman sitting at
her stall crocheting.
I went over to have a look
and she invited me to sit and join her.
Despite my limited
Spanish and her total lack of English we spent a good 15 minutes
Her name was Tomasa.
I was very surprised when she told me she was only a year older than I
She had left school
after the second year of elementary (I think that is equivalent to our junior
school) and had had no real education.
By the time she was
31 she’d had 9 children!!!! It made me realise just how lucky I am. Not just
because I am able to travel the world, but that I was born into a world where I
had an education and a chance to make some security for my future rather than
having to work for the rest of my life (and I don’t mean just until I was 60!)
and then have to rely on my children (just as well in my case).
We talked about the
differences between our cultures, which considering the language barrier, was
I bought one of the
hats she was crocheting and went back to join Roger in the
She continued her
work, smiling across at me from time to time. It was lovely to be able to meet
someone from Guatemala and talk about their lives
and learn more about how they lived.
It was also very
humbling. She didn’t complain about her lot, it was just a statement of how
things were. She was not like so many people I have met in recent years, who
expect the government to support them and hold out their hands for the handouts,
instead of taking responsibility for themselves.
Before we left I went
to say goodbye to her and she said she would always consider me a friend and she
hoped to see me if I ever came back, she then made a gift of another hat she had
made. I couldn’t refuse the gift as it would have been an insult, but at the
same time I felt guilty, humbled and tearful as I accepted it.
As I walked away,
tears welled in my eyes, here was a woman who had comparatively nothing, giving
me something that she could sell to feed herself.
It really touched me
deep inside and I shall remember Tomasa for a very long time. For me, she made
Chichi very special.