The market of Chichicastenango is one of the main attractions for tourists visiting Guatemala´s Highlands. (more…)
Archive for the ‘El Quiché’ Category
Caves have been sacred for Mayans since ancestral times.
Caves are common on Guatemala´s low lands, on the karstic soils of the North and these caves have been ceremonial centers of pilgrimage. Caves as those of Nach Tunich, according to archaeological evidence, has evidence of continuous offerings such as clay figurines or other ceramics for thousands of years.
The caves of Q´umarkaj were carved into the ground by the builders of this ancient Mayan City and to this day, they are used to performed Mayan Ceremonies and candle offerings are often found at the deepest chambers of the caves.
During tge colonization of the Americas, spaniards would use brutal techniques to “save” souls of Mayan infidels and convert them to Christianity. (more…)
The City was the capital of the K’iche’ people and one of the most powerful states in Guatemala upon the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. (more…)
I won’t sin of sugarcoating anything! So here it is, a brief commentary of a two day trip to Northern Guatemala. I arrived at noon at Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, a small town on the northern-most area of Alta Verapaz. I have been to this town a few times before, just as a transit point. I get here with a big appetite and started looking for a decent place to eat regional food. I asked a couple of people and I was suggested to try a fried chicken place (chain restaurant headquartered in Guatemala City), very regional right! Another of the suggestions was a Cevicheria, a place where ceviches are their specialty. Ceviche at a town very far from a coastal area, any ocean, lake or mayor river, I think that’s a sin. I ended up ordering some of that fried chicken. Personally I find nothing interesting here to photograph, after walking the town streets, I put away my camera and in fact, did not take one single photo here. After lunch, I headed to Playa Grande, a town known by many because it was heavily contested by warring sides during our civil war. The town was and still is the headquarters of the regional Guatemalan Army and the guerrilla forces never got to control the town. Ironically: after the signing of the peace accords, Guatemalan guerrilla forces became a political party, and now they have their regional headquarters based in Playa Grande, not more than 5 blocks from the imposing Guatemalan Army military base. I don’t have much positive to say about these two towns. Their food offering is mediocre, messy streets are the norm, no dominant architectural style, no parks (decent ones) or leisure areas, nothing impressive or appealing at plain view. They are merely disorganized supply and commerce centers for locals. People are great tough! Very friendly and welcoming and they make the best of what they got. I just hope they never read what I have to say about their towns! Food here is an aberration (I’m referring to what’s available to the traveler) ! Unless, unless you get invited to a local’s house to eat some of what they eat at home! Under an scorching heat, I get invited to a local’s house. They offered me a pitcher of freshly made lemonade. Delicious! I’m presented with a plate with a serving of cheese and cream, a separate bowl of black beans and another bowl of hot sauce and some tortillas. Wow! I exclaim to my self! I am a cheese lover, on my last trip to Europe, I brought back at least 5 pounds of cheeses from Northern France and the Netherlands. Since I move back to Guatemala, I’ve failed to find any cheese that would make me sigh. I had a small bite of this cheese and I immediately fell in love! “Lo acabamos de hacer”, we just made it, they tell me and out of the porch they point at the cows the milk came from. Soft, not salted like all regional cheese you find in Guatemala, fresh, with a some character, simply delicious. The cream was exquisite as-well, made fresh everyday at the house. I put some of those black beans on my plate and added some of that spicy sauce to them. Wow! I tell myself once again. It is a spicy sauce made with onions, chiltepes, and loroco and some other herbs, a combination I had never seen. Very impressed once again! Is it a regional style sauce I asked them. No, from here no. It happens that this family migrated from the Eastern region of the country, and that’s the way they make hot sauce where they come from. If it wasn’t for that meal I would have not survived! Kite Season. It is kite season here in Guatemala and I found these children flying their kites at a park in Playa Grande. Laguna Lachuá The entrance to Laguna Lachuá is on the road we had to travel back from Playa Grande to Coban. it was around 5pm when we reached the entrance. We stopped and asked if we can go in. No, you can’t, the park closes at 2 and people have to be out by 4, a park ranger tells us. We talked our way in! You have to go fast he tells us, because it is getting dark. Well, I had flashlights, so darkness wasn’t an issue for us, but we decided to go to the lagoon fast. The lagoon is 4 kilometers from the entrance; we ran top speed to the lagoon. The area is beautiful, clean and it is one of the few wild life sanctuaries in the country. In fact, we heard howler monkeys across the lagoon and when we ran back to the entrance we heard a small troop close to the road. While talking to a local attending a small tienda, he tells me they have even seen jaguars in the area. Cobán, Alta Verapaz Cobán is a city you can easily fall in love with. One advice tough: Make sure you book a hotel room early or you might spend two hours driving around finding no vacancy and of course running out of fuel in your vehicle. El Calvario is a Christian church ontop of a hill in the City of Cobán. Well, the site is sacred to mayan people too. I spend no more than ten minutes on the summit and while I was there, there were four Mayan ceremonies under way. The prayers were spoken in a Mayan language, I could not understand much, except for a few words “cardamomo pantiosh” thanks for the cardamon. I assume they were blessing their crops, “ajau ajpu” Hunter God/Lord. I guess I have to work on my Mayan language skills. To end the trip, we stopped at a restaurant on the side of the road. I always try different foods, so I ordered something from the menu I had not seen before: Salchichon Ahumado, smoked salchichon. Oh man, no better way to leave the region than eating that salchichon with fresh tortillas and black beans. If you ever travel to Cobán, you have to try that, trust me, you’ll love it.
Chichicastenango (Quiché) is the trading hub for the Guatemalan Highlands, therefore visiting their Thursday or Sunday markets is a must if you find yourself in Guatemala. The best local produce, a pair of rubber flip-flops, the latest Hollywood production in DVD, a hand-woven Mayan outfit; they have it.
Due to this role Chichi has, many consider it the center of contemporary Mayan culture. You can’t avoid feeling slightly surreal in place where within the same glimpse you can spot a Blackberry and a parishioner burning copal (ceremonial incense) on the Santo Tomás Church’s doorstep. K’iche’ and Catholic hybrid traditions, the young and the old, the new technology and the millenial traditions, it all converges in this one timeless place.
Photo and Text by guest contributor: Alejando Echeverria
The market in Chichicastenango, Guatemala is quite an event. Lots of crafts, lots of people, lots of tourists, and you’ll get pushed around if you obstruct the flow.
If you still had any doubts about how colorful Guatemala can be, with this photograph you should be 100% convinced.