The Great Adventure Of 2013 continues! Last post I was still in Guatemala City. Yesterday my guide picked me up in Guatemala City. His name is Julio. He is an incredible dude. I was supposed to have a shared ride and guide, but tourism is very slow here so it is just Julio and I. He is spending the next few days with me until I go back to Guatemala City for my flight to Tikal.
What can I say about Julio? He is 75 and today is his birthday! Julio arrived at my hotel in G.C. yesterday and we drove to Chichicastenango. Chichicastenango is a small town on a plateau in the mountains. The drive took about 3.5 hours with stops on the way. During the drive I learned all about Julio's life. He has many stories to tell and I loved listening to them all. I think, maybe the best one was about the "Panther". The Panther was a woman he dated when he was younger, before he settled down with his wife Connie. It was a very rocky relationship. The Panther was from El Salvador. She was a wild woman. According to Julio the women from El Salvador are very outrageous and a little crazy. Julio and the Panther lived in a small village and were happy at first. Then the Panther got into drugs and wanted Julio to do drugs with her. Julio was very against this. He has never tried any drug and wasn't about to just because the Panther wanted him to. She became very angry and scratched his face (apparently this is how she got the name The Panther). The Panther was also a very jealous woman. If Julio would even look at another woman the Panther would go into fits of rage. One day Julio couldn't take it any longer and he fled to the city. Just disappeared. Left the Panther alone. He was so happy to be rid of her. Then, I guess, about 20 years pass and Julio receives a telegram. It said I love you and miss you, please call me. Well, Julio held on to that telegram for three days and then tore it up and put her out of his mind. Maybe I'm not translating this story very well, but it was a great story for an almost 4 hour road trip. Julio isn't sure what happened to the Panther, but he heard she died a few years ago. He isn't certain of this and he seems like the Panther could return at any time. Oh, and I haven't found out the real name of "The Panther". Which, makes it even better in my eyes. Currently Julio lives in Guatemala City with his wife, one son, a daughter, and I believe 3 grandchildren. He has another son that doesn't live with them. Julio is a freelance tour guide for Clark Tours in Guatemala. He loves his job and it really shows. Sorry, enough about Julio.
Yesterday I arrived in Chichicastenango, dropped my bags at my hotel and we were off exploring the market. The market happens on Thursday and Sunday. It is a colorful and picturesque Indian market. When I say Indian, that means Mayan. They are called Indians here, not Mayans. Anyway, Chichicastenango is a smaller town with not much to do but explore the market and church. We walked and walked and Julio told me all about the goods the people were selling and where the people came from. He also explained quite a bit about the Mayan culture and the different dialects the different groups speak. The women in this area still wear the Mayan costume. Which is a very colorful top with the sun and moon embroidered on them, and colorful skirts. It was impressive to see. I tried to get photos but a majority of the people waved me away when I put my camera to my eye. So, I'm sad that I didn't get as many photos as I would have liked. I did manage to get some stealth photos, but not the same. In the late afternoon I went back to my room. The hotel was strange. It is an old monestary that was converted to a hotel. The rooms were full of antiques. There were no phones, Internet or television. I think it was supposed to be quaint, but it was a pretty run down place.
Today Julio picked me up at my hotel and we made our way to Solola market. This is a smaller market and it was intensely crowded. We decided to only spen an hour at the maket, then Julio wanted to take me to a Cemetary. I love cemeteries so I was in! It was really beautiful. It sat on a ridge overlooking lake atitlan. After the Cemetary we drove to Lake Atitlan and I checked into my hotel. This hotel is one of the most beautiful places I've seen. It is right on the lake and the gardens are amazing! After checking in we made our way to Panachel. It's a very small town with one Main Street with vendors and restaurants. I love this place! It is a very pedestrian friendly town, which I love. Julio and I stopped for a birthday lunch, and then we parted ways. I walked around town for a couple hours and then grabbed a Tuk Tuk back to my hotel where I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on my patio enjoying the view with a bottle of wine. Checked some emails and Facebook (I can't escape it!) and now I'm sitting on my patio writing this blog and watching about 8 hummingbirds getting nectar from the same flowering plant on my patio. Life is good! When I die I want to come back as a hummingbird.
Tomorrow I take a boat across the lake and visit another village. I hope it isn't as hazy tomorrow as the lake is surrounded by three volcanoes. One is still active. It is so hazy now that you can't see the volcanoes, which is a bummer, but I'm hoping the morning will be more clear.
Sorry this post is so long winded! I will try to be more brief in the future.