Well, I managed to make it through a busy morning at the Chichi market, and even escaped with my dignity mostly intact! Huzzah! Quite the cavalcade of peoplewatching, both locals and gringos! I grabbed an early breakfast and was pleased to sit and watch the world go by for a bit. Men and women with huge bundles balanced on their heads, merchants setting up for the day, many women in indigenous dress with children strapped to their backs and in tow... and the gringos started trickling in...
I did a few laps around the marketplace, and stood on the second floor of the Centro Commercial to watch the vegetable market in full swing. Interesting stuff. I have never seen such huge piles of carrots, onions, tomatoes, and other unrecognizable vegetation. Some vendors had actual scales but most used a system of stones in a hand scale to weigh the purchases. Then I sat on the steps of the church for a while, watching men and women swing cannisters of estoraque incense and chant prayers, while more urchins selling magnets and wooden necklaces made urgent pitches. And the gringos kept flooding in.
Wisely having taken stock the night before, I realized I had enough tchotchkes and mementos to satisfy my needs. (And anyone wishing to make a contribution to the Sonia World Tour Fund, just lemme know and I can arrange to send you a lovely fridge magnet! I knew a girl who funded most of her RTW trip that way, sharp cookie.) I popped in the church, carefully going in through the side entrance as the book recommended, and sat for a while to watch the festivities. Inside was an interesting mix of Mayan and Christian traditions. Old women lit candles and sprinkled rose petals in offerings on low stone tablets in the aisles. A priest was leading a prayer chant in the back. People lined up to make additional offerings in front. Gringos streamed by, ignoring the many posted requests to not take pictures and generally making asses of themselves by disturbing the proceedings. Just another market day in Chichi.
After spending a bit more time on the stairs outside the church, watching the world go by, I decided to try to find some lunch. The market is sprawling, but there is some method to the madness and the food stalls were lined up on the very inside of the plaza. Fortunately they were covered, too, because as I sat down the heavens opened and it began to pour in Biblical proportions. I enjoyed my chicken, rice, and papas fritas (happily, another bargain meal) and listened to the rain beat down on the tin rooftops. It stopped within an hour or so, but left behind muddy swirling motes and lakes on the cobblestone streets. Muck! Slurm!
Fed up with the teeming masses, I headed out to an internet cafe to catch up on email and plan my next day´s journey to Nebaj. As it´s a bit off the beaten Gringo Trail, it should provide a slightly different picture of Guatemalteco life.
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