guatemala diaries4: on the road to Chichi

It is Sunday morning and we get ready to meet our new guide at 7.  Simba( I have to call him that,with his blond mane and big body, he reminds me of a mighty lion) greets us at the front and we get into the van. He is both our driver and guide. Simba stops at a hotel in Zona viva to pick up two women who would be with us for half the trip.

Simba talks all the way. We first stopped at a coffee processing plant and talk to a lady who explains the process and let us try the coffee there which is delicious. Then we get on the road again, winding roads; it feels like I am in the hills in India and also makes me feel a little sick.  When I do sneak a peak outside,the view is breathtaking and Simba points out some volcanoes as well in the distance.  Many hair-pin bends later we stop to eat lunch.  I see a woman making tortillas; she takes a lime size dough from her pan of ‘masa’ and just pats it in her palms and she puts( a slightly thicker version than the corn tortillas I have seen in the supermarkets in Chicago)the tortilla on a hot concave base and cooks it. We try and our efforts are pitiful; they either tear up or are tinier versions of hers. She must think we are inept cooks!  Lunch is good and filling: lots of warm thick tortillas with beans and cheese and a cup of hot chocolate to wash it all down.

Back on the bus with my eyes mostly closed with more twists and turns as we go up mountains.  We see lots and lots of women wearing colored skirts and beautifully embroidered blouses.  Simba tells us that based on the style of their skirts and blouses one can tell which group of Mayans they belong to since there are over 20 different Mayan languages and groups in and around Lake Atitlan and surrounding areas.  We finally arrive at Chichicastenango to the Sunday market where many Mayan families would be selling their wares in between the two churches, El Calvario and Santo Domingo.  On the way we stop at some trees growing along the sides of the road and pick up orange-colored beans.

Simba drops the two women at their hotel.  It is a charming place with cockatoos, macaws and beautiful trailing vines and plants everywhere. Our hotel Mayan Inn is 023smaller but similar.  Our room is tiled, has a fireplace with rugs and two  beds.  It is chilly already and I know we will cover ourselves with layers of blankets and need the fireplace started.019012008

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