Chichicastenango: Managing Expectations

It is said that traveling broadens one’s mind and enriches one’s life. It happened to me today. Today’s lesson is about managing expectations.

Today’s itinerary is to return to Antigua with a four and a half hour stop in Chichicastenango. Very famous for its Sunday market, cofradias (brotherhood) who are responsible for taking care of the San Simon deity and would be seen dressed up on the way to church on sundays and the Mayan ceremonies at Pascual Abaj (a Mayan deity).

First, a lancha came to the hotel dock and made me miss the public lancha I was supposed to flag. The next one would have made me late at the pick up point. I was annoyed for having to pay ten times more but I did not have a choice. Missing my shuttle to Chichi would cost me three times more. Then, I got upset today because I only managed to see the Chichi market – which was too crowded and not much different from the markets yesterday (the traditional costumes and the merchandise are different of course and the sellers more aggressive). I climbed up to Pascual Abaj altar and no one was doing any ceremony. I only saw lit candles left by someone before. My guide is not good at all. I learned more reading my guide book. I have to force him to show me things. Everything I wanted to do is not possible. If I want to catch a Mayan ceremony, I would have to go to the cemetery and pay more. What rubbish which i refused! My tour was supposed to be for 4.30hrs, he left me after two. So you could imagine how I focused on these things and could feel my blood boiling a little bit. I was stewing over this until my meeting time again to catch the shuttle. I felt so ripped off and was focusing on this until I got back to Antigua. Then in Antigua, I felt ripped off at the cafe and restaurant because I had to pay with US Dollars with no Guatemalan Quetzal left after the day of being ripped off.

Site of Mayan Ceremony in Chichicastenango, Pascual Abaj
Site of Mayan Ceremony in Chichicastenango, Pascual Abaj

However, after getting back to my room in Antigua, I realized that my guide, though of baja calidad, did show me a couple stuffs because he saw how upset I was. And I did manage to catch some cool photos. And he did explain a couple cool things.

At Pascual Abaj, we saw empty bottles of potions with different purposes, such as increase your business (levanta el negocio), stopping people from saying bad things about you (tapa boca), and for earning more money (ven dinero). These potions are used in the offerings. Offerings range from food in cans, sugar, live chicken, and cigarettes. All the items must be covered by the potion and burnt and they must end in an explosion or it is a bad omen. Red candle is to purify one’s blood. Green candle is for nature. Blue candle is for travels. White candle is for offering in general. The Mayan altar always have four (one on main altar) crosses in a circle. East and west symbolizes the sunrise and sunset. The north and south symbolizes the blowing of the wind. The offerings are put on the altar and also a round area in the middle of the circle created by the crosses and main altar.

White Mayan Ceremonial Liquid
White Mayan Ceremonial Liquid

Then he showed me a moreria (mask workshop). There is a hidden Maximon in one of the rooms there. He also showed me antique masks. The photo of masks with eye balls are 50 years old. He also asked for me to take photo with the owner/mask designer who is dressed in traditional outfit.

New Mask/Doll For Festivities
New Mask/Doll For Festivities
Mayan Masks with 50 Year Old Eye Balls
Mayan Masks
Moximon at the Mask Workshop
Maximon at the Mask Workshop
Mayan Masks with 50 Year Old Eye Balls (Stored Lovingly In A Hidden Box)
Mayan Masks with 50 Year Old Eye Balls (Stored Lovingly In A Hidden Box)

At the end, he showed me the cool markets in a school.

Chichicastenango Vegetable Markets in A School Building
Chichicastenango Vegetable Markets in A School Building – Bustling and Exciting

He took me to the small chapel El Calvario to show me a fortune teller at work. Unfortunately, I could not do it because the fortune teller was going to do a ceremony with the client then. We did see a few old Mayan women and a man going through their Mayan rituals outside El Calvario and in front of  Saint Thomas church (closed for renovation). So I did see something.

Street Market in Chichicastenango in Front of the Saint Thomas Church
Street Market in Chichicastenango in Front of the Saint Thomas Church
A Lady Performing Her Mayan Ritual
A Lady Performing Her Mayan Ritual Outside Saint Thomas Church
A Lady Performing Her Mayan Ceremony on An Altar Outside A Chapel, El Calvario
A Lady Performing Her Mayan Ceremony on An Altar Outside A Chapel, El Calvario

And because he left me early, I ended up having lunch at Hotel Santo Tomas which is a beautiful hotel and I got to try Pache – a type of tamal eaten during Christmas time.

Facade of Hotel San Tomas
Facade of Hotel Santo Tomas
Beautifully Decorated Hallway of Hotel San Tomas
Beautifully Decorated Hallway of Hotel Santo Tomas
Beautiful Courtyard of Hotel San Tomas
Beautiful Courtyard of Hotel Santo Tomas
Hotel San Tomas Is An Outstanding Specimen of Colonial Architecture
Hotel Santo Tomas Is An Outstanding Specimen of Colonial Architecture

So looking back it is all about managing my expectations. I kept wanting to see everything in its full regalia, but at times, the small things count too.

On a lighter note, please see the bus photos in sequence. It is chicken bus interchange at work and it happened in the middle if the road when two roads merged. I was sitting in front of the van and saw it all!! Notice the western couple changing buses – running from one to the other. Kudos to them. I am happy watching from my comfortable tourist van 🙂

Chicken Bus Interchange In The Middle of Highway On The Way to Chichicastenango
Chicken Bus Interchange In The Middle of Highway On The Way to Chichicastenango
They Hopped Onto The Next Bus and Off they Went!
They Hopped Onto The Next Bus and Off they Went!

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