Guatemala

Bloggers reward ;-)

Just a short update on how this travelbog is growing are going…

With almost 25.000 hits the statistics recognized 133 different territories.  The dense populated big modern countries are easy to get on the world map.  But tiny islands lost in the middle of a vast ocean with maybe a population of a couple of hundred persons are harder to reach as well as some devastated countries in war  It’s very satisfying to see that also they find the way to our blog.

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The top 10: Italy, Belgium, Spain, United States, Argentina, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Brazil, Colombia

Some others that caught my attention: Zimbabwe, Syria, Nigeria, Mozambique, Brunei, Palestinian Territories, Guam, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Benin, Mayotte, Tanzania, French Polynesia, Ghana, Nepal, Azerbaijan, Bhutan.

Thank you all, the Hermes’Journey goes on…

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Categories: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, U.S.A. | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Clown Edek at Guatemala City Circus

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How it happened we still don’t know exactly, but the moment the bus came around the corner our backpacks were taken from us, thrown on the bus roof while a man pushed us to the bus door where another man shouted: “Antigua, Antigua, Antigua, Guate, Guate, Guate!!!” like it is one word and would repeat it without stopping till the bus was moving again. An overcrowded bus looked at us and the bus driver’s second man showed us one and a half seat to sit down. We looked to each other and know for sure we just entered the world of ‘chicken bus’. A disconnected part in time and space where one seat serves two and a double seat serve three or four and where there’s no limit on the amount of passengers. The express bus keeps on stopping wherever people at the side of the road make a sign. People are squeezed against and jostled over each other as the second man pushes them so there always fits one more. We enter thief paradise as everybody is leaning against each other, not having any space at all and that’s just the space they need, moving with stops and starts from the bus. The overpopulation levels up to unexpected heights the moment the bus stops and from both sides, front and back door, are entering multiple person selling drinks, tacos, ‘tortillas con queso’, banana chips, ice creams, dry fruits and other sweets…  Each one of them pressing themselves through the bus with trays and baskets above their heads. The climax is when both sides cross each other in the middle of the bursting bus. They are the absolute evidence that ‘If there is a will, there is a way’ and make the impossible possible. It’s a hell of a ride and being intimately pushed into the bosom of a lady we make our head to Antigua. We stay some nights (read post “Antigua”) and move on to Guatemala City.

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When I started a course of entertainment in Mallorca (Spain) about 13 years ago, between the many persons I met one was a bit peculiar, a happy guy with joy and a smile carved on his face. Later I met him in Tenerife (Spain) and we kept in contact on Facebook. I had seen pictures of him as a clown in different circus and now as it is meant to be, he writes us that he is touring around as ‘Clown Edek’ with circus Galtük in Central America. You guess wright, they have a stop in Guatemala City. So as we arrived in the capital we take a taxi to Miraflores, a neighborhood of Guatemala City. Two tickets are waiting for us and we step into the world of fantasy. The light goes out, two clowns are walking between the public to warm up the multitude. We both are full of expectation and try to find Ward Claes behind the make-up of Clown Edek. As one of the clowns comes near, I can see a glimpse of light in his eyes… this must be Ward. The show starts and acts are flowing wild over in each other. Marvelous colors are filling the stage, artists are flying high in the air above us, contortionists flexing their body till the limit, persons walking and dancing on a rope hanging some meters above the ground,… and many other spectacular acts highlighted by colorful spots make the spectators going crazy. By each decor change there is Clown Edek, pulling the attention to him, as a true professional that makes the public wipe tears of laughing with just a look. It feels strange to see an ex colleague entertainer doing some sketches on big scale with money invested in it, the same sketches we did in hotels. We love the show and have a great time. A melancholic sensation runs through my veins and does remind me so many nice moments we had together.

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Categories: Guatemala | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The art of purchasing, Chichicastenango Martket

30/08/2013

We can do Chichicastenango as an excursion but that is very touristic.  A shuttle bus brings you there around 10 in the morning, you have 4 hours to see the biggest handcraft market in Central America, according some travel guides, and the same shuttle takes you back at 2pm. That is 4 hours tourist rush as all shuttles from different cities and villages have the same time table.  70Q a person is a good price for those with less time and a nice opportunity to buy some souvenirs from Guatemala.  We decide to stay here a night so we can see the market with and without the tourists and compare both, and also have some time to visit a bit of the town itself.  After leaving our bags into a 100Q cheap hostel (Mini Hotel Chichicasteca) near to the Arco Gucumatz at the very center of the town, we enter the streets full of small market stalls.

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Our first stop is the indoor fruit and vegetable market, loaded with indigenous Guatemalan people selling their garden green.  The two posts with ring are the only indication that this is actually a basketball court.  The freshest and cheapest vegetables are to be found here, just a pity that we don’t have a kitchen in the hostel. Because such an offer gives the mind inspiration to cook a decent meal.

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A bit later we pass the Santo Tomás church which has its stairs covered with flowers, some are for sale others are for oblation and it’s difficult to tell which is which.  In the middle of the stairs just in front of the entrance there is a small fire glowing, used for incense.  A familiar smell is entering our nose and reminds us to the church of San Juan de Chamula.  (See post San Christóbal, Mexico) San Thomas has the same native cult under its roof as Chamula but today is definitely not a busy day for the Gods as there are just some few praying for a good day of selling and most of the offerings and donations are done on the stairs just outside.   We even have time to pass by a well know viewpoint and take some pictures of the cemetery which is surprisingly colorful.  The graveyard view is just a view but an unexpected one, as it looks like a multicolored dwarf village with their small joyful polychromatic dwarf houses so definitely worth the walk.

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Four hours of watching tourists coming and going with plastic bags full of handcrafts just acquired pass by fast for us and even more for the salesman who are constantly shouting prices.  Then suddenly no more tourist, no more white people waving with holy dollars, no more easy sales at very high prices. The clock shows us 14:00 hours.  After a late lunch, about 3pm we notice that most people left walking, comparing prices and looking at the fine goods are from Guatemala or neighbor countries.  The price shouting still goes on but prices are slightly changed.  We get some strange looks as sellers suddenly notice us while shouting their new reduced prices.  We keep on waiting to do our buying as we are convinced that the price tags will get lower as the night comes closer.  So later at the afternoon, with the first drops of rain falling we give it a try.  Purchasing here at a good price is quite an art.  We ask the price for two trousers… “600Q is a fair, honest price for this nice trousers made by hand”, is the answer outpointing the ‘features’ of the clothes. “It has a gummy and a rope to adjust them to your size.  And the side has a special part, particularly from here in the area” The advantage of having more time is, for example, that we had seen before a shop selling woven material on big spools, typical from the area at big scale and very cheap.  We say it is quite expensive and an uncomfortable silence fills the emptiness between bargain hunter and merchant.   I, as making a joke tell Giorgia that we have had bad luck, that with all the choice between all the different market stalls, we had picked out the most expensive.  We thank the ladies, make one step and there is immediately this wicked question flying through the air straight in our ears: ”How much you want to pay for them?”  A question without any possible correct answer.  We can’t price to high and neither can we answer “nothing.”   The psychological pressure of the first 600Q offer is undeniable and everything we want to say seems too low.  This is one of these moments you decide if you step into the trap or you make the trap yours.  “ Ufff, dangerous question to ask me! ” I reply, “If I can choose the price you won’t earn too much.  But I will give you 50Q for both.”  The lady looks at me and says that 300Q is a better price.  300Q is the half of the first 600Q and seems good but the simple fact that 50Q did not shock her, did not even surprise her a bit, it rings the alarm bell.  There is no sign of disillusionment of the underappreciating, the underestimating of the work in her eyes.  If this pair of clothes costs about 300Q and I tell her to pay just 50Q I should have seen a sign of indignation but nothing… So probably our 50Q is closer to the end price as her 300Q.  Suddenly I consider I even might find these pants cheaper in Europe … so I ask her in a funny way and with a laughing tone, for not breaking the ‘auction’ down, if she tries to steal from us with those high prices.  No, she would never steal from us, 300Q is the real price for those two trousers.  “Well just before you said 600Q was a fair honest price and now 300Q is… that’s already a steal from 300Q!” I reply amused.  No answer is coming after this. “So I will pay you 60Q for both clothes.” 2oo she follows, 70 I offered, 100 she goes… to find finally a middle point not quite in the middle at 80 Quetzals for the both pieces.

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Five o’clock has transformed in half past five as half an hour passes by and 600Q has transformed into 80Q and a few drops has transformed into a proper rain drench.  We still buy a small bag and some oven gloves all made by locals in the typical multicolored woven material so recognizable and characteristic for Guatemala.  Back in the hotel we take a hot shower to warm up again.  We eat delicious tacos in a nearby restaurant for 54Q.  Next day we take the bus to Antigua happy with our buying and happy that we stayed longer than just the 4 hours of tourist rush, to see the real Chichicastenango, the real market and its real price.

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Categories: Guatemala | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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