Chi Chi, Coke Holidays, Zoo La & a Full Moon Party

Trip Start Sep 29, 2007
Trip End Dec 20, 2010

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Flag of Guatemala  , Western Highlands,
Thursday, October 25, 2007

I sent some black obsedian volcanic rock and impossibly white Carribbean sand granules home today in the mail. It actually looks like a package of cocaine in a ziplock baggie so it may not make it through.  Mysterious white packages sent from South America are a bit suspect in these parts and we should know.

We cruised around the charming Antigua then caught a 2:00pm shuttle bus with some Israelis heading to San Pedro La Laguna on Lake Atitlan. The trip was uneventful apart from some very loud Americans talking bollocks. We bussed in not taking the boat as most people do and were awarded with fantastic views from a steep, winding road down to the lake. As soon as we arrived we were offered some ganja man! After being haggled for about 5 minutes in the street we checked in to Hospedaje Casa Elena for 70 quetzals about US$5 each for a private room with bathroom. The room was prison cell style however the hotel was right on the beautiful lake which is surrounded by massive mountains, volcano San Pedro, corn fields, coffee plantations and cloud forest. Food is cheap here, cocaine is on tap and there are lots of Spanish Schools. We ate a huge plate of salad at D´Noz Restaurant. The traditional clothing is worn here in all seasons and you can watch the happenings around the lake.

We booked a bus to Chichicastenango for the big market day tomorrow, watched a guy make some awesome UV string mandalas and then found out that the FULL MOON is tomorrow night and the village is having a psytrance party at a space named Freedom. No wonder there are so many Israelis around. The village has a hippy feel and many travellers have stayed here way too long. Coke holidays are all the go. The tourist area near the lake is segregated from the traditional village where lots of Mayans live. We would have preferred the smaller town of San Marcos which has meditation, reiki, yoga and pyramid accommodation.

We chilled on the rooftop before hitting the bed early on a mattress with crazy springs.  

I was up and about early to watch the sunrise over the lake this morning. 7:00am bus to Chichi for the market day an important trading day in the town. Mayan traders from outlying villages come to Chichi for this indigenous market. We got on the wrong local bus then the right shuttle bus as we had bought some dodgy tickets from a venue called Shanti Shanti. Everything in San Pedro is given a hippy name and i wonder what mine might be, maybe we shall find that out once we get to India. 2 hour journey.

Chichi is surrounded by mountains and has the typical cobblestone streets.
The markets assaulted all our senses at once. This is a photographers dream, so many colours and exotic goods for sale. Products of every description were thrown at us and women and children followed us around draping fabrics on us and selling necklaces and peanuts. whislt butchers hacked at animals in a primitive open air vegetarian's nightmare. The interior of the market had fresh vegetables and local produce, baked goods (i am fond of the banana bread) macaroni, soap, candles, spices, sewing stuff and toys and women throwing tortillas around. ¨Special price for you¨ of course. Some of the items we saw were dried fish, sacks filled with incense, garments, grains, fresh flowers, lillies, many fabrics for carrying babies and making clothes, shoulder bags typical to the Highlands, giant loofahs, masks, machetes, flint, knives, watches, limestone pieces, crystals, Mayan antiques and cushions. We bought a wild boar tooth which a jeweler had crafted into a necklace, some antique clay items and a bedspread and a length of fabric which is used for carrying babies among other things. We got a bit carried away in the frenzy of the market. We had fun bargaining for our gear and think we did OK. In the centre of the market is a big church in which Mayan ceremonies are held, the town upholds pre-Christian beliefs. Copal incense is burned on the church steps while indigenous prayer leaders swing balsam incense pots and chant magic words in honour of the Mayan calendar and their ancestors.

Woudln´t you know who we run into at the market. Ostavio and Benito our caving lads from Spain. We were all very happy to see each other again in this coincidence and spent time hugging in the middle of frenzied market stands. We sat down for a coffee together once again and chatted about our journeys. We were there for 4 hours and could have stayed 8. We got entirely lost and had to find our way out for the bus back to San Pedro. Exhausting day. On the way back to the lake we passed through a village where everyone was knitting haccy sacks. So that´s where all the world´s haccy sacks come!  There was lots of roadside activity and basket on the head wearing going on.

We had dinner at the Israeli restaurant that those on the bus said was all the rage and it was. To find it we had to negotiate a couple of dark alleys and fields, it was found amongst the corn. It was called Zoo-La and was a kitchen and a large thatched roof with no walls. The ambience was perfect. There were large logs against which many cushions had been placed and these surrounded  low coffee tables which sat on natural grass mats. The space was large and the music relaxing and funky to lie back and chill out to. Gallo beer was served in litre bottles. Tea was all the go here, Israel style. We ate a dish of marinated eggplant, bruschetta and sour cream served with a large loaf of heavy bread. We also had a hommus pita, salad and a liver pate and onion marmalade dish. Divine dinner and very good value.

We chatted to some Guatemalan lads who just so happened to work the bar at Freedom where the full moon party was happening. So, we pumped back up and went out to join the celebration. The dance floor was going crazy early in the night and the French Djs played fast psytrance. We danced and drank fruit punch. The venue was right on the lake and the moon was glowing through clouds. Someone pointed out that one of the mountains has the shape of a Mayan ruler´s face and it was very easy to make out and a little scary. We danced on the dance floor and on top of a shaky, wooden platform built at the back and watched poi and staff fire twirlers play below. There was a cute garden lit up to sit in and loungey areas for chill. We could not believe we were in Guatemala at such a location and at this party. We went to the after party at another little hippy bar and then ended up over the other side of town at the after after party. We met lots of people and sat in dugout wooden canoes to watch the sun rise. Naughty, naughty!! We have to get ut of San Pedro la Laguna, it's a trap!
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