Friday 22 September 2023

1987 Travel Journal: Santiago, A Trip Highlight

    I walked over to the mid-sized covered boat, paid the 5Q ticket price and joined the group of youthful tourists, retired tourists, and local Mayan Indians for the hour and a half voyage across Lake Atitlan.  It was refreshing to have the breeze in my face, as my eyes scanned over the deep blue water toward the two massive volcanic cones, which slowly changed their positions as our boat moved across the lake.

    The tallest volcano is 11,000 feet above sea level and the other volcano turned out to hide two smaller volcano cones behind it.  The Mayan Village of Santiago was nestled in a cove.  The minute we landed and stepped off of the boat, we were surrounded by Mayan women who started hitting us up to buy their colorful hand-woven wares.

    I wandered up the dusty path to a street that seemed to be the commercial center of tiny Santiago.  On the fronts of the adobe houses hung blankets, blouses, and shirts, brightly and beautifully embroidered with birds and flowers.  As I walked, I found myself constantly saying, “No, gracious, no gracious, no gracious.” as I was continually approached by the women vendors hawking their colorful handwoven fabrics.

    Actually, I did purchase a few things.  I came upon an ancient Mayan woman who was spinning yarn using a hand-spindle.  I had spun my share of mohair yarn using a spinning wheel, so it was fascinating to watch the old woman spin wool, by just twirling the wooden stick spindle that dangled down, as she fed it the wool with her other hand.  She was selling the hand spindles, and I bought two of them from her for $2.00 each.  She then allowed me to take her photo.

    I made my way back to the boat dock about an hour before its noon departure to Panajachel.  I sat myself under the shade of a tree overlooking the shoreline of Lake Atitlan, and was soon surrounded by a group of 5 young girls selling peanuts, sashes, necklaces, and a variety of 4” long bananas. They began to bombarding me with their sale’s pitches all at the same time, as they pushed their items toward me.

    I did buy a bunch of the miniature bananas and ate them.  I also bought some necklaces made of beans (someone was a good salesperson).  As their sale’s pitches continued, I whipped out my my cassette recorder, and started to record the girls’ chatter.  Like in the Oaxaca restaurant, they had never seen such a thing, and I played the recording back to them, over and over to their great amusement and giggling.

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