Due to lack of internet access, I have not been able to post nearly as often as I was hoping to and, to be honest, so much has happened in the past three days that consolidating it into one reasonably small blog is nearly impossible. Still, I will try my hardest to both inform and entertain you with this hopefully educational anecdote of the past few days.
We have been to many different locations, all of which were incredibly unique. Our first destination was Panajachel which was located on a natural lake formed over time by the four volcanoes that surround it. The area of Panajachel that we were in was a very busy market-type area. We had a lot of people coming up to us offering us "special deals" for their "unique" items, such as handmade bookmarks and beautiful handmade fabrics. The lake itself was amazingly tranquil and calming. The group spent a few minutes taking pictures of the lake with the volcanoes in the background and just enjoying the view.
The next day, we left Panajachel and headed toward Chichicastenango (Chichi for short). Chichi is home to two distinct features. The first is the church there which gives a wonderful display of the syncretism of the Roman Catholic religion that the Spanish brought to the Mayans in the 1500s and the religion of the ancient Mayans.
The second feature is one of the largest markets in Central America. Nearly all of the shops were open-air and at least 25% of the people selling things were carrying their items and coming right up to you offering you deals. Before our group even got off the bus, we had kids as young as 5 years old coming up to us trying to sell us things (this is where the title of this blog comes from). Although, I can't deny that the fabrics, clothing, and artistry here in Guatemala is some of the most beautiful and colorful that I have ever seen.
Now, we are staying in El Refugio, which is a little compound outside the city of Quetzaltenango called by the natives as Xela. It is in and around Xela that we are doing our work with the Highland Support Project in the schools and houses in the area. I would say that Xela is by far one of the more relaxing areas we have been in (we aren't getting accosted everywhere we go), but it is also one of the more run-down and poverty-stricken areas.
The place we are staying in, El Refugio, is a really nice compound with beds and walls and showers, but the place that we are working lacks all of these comforts. The houses are surrounded by walls that are topped with barbed wire and broken glass and there are very few trees.
I don't want to overwhelm anyone reading this with too much information at a time, so I'll stop there and post some other blogs that have to do with the mission goal of the group we're working with, customs and traditions of the Mayan people, things that I've seen that were really interesting, and maybe (hopefully) some pictures...