I took the bus of 5 30 am from Todos Santos to Huehue. When I got in the bus I bumped again into Eva who also woke up early and took the same bus to Huehue to go early in the morning to La Messila at the Mexican border. We arrived in Huehue in two hours and said goodbye and bon voyage- me only for another week and she for another two months. The Xela bus connected quickly, in about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, I took several pictures of chicken buses that were abundant in Huehue terminal that is an important hub, trying to avoid a drunkard who was excited about my video camera. In about two hours I was in Quetzaltenango, Xela as is named by everybody, and I took a minibus from terminal Minerva to Parque Central.
Here I started to look for hotels and it was not as easy as expected in Guatemala’s second city, but in the end I found a room, only for a day in a very nice colonial hotel, with a charming interior courtyard. They had to clean the room so I dropped my bag and I left to talk in tourist agencies to see how are things, in terms of local movement and movement away from here. It turned out, as expected, that is no direct bus to Copan, Honduras and you have to sleep in Antigua and go from there. I knew that and if you book it from here is way more expensive. Also, I got information about what can be seen around here, a thing that also I knew but I got an exact location of the places to visit, and this was very helpful to decide what to do. So I went to have my desayuno at 11 30 am, and I studied the situation and it became very clear that I have to do the trips on my own because the organized trip they were not fitting my schedule, among other having time for lunch, I can not stand that, and having too many things to see in one day. In general I need more time for some places that is more to shoot, so I decided to go to the terminal and leave to the south of Xela with chicken buses. Luckily I forgot the tripod in the hotel, because I picked up the wrong minibus.
The guys from the hotel directed me to the right place to take the bus, very close to the hotel, that dropped me in 15 minutes in Almolonga, a village famous for its vegetables that today was supposed to have a market. The market was not as big as expected but the people in the market were very interesting and I stayed there shooting for an hour. Meanwhile, a guy who saw me with the camera shooting, told me that he just came from Zunil, the village that I was supposed to go next, and that is a great vegetable market there.
So I finished my shooting, I went to the church and I went to the bus and took a bus that was just leaving for Zunil and arrived there in 10 minutes. The guy was right. The market was in full swing and it was charming. The entire outside square was full with women dressed in traditional clothes, selling extraordinarily beautiful vegetables. I never knew that it exists, so nice and big organic vegetables! It was the best market I saw in this trip, just a veggie market, with nothing else and no tourists. I tried to get to some balconies, but all were private houses and nobody let me do it. Even without this point of view I shot tons of stuff from everywhere. I took a break going to the interior market and there was again a great show of veggie and people, everything colorful and nice. I left after an hour and I went to see the church, whose white ornate facade is very interesting. It has also a gilded altar and lots of icons that look very old.
From the church I started in the search of Maximon, San Simon, that has here a place, being a protector of the locals. I found it and I spent there about one hour and assisted at two ceremonies that I was able to shoot almost completely. This is an old Maya tradition that in time became part of the CatholicMaya religion that is the local religion in Guatemala’s highlands. As I understood less and less people come to Maximon, who looks and is dressed like Michael Jackson! The ceremony is pagan, if this term means just non-Catholic, and it involves a lot of incensing, candles and lots of smoke that makes the video spectacular. I left Maximon just because it was 4 00pm and I still had to go to another place. I went in the square and I negotiated with a taxi to bring me to Fuentes Georgina. He charged me Q80- round trip, a higher price than normal but I was by myself so it was not too much of a choice. He had to make his money.
Fuetes Georgina are some thermal springs, somewhere on top of Zunil about 9 km on the road. It is a very nice place and the two pools are a pleasure to be in. I did not have my bathing suit but I got in shortening my pants and the relaxing feeling you get is unequal. The water is hot, hotter that before, since a mudslide covered the fountains, renovated now, but opened another hot spring. Also, you can do a nice hike up the mountain in the jungle that is also nice and makes the entire trip worthwhile. The fountains were full of foreigners, Xela being also a major place for learning Spanish. I returned after one hour with the taxi guy who waited for me there, and I talked with him about a lot of things, practicing my Spanish that works excelente! The language spoken in Zunil is Quiche and is very different from the other languages from the area, Tzujil, Mam, from TS and Kachichel. He dropped me in the front of the church and I went to Cooperative Santa Ana, a woman cooperative for handicrafts where I found the beautiful bands the women from Zunil were wearing in the market and I bought some of the them. It was supposed to be a bus at 6 30pm from Zunil to Xela, the last one, but it did not show up and I was advised to go to the main road and wait, 10 minutes away. I did it and a bus just came, probably the 6 30 pm that was late, that brought me in 20 minutes in Xela and after a minibus ride I got to Parque Central where is my hotel. I went to eat and I picked a great place, that I highly recommend, The balcony of Enrique, a terrace that is overlooking the entire main square of the town, that is also Parque Central. Mexican pollo con cerveza and planning my trip for the next days because this efficient transportation from Todos Santos to Xela and the visits I did today saved me two days of the original plan. As a result, tomorrow I will go to the north of Xela, mainly to San Francisco Alto, where is a famous market and several other towns that have some interesting sites, hoping to be back in Xela at 2:00pm and take a bus to Antigua around 4 00pm. The rest, email, phone, blog and that’s it. It started to rain and it rained all night.