Antigua Guatemala Market

The Market in Antigua Guatemala

The market in Antigua Guatemala is a must to see. When you are done looking at all the great architecture and scenery and want to really experience Guatemala you must stop at the market. The market is right next to the chicken bus terminal which is about 4 or 5 blocks from the center of town. If you have a problem finding it just follow the sounds of the blowing bus horns and you cannot miss it.

The market is filled with all sorts of interesting things. If I was to live in Antigua I would not shop any place else. Just take your shopping list and you can find everything you can find at Wal-mart here in the States. I have visited the market in Antigua several times, it is an adventure of a life time and one I will never forget.

The market in my mind is divided into three sections. First there is the market that is out back where you hardly ever find a gringo. This market is filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, rice, beans, flour, fish, meat and etc. Also you can find every kind of clothing, hats, hardware, tools, toiletries and anything else you may need for the home.
The second part of the market I would say is for the tourist that is looking for something small to bring home. The t-shirts, soccer jersey, knickknacks, small little collectables, pirated cd’s and dvd’s, and some weavings and cultural items. The third part of the market “The Artesian Market”, which is nicer and quieter than the other two is where you will find all of the handcrafted items. You will find some of the best hand crafted items in Central America. The popular items are the brightly colored fabrics, from huipils, jackets, dresses, bedspreads, and blankets. You will also find some real nice art work and wood hand carvings.

Market days are a blast, try to shop during the week when the tourist trade is a little less. I think you will find the prices a little cheaper than on the weekend. Also do not take the first price they throw at you, do a little wheeling and dealing, remember they think all North Americans are rich.

The Market in Antigua is a must for any visitor. I have never been in such a wonderful place. This is a true taste of the culture of Guatemala.

The Colorful Chicken Bus

The Chicken Bus, a true way of life in Guatemala

Life in Guatemala is quite complex. It offers such beauty in so many different ways. One of the ways that Guatemalans show their beauty is through their colorful artwork on their chicken buses.

Chicken buses are one of the most used modes of transportation in Guatemala. You may ask, how did they get their name chicken bus? Well the name came from the fact that rural Guatemalans’ transport their chickens, other small farm animals and their vegetables to market by old American school busses that are redone and painted elaborate colors.

Travel by chicken bus is quite the adventure. They are not at all comfortable to ride on, the suspension is very stiff and usually no air conditioning. They travel very slow going uphill (which most of Guatemala is mountainous) and going downhill is very fast. Hopefully the bus you are riding on has good brakes. Most of the buses run at overfull capacity and usually one or two people hanging on the back of the bus for a free ride. No real laws in Guatemala for the chicken bus.

I would recommend not riding a chicken bus in or out of Guatemala City (The Capitol) and I do not recommend riding one around Guatemala City either. Chicken bus riding is not safe in Guatemala City or the surrounding communities. The safest place I would recommend riding on a chicken bus is around Antigua. I have personally road on chicken buses around Antigua and the surrounding communities. I have never felt unsafe and the cost is extremely reasonable. From stop to stop it was around one to two quetzal. Don’t get hooked by the gringo tax, keep an eye on what everyone else is paying and do the same.

No trip to Guatemala is complete until you have walked in the shoes of a true Guatemalan and rode on a chicken bus.

Panajachel Guatemala

Panajachel Guatemala sits on the shores of beatiful Lake Atitlan in the highlands of the department of Sololá of Guatemala. The town of Panajachel is located at an altitude of 5,238 feet, with a population of around 11,000.

The history of Pana dates back to the 16th century when the spanish conquest of Guatemala took place. There was great fighting that took place with the Mayan Indian tribe called Kaqchikel.

Today it is a busy tourist destination for Guatemala. Pana is filled with hotels, shops, and some of the best resturants I have ever eaten in.

There is a good variety of restaurants in Panajachel, but all small towns and villages in the area have some dining choices. Panajachel has plenty of bars and nightlife spots, but most smaller towns and villages do not have much nightlife options.

Here are a couple of useful links for Panajachel:

Visit Pana

English is mostly spoken in this area since there is so many travelers that visit this area each year. It is pretty safe also, just some pickpocketing takes place in the clubs or where there may be a lot of travelers congregated. Just be careful and do not carry much cash on you when walking around.

To really learn about the area around the lake, and the many small villages that dot the shore line of Lake Atitlan. One should venture out and take a tourist guided boat ride to see the beautiful volcanoes and the great markets these villages have to offer. At the markets you can find some of the best woven hupils and beautiful color embroidery work done by hand.

Plan on spending the day if you plan on visiting all the villages. But it is worth it. Then come back to Pana to have a wonderful dinner at some of the best restaurants in Pana.

Swine Flu in Guatemala

The swine flu has really hit hard in Guatemala. But my personal feeling is that the media community does not really care about this third world country. I have not hardly seen any news articles discussing the situation that is taking place in Guatemala.
I did catch one article that was in the Associated Press today.

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemala's government is asking two towns to close down nearly all public venues to prevent the spread of swine flu.

Health Secretary Celso Cerezo said the virus has infected 96 people in the Central America country, including 11 in the last 24 hours. Most have recovered.

On Wednesday, Guatemala suspended all schools nationwide until at least July 1.

The school that our dear friends run in Antigua "Escuela Integrada" will even have to shut down for two weeks. This puts a terrific hardship on the children and the family's. These family's rely on the feeding program that we offer to the children each day. With so much malnourished taking place in the country, for some of these children it is the only food they have to eat all day. So with the government closing all schools these children wont have food to eat. It is a disparate situation.

Drug Violence in Guatemala

The drug violence in Mexico that you hear and read about on a daily basis is now starting to head south into Guatemala. With the pressure on in Mexico by the army and police the drug cartels are moving their operations to Guatemala. The country of Guatemala having weak law enforcement and terrible corruption in the government and being neighbors to Mexico it is a easy move for the cartels.

Guatemalan police commanders say their 20,000 officers cannot match the firepower of the Mexican traffickers, who have made growing use in Mexico of military-type arms, such as 40-millimeter grenades and .50-caliber rifles capable of piercing armor.

Stated in the LA Times:
Mexican drug gangs under pressure at home are moving operations to Guatemala, whose proximity, weak law enforcement and deep-rooted corruption provide fertile ground, officials and analysts say.

To read the full story click on this link: HERE

I hope that the government can put a stop to these murderous gangs. I love Guatemala both the people and the country, and I would hate to see it fall to these thugs.
The country is in a tail spin with the economy, but we hope that the government sees that it needs to use all their resources to put a stop to the awful crime that is taking place.

Guatemala rally targets president - BBC News

According to BBC news agency, with the death of lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg has caused protest of thousands of demonstrators in the capitol of Guatemala. The protestors are demanding the resignation of President Colom in conjunction with the death of Rosenberg.

Thousands of Guatemalans have marched through the capital to demand the resignation of President Alvaro Colom over the killing of a lawyer.
Before his death lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg recorded a video saying that if he was found dead the President and his aides would be responsible.
The tape was released the day after the 47-year-old was shot dead on 10 May....

To read more about these protest please click on the link: