Saturday morning we arrived at the CASAS campus and got on a bus headed for the town of Chichicastenago. We drove on really windy roads which looked out over beautiful hills scattered with houses and corn fields. After a few hours of these windy roads, we arrived at the Mayan ruins where a very friendly guide walked us through the ruins and explained to us the history which accompanied it. Over the next hour, we saw the ruins of five villages that made up the Mayan city, three temples (one for the sun, one for the moon, and one for the wind), a field where people used to play sports, and beautiful scenery.
After the Mayan ruins, we drove to the Widows Co-op in the village of Chontalá. To get to the house of one of the widows, we walked on a very steep and narrow dirt path through a corn field. When we arrived, the widows fed us lunch, which was fried chicken, rice, veggies, and tamalitos.
We sat in plastic lawn chairs under a tin roof while it rained outside and listened to Pastor Diego, who was the manager of the widows Co-op. After he told his story about how he got involved with the Widows Co-op, we got to hear a little bit from the widows themselves but they spoke Quiché so their words were translated into Spanish and then into English. After asking them questions, we were able to look through their selection of woven goods. The front and back of the room we were in was covered in colorful woven blankets, table cloths, clothes, bags, pouches, etc. We all ended up buying something from the widows. It was great to be able to support them by hearing their stories and buying beautiful things to bring back to the United States.
(Below: Photos by Maria Weber)
When we made our journey back to the bus, it was raining very hard. Although getting caught in the rain is not ideal, it was a good experience because these conditions are common for the women in the Widows Co-op.
Next, we went to our hotel in Chichicastenango where we heard from a Mayan woman who talked to us about Mayan culture, religion, and life.
We all went to bed early because at 6:30am on Sunday, we ate a simple breakfast of beans and eggs before going to the local Catholic church where we sat through the Sunday service among many other Guatemalan people. There was a lot of traditional music and singing as well as incense and candles. Although the service was in Spanish and Quiché, it was very interesting.
We then had free time to explore the market in pairs. The cobblestone streets of Chichicastenango were filled with small shops selling jewelry, weaved goods, leather goods, food, etc. For many of us, this experience was a mix of overwhelming and exciting. Many street vendors (men, women, and children) would follow us through the streets asking us to buy this goods. Sometimes it was impossible to say no (they are very persuasive). Again, all of us left with souvenirs.
A few hours later, after another drive through winding roads, we arrived back at the CASAS campus where our host families picked us up. After such a full weekend, we all enjoyed being back in the city to rest for class on Monday.