I’m back home but still living in the past, so I have at least one more story.  My former Habitat co-leader, Wayne Hess, befriended a couple in the town of San Antonio Palopo, on the shore of Lake Atitlan about 10 kilometers from Panajachel.  He had given me some cash to deliver to them, which I did soon after arriving in Panajachel.  Juan, Juana, and their grown daughter Rosa make their living weaving fabric in their house.

The day before I left Panajachel, I walked over to San Antonio, for the hike and also to say goodbye to the family.

San Antonio Palopo is a Mayan village at the end of a road, so no one passes through there on their way to anywhere else.  

 

All the women and most of the men wear traditional dress, including a distinctive blue fabric that’s woven in that town.  

There are two streets wide enough for vehicles. The only vehicles are the pickup trucks that transport people to and from Panajachel, some delivery trucks, and one daily bus that leaves town at 4:00 each morning.

So I walked to San Antonio and phoned Juan (everybody has a cell phone), and he came and met me at the church and led me up a series of steep pathways to their house.  Juan and Juana thanked me and asked me to thank Wayne, many times.  One exchange was particularly interesting to me. Juana speaks Spanish at least as well as Juan, and she’s a better communicator in general, but at one point she spoke to him in Caqchikel and he translated it into Spanish for me, and it was a sort of formal speech of thanks.  Then she explained to me that she was telling it to him in Caqchikel, and I said I knew that, and then after that she couldn’t resist saying the whole thing to me in Spanish herself.  It was a formal and courteous speech and to me it seemed very repetitious, but I don’t know if there were variations in the repetitions that I didn’t catch, or if it’s a cultural thing, or if she thinks that’s the appropriate way to talk to foreigners, or if she just wanted to make sure I was getting it.

I asked her if she ever gets over to Santiago to sell their weavings, and she said no, people aren’t buying stuff and they spend more on the pickup and the boat and food than they earn, so they haven’t been going.  She said they haven’t been going to Panajachel either, because the pickup costs more than they make. (I returned by pickup to Panajachel and the driver charged me, as a foreigner, 5 quetzales, but I think the locals pay around 2.50 or 3, which is about 30 to 36 cents).

Note: That second photo is actually the neighboring town of Santa Catarina, which makes a better photo from the road.  San Antonio is similar.

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