I have a story.  Betty and I went on an overnight excursion to the town of Quiche, to see the ruins at Kumarcaaj, where indigenous people still worship. And by the way, Betty commented that they don’t call them chicken buses because they have chickens in them, but rather as a description of the driver’s technique.  After the ruins, we went to the town of Chichicastenango to spend the night.  The first hotel we went to was locked up and no one answered the bell.  The second hotel no longer exists.  Finally, we tried the Hotel Maya Lodge, which our guide book says “has a colonial air, though it’s a bit frayed at the edges.”  This hotel was an elegant place about a century ago, when the couple who own it were young.  Ten rooms, all on one level, surround a pleasant inner courtyard.  Each room has tall double doors, high ceilings with wood beams, and a fireplace.  The double doors can be locked on the outside with an ancient padlock, and from the inside with a sliding bolt.  The proprietress handed us towels which were left over from Alvarado’s conquest of Guatemala.


It’s relevant to this story to describe the exits from the courtyard.   One goes out through the restaurant in front, in which we never saw a single customer.  The owners’ living quarters are attached to the restaurant.  There is also a side exit, out to a street.  During the night we noticed that there was no water in the bathroom, and the toilet was soon in need of flushing.  So at dawn I woke up with some anxiety, and began exploring our surroundings.  The other nine rooms in the hotel were all padlocked, so we were the only guests in the place.  The side entrance was padlocked on the inside and also braced shut with a board.  The front entrance into the restaurant was bolted shut from the other side, that is, the proprietors’ house.  So the story becomes a little gothic.  We were prisoners in a hotel in which we were the only guests.


Looking around, I found a laundry tub full of water and a 5-gallon bucket, so we were able to flush our toilet and wash our hands and faces.  After a little while, the elderly proprietor appeared and the first thing he asked was whether there was water.  I said no, and he rushed off to turn on the pump, which fills the water tanks from the town water supply.  So the story ends happily.  We packed up pretty quickly and departed.  Three buses later, we had a nice breakfast back in Panajachel.


I’ll say a few more words about the Kumarcaaj ruins.  This was the capital of the Quiche empire up to the time when the Spanish came and destroyed it.  It is mostly un-restored, and is a relatively quiet and peaceful place. There is no prohibition against climbing on the temples and other ruins.  A  number of different groups of people were chanting prayers, burning incense, and laying out flowers.  There is a cave, which I think is really a man-made tunnel in the rock that goes quite a distance, and they burn stuff back at the end of it.  When we were there, some guys were burning stuff outside the mouth of the cave but not inside.  The ever-resourceful Betty brought along her head lamp, so we were able to go into the cave all the way to the end.  A family of Guatemalans who had no light followed us in, with the benefit of our light, and thanked us.


Here’s a picture of Betty standing on top of one of the temples.  Behind her is the ball court, the only partially-restored structure in this complex.