Chichicastenango: A Guatemalan Village

Chichicastenango: A Guatemalan Village

Chichicastenango: A Guatemalan Village

Chichicastenango: A Guatemalan Village

Excerpt

The usual approach to Chichicastenango and the whole Quiché country is from the south, over the highway from Sololá. Sololá belongs to the garden country around Lake Atitlán. The people around the lake are not mountain people, although they live among the most forbidding mountains of Guatemala. The Sololá, huts of wattle and thatch are always built in sheltered hollows near running water, and around them are the carefully tended and irrigated gardens where luscious vegetables are grown the year round from the dark volcanic soil. Above these lush gardens tower grim volcanic peaks, stony and barren, their sides gashed by landslides.

After many miles of this scenery, the road climbs suddenly until the high point is reached at Los Encuentros, a telegraph office and estanco at the junction of road from Tecpán to Totonicapán. Los Encuentros is on a high, treeless, windswept ridge, 9,000 feet above sea level, and even in the dry season cold and foggy from low-hanging clouds. It is tierra fria, and, in so far as such a tumbled and chaotic country as Guatemala can be said to have a backbone, this is it. To the south lies the lake, and the steep valleys that descend precipitously into the narrow coastal plain of the Pacific. To the north lies the watershed of the Motagua River, which threads its way across the country to empty into the Atlantic at Livingston. Beyond this are other ridges, and then the country falls away in a series of undulations, towards "El Norte" and the impenetrable jungles of Chiapas and the Petén.

The boundary between Sololá and Chichicastenango is conspicuously marked by tall posts beside the road, a little north of Los Encuentros, but before the boundary is reached one is conscious of . . .

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