We made various trips to neighboring towns from Panajachel. Our last day there we were planning to take the lancha (boat) to some of the lakeside communities not accessible by car, but unfortunately, a nasty wind (xocomil) kicked up and the few boats still operating were full.
We left our hotel early Tuesday morning to go to the market in the town of Solalà. The weather was cold, and having no top on the Jeep, we weren’t sure if the trip was worth the suffering. About 5 or 10 minutes out of town, we turned into the town of San Jorge La Laguna. We had heard about this town perched on the edge of the cliff and wanted to take a quick look. We got out of the car and walked a short way. We were rewarded with a spectacular view of the lake. All doubts as to the worthiness of the outing were forgotten then and there. San Jorge La Laguna is known for its bodiless Maximòn (a very interesting Guatemalan idol), but we didn’t look for him.
Back on the road, it was just another 5 or 10 minutes to our destination. Traffic was heavy and the streets were packed with people heading to the market. We found a parking place and followed the crowd. Soon we were in the market. There were colorful displays of fresh fruits and vegetables, blankets, lots of plastic items, pots and pans… all kinds of things. The Solalà market caters to the locals; tourists do not enter the equation when deciding what is sold. We saw some unusual fruits but only ended up buying bananas.
The Solalà market is held on Tuesdays and Fridays and is famous for its sturdy bags made of wool. Many townspeople, including the men, still wear their traditional outfits.
San Antonio Palopò
After lunch one day, we followed the road that hugs the coast east of Pana. We first came to Santa Catarina Palopò, a small town just 5km from Pana. We stopped to walk around a bit. It was very peaceful. We later read of a shop where you can watch weaving, an art gallery, and hot springs. We somehow managed to miss all three. We did see the cute little church. The town is known for its reed mats and its blue, green, and yellow huipiles (blouses).
Back on the road, heading out of town, we saw signs for various hotels but not the hotels themselves. They must have been hidden behind the large walls that run along much of this road. The mountains in this area are terraced and heavily planted with produce and, judging by the smell, mostly onions, although we saw plants of all shapes and sizes.
After another 5km, we entered San Antonio Palopò. We parked on the soccer field. Below us were women washing onions in the lake, on the horizon were the majestic volcanoes, and behind us, up the hill, was the town and its beautiful church.