Yesterday (Friday) after school, Pablo took us to a neighboring pueblo call Salcaja. Pablo is Matt's maestro (teacher) and is a quiet and wickedly funny man. He is also a psychotherapist, so he and Matt are a perfect pair. Ben and Zoey, a darling couple from London came, too. We took a chicken bus to this small town about 20 minutes from Xela (shay-la) and stepped into a totally different world.
Salcaja is home to the oldest church in Meso-America. The church is over 500 years old and is a work of art. The walls are over four feet thick, which accounts for it's longevity in a country prone to earthquakes. All of the churches here are breath-taking and wildly unique. The art is profound. Yesterday was a special day in that it was the celebration of the Christo Negro, yes, the black Christ, and we awoke to more than the usual bombas in the morning. (More on that soon!) The church at Salcaja was preparing for a celebration later that night and the air was festive! What a church. What a refuge of peace and beauty. I loved the lace draping and the ancient candle lanterns.
On the flip side, Salcaja is also known for its fermented fruit liquor. It's the last town in Guatemala to retain the right to legally produce their own regional liquor. We crossed the street and visited a family who make it. We sampled both the liquor and the fermented fruit that produces it. Sweet liquor is low on my list, but we also learned that the fruit is a medicine for stomach problems caused by food poisoning or travel sickness. We bought a bit of the fruit to take home to Max, who has had a bout of yuckiness. (It's just a fact, that when you are traveling in Central America, you will, at some point, get sick. We knew this.) The fermented fruit has natural probiotics and also aids in sleeping.
Salcaja is also know for its thread production. Weaving is everything here and it takes thread. I have never seen so much thread. We went through a bustling family thread shop, through a small door into a warren of a warehouse. The rooms were divided by colors, Wild neons, primaries, natural colors, pastels, then whites and browns.
Oddly, in the midst of all this locally made thread, are huge German import businesses offering, you guessed it, brightly colored thread.
Our final stop was to wander the market, bustling on a late Friday afternoon and see the final product of all that thread. The weaving is beautiful and it’s hard to imagine the time that goes into a single item. We grabbed a bite of El Salvadorean street food (50 cents), bought a deck of cards($1), two second hand sweatshirts because it’s chilly here ($1), and caught the chicken bus back home. (30 cents each)
Hooray for the weekend! It's much welcome after a week of brain stretching study. If Max is better, we are hopping a chicken bus to the biggest water park in the world.. Who knew?!