Ruth on the road travel blog

Market day in Todos Santos

Watching the fun

Teenagers are the same everywhere

Highland life

On the trail of the lonesome pine

Waiting for a ride back to town

Catching the bus

The Mayans may have abandonded their massive cities a thousand and more years ago, but they didn't die out. Guatemala has a greater proportion of indigenous people than anywhere else in Latin America and up here in the highlands, most people speak Mam, one of the old Mayan languages as a first language and learn their Spanish at school.

Which is what I was doing. Todos Santos has a couple of little Spanish schools run for the benefit of community projects- mine helped educate local children, many of whom cannot afford to go to school. I had intended to stay with a family to practice Spanish in the evenings and see a little more of the tradidional life, but I'm afraid the place they showed me was a little too traditional for a softy like me. The people were nice and I didn't mind the piglet in the hall, but no hot water, dirty sheets, and about seven children underfoot was more than I could handle so I scurried off to nice, colourful hotel just around the corner. Wuss.

When I wasn't studying I was hiking or visiting one of the local markets (livestock sold here, sheep and goats slaughtered, skinned and butchered there, everything from radios to clothes to herbs to dentistry to fried chicken and chips in between).

I also solved my clothing problem. I was grumbling back in Livingston that my cargo pants are falling apart but I can't find anything to replace them- well, here almost everyone wears traditional clothing and I got Don Domingo, one of the local tailors, to copy my old trousers. He used the dark blue cotton that the women use for skirts and warned me it would cost more than normal because of the extra work making all those pockets and buying the zips down at the market. In the end it came out at 125 Quetzales, about 9 quid. Now that's what I call a bargain.

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