Catie Come Home

Our adoption journey to Guatemala

April 16, 2005

A Town Square without Character

Kimberly and I were bummed to arrive in Antigua on Thursday and hear from the owner of the B&B where we stayed that the indigenous Guatemalans who frequented the town square for years to sell their handmade goods have been banned from the practice.

Seeing all of those beautiful Mayan children and their parents throughout the square, and buying their products, was one of the highlights of our first two adoption journeys to Guatemala. We did have a few of them approach us in the square yesterday, but they were not nearly as persistent (also part of their charm) as in the past. They also didn't have much to sell.

People are still allowed to sell their goods in town, but they are tougher to find now that they have been moved from a central location. That said, Kimberly quickly reminded me yesterday as I was about to approach one Mayan mother to buy some necklackes that I needed to decided beforehand how many I wanted to buy, get them and then bid a hasty retreat before "the swarm" it. I told her that no one else was in sight, but she responded, "It doesn't matter if you see them; they are there."

She was right. Before I managed to conclude the exchange, two or three other Mayan girls and a couple of men had arrived to pitch their goods. One guy followed Dad a block or two, lowering his price every time Dad turned him down! I love this place!

After that one purchase on the street, we headed to a couple of warehouse-type stores where it looks like several Mayan families have set up shop to sell their products. We found the one store on our last night in Antigua in 2001 and were glad to see it still in existence. We were able to buy most of the trinkets we wanted.

I even found placements and coasters in blue and gold -- West Virginia University colors. For 10 bucks, now I can have Kimberly set the table in the colors of my alma mater. That's even better than coming home from Russia last year with a "nesting doll" for my Dad that featured WVU football players.

I'm sure we will buy more goodies -- we're still searching for just the right jade, for instance -- but we have most everything we wanted and more. I've added a Mayan-style shirt and belt to my wardrobe and found a notebook holder in the same style. My search for old Guatemalan coins is a longshot, but I'll keep looking.

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