Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chimaltenango: Our First Stop in the Highlands

Chimaltenango, cradle of poets and artists, including Rafael Alvarez Ovalle -author of Guatemala's National Anthem, and Andres Curruchich -acknowledged as the father of the naif painting movement in Guatemala.
As every department in the country, it is divided in several Municipalities: Acatenango, Chimaltenango -the capital, El Tejar, Parramos, Patzicia, Patzun, Pochuta, San Andres Itzapa, San Jose Poaquil, San Juan Comalapa, San Martin Jilotepeque, Santa Apolonia, Santa Cruz Balanya, Tecpan Guatemala, San Pedro Yepocapa, and Zaragoza. It bounds to the north with El Quiche and Baja Verapaz, to the east with Guatemala and Sacatepequez, to the south with Escuintla and Suchitepequez, and to the west with Solola.
As far as I know, the main festivity in the area, especially in the towns of Patzun, Patzicia, and Santa Cruz Balanya (in the photo shown at the bottom), is the celebration of Corpus Christi, and the date for this celebration between May and June depends on the dates of the Holly Week.
About the handicrafts in the region, even though there is a wide variety, I think that in addition to the naif paintings, the ceramics -most of them, reproductions of ancient  pre-Hispanic artifacts and utensils, cotton-based fabrics, wooden musical instruments, and candles, are also worthy. 
Almost at the beginning of Chimaltenango, there is a beautiful park called Los Aposentos, which is a water spring that has been arranged to be a recreational area for locals. It is easy to get there from Antigua Guatemala through a secondary yet scenic road, let us say, after having lunch in Parramos...
I think there are places that forever will keep you traveling back to your childhood no matter what, and for me, Los Aposentos is one of them. It is probably that when I was a child, I went there only once but I have vivid memories of the swans on the small lagoon, the colorful boats sailing all over the place, and the smell of the panitos (sweet and crunchy rings-like bread, like those in the photo to the left).
Corpus Christi Celebration in Santa Cruz Balanya.

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