Market in Solalá: On Being the Only Gringo in Town

Some towns don´t make it onto the gringo radar. Solalá is not even a pit stop on the way to the glamorous Lake Atitlan. You just cruise through in the combi or bus, not noticing much in anticipation of your first view of The Lake. But I read they had a good Friday market, and I am always susceptible to the siren song of markets. So I got up early on Friday and made my way to the market. By now I was staying in San Pedro, which is across the lake from Panajachal, and then it is a ways up the hill to Solalá. All together it took about an hour and half to get there, but it was one of those cases where the journey was as interesting as the destination.

The first part of the ride is a half hour on a speed-boat water taxi across the lake. On the boat I was the only real gringo. There was a small group of Israelis, speaking Hebrew, and the rest of the boat was fill with Mayans speaking their indigenous language. So many people speaking, and yet essentially so quiet! From the boat I went out to find a way to get up to Solalá, and was pointed to a pickup truck filling with more Mayans heading to the market. I climbed up in back and paid my 3 Quetzales (about 40 cents) when we arrived at the town plaza. But it was still a long up hill climb to the market, so I boarded a chicken bus and found the edge of a seat to perch on with everyone else.

At the market I was amazed to be the only gringo in thousands of people, and also that no one gawked at me or gave me much of a notice save a smile or a nod. This was their market day, and I really was of no consequence. This is different from markets that have been discovered by tourists, as no on saw me as a tourist, or an annoyance, or an easy mark.

The market itself is huge, and you can find anything you could actually need there. The colorful indigenous clothes are what are worn everyday, not costumes for gringo entertainment. It is possible to buy some of the blouses and skirts worn by the women, but not so much the men´s wear. Textiles are everywhere, though, and I suspect what you might want could be sewn up on the spot at one of the equally ubiquitous sewing machines.

I spent a couple of hours wandering about, and headed back to gringo-town Panajachal.

Boat launch at San Juan
One of many forms of ¨public transportation¨



Men dress as merrily as the women










Need some firearms?
Or orchids?



4 thoughts on “Market in Solalá: On Being the Only Gringo in Town

  1. Therese A. Soleil

    I went to Solala, too, and found myself the only gringo there at the time. I actually hiked up that hill from the central park. I feel I deserved some sort of award for that but then I looked at all the incredible Guatamalan women, men and kids that seemed to be doing it so effortlessly. There should be an emergency room half way up. So Joanne, just got back from 3 wonderful weeks in Ecuador…..loved it all…and not enough time, of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good for you! I didn´t make the hike, but I loved riding in the back of the pickup truck. Just like the old days in Alaska. I´m glad you had a good trip in Ecuador. I´ll be in Mexico next week, and then back to Peru. That is a bit of a long and painful tale. I want to hear about your Ecuador trip.


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