Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Ixil Triangle

The Ixil Triangle is an area in the Western Highlands of Guatemala where the locals speak Ixil, not Spanish the language of their European conquerors; in fact, even today many local barely understand Spanish. The Triangle is on the tourist trail for its hiking, remote location, and access to indigenous culture. We decided to base ourselves in Nabaj the leading city and transportation hub.

We arrived in a drizzle on Epiphany Sunday just when services were letting out from many of the Evangelical churches in town. The local ladies were looking sharp in their red skirts as they headed home or directly to the main Catholic church for its 6:00 PM service.

NGO's have been operating in Nabaj for 20+ years as the region was hard hit by the civil war, and thus the eating is good for foreigners. We had a burrito feast at El Descanso our first night, and then ate three meals at the newly opened Casa de la India. Plus the local ladies who cook at Casa de la India made the local specialty boxbol, corn dough wrapped in ayote (squash leaves) and boiled, for us.

One day we beat the afternoon rain and hiked over the hill Acul with good views back to Nabaj on the way up, a pasture at the top, and fields of the traditional trio, corn, beans, and squash, on the way down.

The next day we took a minivan west to Chajul, one of the other cities in the triangle, then walked south to Cotzal, the third leg of the triangle, returning to Nebaj by van.

The rain plus elevation made Nabaj quite chilly at night; we switched rooms at our hotel to one with a lower ceiling, thus warmer but not warm. Of course the day we left was warm and sunny. Maybe we should have stayed in Nabaj another day? Stay tuned.

The Nabaj Church at night.
Nebaj, Guatemala

View to Nabaj from the road to Acul.
Nebaj, Guatemala

At the top of the pass, the road runs through a cow pasture. The locals produce cheese.
Nebaj, Guatemala

In places the path to Acul was very muddy as proved by this shot of Sun-Ling wafflestompers.
On the road from Nebaj to Acul, Guatemala

The women of Chajul wear some cool headgear.
Nebaj, Guatemala

Aloo Curry and bread at Casa de la India.
Casa de la India - Nebaj, Guatemala

Boxbol, the local specialty.
Boxboles - Casa de la India - Nebaj, Guatemala

The weekly market in Chajul was rainy but did not disappoint.
Chajul, Guatemala

Chajul, Guatemala

Plaza and Church of Chajul.
Chajul, Guatemala

The altar of the Catholic church in Chajul is flanked by figures in local costume.
Chajul, Guatemala

Women of Chajul.
Chajul, Guatemala

Chajul, Guatemala

Plaza and Church of Cotzal.
Cotzal, Guatemala

A tremendous "tipico" lunch in Cotzal.
Cotzal, Guatemala

And finally, another great meal at Case de la India - Paneer Curry.
Paneer Curry - Casa de la India - Nebaj, Guatemala


Crash Eddy said...

You two are going to weigh 250# each by the time you return, have to lengthen your daily DVD hike.

How do you communicate in Ixil language to order food? Do waitstaff have to know some Spanish like Mexican waitstaff here have to know some English? Or just point at menu?

Two photos of Plaza and Church of Chajul, one has black piping on the church front, the other does not. Different sides of same building?

WQZ said...

the food looks really good. everything is so colorful.

Thrasher Wheat said...

Looks like you guys are having fun!

Be on the lookout for the Inca Queen.;)

Sun-Ling said...

Ed & WQ, in my opinion the food up to this point had been rather unremarkable. John made them look better than they tasted to me, considering rice and beans are just about my least favorite food.

There had hardly been a middle class that I could discern, which means restaurants cater either patricians or plebeians. With my aversion to elite/gringo/tourist restaurants, our default food had been rice and bean.

In Nebaj, we had a good excuse eating at gringo restaurants. They are set up as coops by NGOs to directly benefit the indigenous people. I ate heartily and enjoyed thoroughly.

Now we are in Mexico. There is a significant middle class with restaurants that serve them, including vegetarian restaurants! We have been indulging ourselves, even an all-you-can-eat buffet last night, since my very favorite food is Mexican, not Chinese. I had thought Ed's concern was far fetched. Now I am too worried that I won't fit through door when we get home, lol.

Dayle In NC said...

I thought the same as others after seeing the colorful photos of the dishes of food -- John must have a knack for capturing the best elements of the meals. Siempe tengo hambre despues de ver las fotos de comida. :-)

WQZ said...

pictures are deceptive. coincidentally joel and i were wondering this monday if you're tired of the restaurant and street food. we took monday off and ate out. but most the time when we go out, we're not satified with restaurant food here in raleigh. before reading your post SL, we thought the food there looked clean, simple, and gentle, like home cooking. it is amazing that you can tolerate for such long time eating out, especially you're such a fabulous cook yourself. well glad you're in mexico now. expecting more food pictures from John.

Sun-Ling said...

@Dayle, consider yourself forewarned - there will be lots of eating in Mexico, lol.

Sun-Ling said...

@WQ, why do you think I cook so much when I am at home?! We feel the same way about restaurants in Raleigh, especially for being vegetarians. It surprises me that you feel unsatisfied when you eat meat. I especially miss cooking when I see the varieties of vegetables in the markets but cannot get them in the restaurants. I had looked forward to Mexican food and I have been more than happy, though lots of meat eating here.