Ceramic and pottery shopping in San Antonio Guatemala

If you’re in Panajachel, Guatemala … you might want to take a side trip up a volcano or even do some hiking. For me, I was mostly content to eat pizza and hang out enjoying my view.

However … if you do happen to get a little tired of the spectacular view, unlimited rum and cokes and stone oven pizza made by your in-house staff, then you could wander off property and go pottery shopping in San Antonio Guatemala. When you’re staying up the mountain, it means that you have to head downhill to get to town. This is no easy feat, as you have to walk or you can hike in the back of a pickup truck. Riding in pickup trucks in Guatemala is always a tricky adventure … especially if you’re a westerner not accustomed to the bounces and shocks, but the ride into town will be worth it. Your photographic skill will be tested – shooting awesome pictures while bouncing around in the back of a pickup truck is not in the manual … but I used simple math to rationalize things … if I shoot 200 pictures, 1 picture will be blog worthy.

Many of the villages around Panajachel are considered to be some of the best places to shop for handicrafts. San Antonio is no different, with a high proportion of Maya people living here, higher quality of handicrafts and the number of visitors, it makes for a good shopping climate. If you’re not into negotiation and bartering, then you’re naturally going to pay a higher price.
Once you get off the back of the pickup truck, then start walking up hill to the town. It’s an easy 10 minute walk and will definitely help you work off some of those calories gained by the pool. If you don’t have a local guide to take you around town, that’s not a problem, you will surely be accosted by locals offering their services. Just be smart and negotiate every price with the understanding that the people generally make 80Q ($10USD) or less per day.

If you choose to shop at the most convenient locations, you’re going to pay a higher price and encounter more resistance in your bargaining than if you choose to walk uphill into town. The quality of the goods in the store is definitely quite good.

Our local guide i.e. village child … offered to take us to the people who make the ceramics. This turned out to be a little treasure hunt through some alleys in the village. It seemed like a scene out of a movie, where you’re surrounding by guns and cartel members asking for your kidneys. Thankfully, we didn’t let the paranoia of western media get to us and we eventually got to the center of it all. (It also helps when you have Guatemalan friends with you, to help navigate and scout the location for you!)

The pottery makers were kind enough to give us a tour and some explanations of their process. If you’re been a pottery demonstration or made pottery before, then you know the drill … but it was nice to see how things were made locally and see the environment in which it was made.

Once you’re done with your pottery tour … you can always buy some.
Tip: If you buy ceramics at the “factory”, it will be cheaper than buying it back on the streets. The only drawback is that you’re not going to find the variety that you might be looking for.
In town, you can also wander around looking through the two churches and catch the view over the lake and maybe make a friend!

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at rishi@rishiray.com

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