The Annual Fair Comes to Guatemala’s Panajachel


It’s 4 am: the bombs were bursting when we went to bed, and for many hours in between bedtime and wake time.

Other signs of merriment include blocked roads, diverted traffic, an influx in population, amusement rides in the middle of town, and two weeks off of school for local students (since the school grounds have been commandeered by peddlers selling their wares…)

Then there’s the drunkenness. Pana already has it’s lot of imbibers whom you can find passed out on the streets Saturday and Sunday mornings.

But with the fair in town, you can find them now almost any morning of the week.Yes, the kids get two weeks off for the fair, despite parental disapprovement  who aren’t all that pleased about their kids idling around the fair unsupervised while they are off at work all day everyday.

But in spite of all this (and despite the protests of my husband who had no interest in going), we went to the fair —  for an afternoon (we wanted to avoid the night time revelry).

We walked from our house toward the mercado where the festivities commenced.

I don’t know if this woman and her husband were going to the fair or not, but she certainly looked festive.

It’s fascinating to live in a place where many of the locals wear a traditional dress (and speak a native indian language). I never get tired of seeing it. Much of the world has become ‘Americanized’ in their clothing, losing some of the original culture of a place.

In fact, much of their clothing is ‘leftovers’ from thrift stores in the United States — you’d be flabbergasted by the amount of ‘hand-me-downs’ from the U.S. that come through countries like Guatemala.

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.” James Michener

We reached the fair ‘grounds’ and headed directly for the ferris wheel — the kids ride of choice.


Hmmm… maybe there’s another option?

Here’s a very short video clip of the chaos and noise. (I couldn’t get anything longer because my camera card isn’t working right for recording video.)

This girl seemed to be having lots of fun, on this manually powered ‘merry-go-round’.

The kids decided to ride the smaller ferris wheel.

After the ferris wheel, the kids all got ice cream…

Then we left the centro and went in search of ‘real’ food.

Not here…

Or here…

Or here…

Definitely not here…

We did try some of these later, but they weren’t that good.

This is what the kids wanted.

The grown ups got gringas.

This guy was having lots of fun!

This guy? Not so much.

Rachel Denning
Rachel Denning is an unassuming mother of five who never really did any international traveling until she had four children. After a second honeymoon to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, she and her husband decided to sell most of their belongings and move their family abroad.

Driving from the United States to Panama, they settled in Costa Rica for a year, until the U.S. financial market crash in 2008, when they lost their location independent income. Returning to the United States to look for work, they knew they'd be back 'out' again, having been officially bitten by the travel bug!

Despite adjustments to living a simpler life (or perhaps because of it), they were able to save enough money to move to the Dominican Republic in 2009. After six months they came back to the States once more, where they were offered employment working with a non-profit organization in India.

They spent five months living in Tamil Nadu, then returned to the States once more (to Alaska) so they could have baby number five - Atlas.

From there, they set out in April of 2011 to drive, in a veggie powered truck, from Alaska to Argentina, visiting every continental country in North and South America.

Travel is a part of their life now, and they can't imagine doing anything else. Rachel photographs and writes about their incredible family travel adventures on their website, and they also have resources that encourage others to live a deliberate life.
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