The Reality of San Antonio

What’s it really like here in the town? I was about to answer an email from a person asking about specific “services” here and decided it was worth posting a generic bit of information for all of you.

This first photo is looking toward the south end of San Antonio Palopó (which is where we are located) from a boat traveling from San Lucas Toliman to San Antonio. If you look at the full-size photo you can see us just above and to the right of the yellow house.

We are about 800 meters south of the center of town and the housing density is much less than in the center of town.

Moving on toward the center, this photo is of two girls who I know who live with their family in a small house. The “road” is a trail I walk down regularly to get from Casa Colonial to the center of town. Along it you see houses made from concrete block, adobe, wood and lamina.

There are over 8000 people living in the town — mostly families with children living in little houses. People tend to be financially poor but culturally rich. That is, most in traditional dress and speaking Kachiquel at home.

There are nine “Gringos” (basically any foreigner) living here and some tourism. I have never heard of any issue with “cultural differences”. If you are looking for a “tourist destination”, try somewhere like Panajachel. On the other hand, if you want to meet the locals, you can’t beat San Antonio Palopó.

Besides residences there are small businesses.

  • Neighborhood tiendas exist all over. Small stores that sell essentials from beans to toilet paper. Most have refrigerators so they are where you go for cold drinks and cheese. But, because most people don’t have their own refrigerator, selling 1/4 lb. pieces of cheese is common.
  • The center of town is where there are two churches and the public market plus some assorted tiendas. Two or three days a week you will find fresh chicken and beef in the market. Most days you will find bananas, beans, tomatoes, potatoes and other assorted fruits and vegetables.
  • There is no bakery but many tiendas sell bread (really just various types of rolls) which are brought in daily.
  • The only prepared food you will find are tostadas in the market, fried chicken (in the evening) in a couple of locations, one local restaurant, Charly’s Ceviche and a slightly more advanced menu in two hotels.
  • There are a few stores that sell locally made ceramics and cloth articles.
  • There is a hardware store with limited stock but associated with a larger store in Panajachel.