The farthest from Nebaj of the two other towns in the Ixil Triangle, San Gaspar Chajul is the northern point of the three and has a very distinctive feel. On the road coming into town youâ€™ll pass some great examples of adobe houses with the red cloths of the womenâ€™s skirts hanging out to dry. The locals tend to spend a lot of their time outside: kids play their games on the street and the women do their back-strap weaving on the front porch. You will also see them doing their washing down at the stream which runs through the village. Traditionally they wear earrings made of old coins hung on woollen-string and their huipiles are fantastic shades of embroidered animals. However tempting, remember that taking photographs is frowned upon here and you should respect peopleâ€™s privacy.
The square, although pretty filthy and definitely lived-in, has a very interesting colonial church, the site of a pilgrimage during lent. It is also in this square where Rigoberta Menchu claims she saw her brother and other suspected anti-government sympathisers publicly executed by the army, as described in her book. Although this terrible event did definitely take place, Menchuâ€™s account, the date it occurred and even whether she was actually there have been called into question by the research of American author David Stoll which has sadly cast a shadow over the authenticity of her autobiography.
The Museo Maya Ixil de Chajul a block down from the square holds some interesting displays on local hunting and weaving techniques. Thereâ€™s an arcade-games salon on the square too, if you fancy a go at old-school space invaders. There is a Banrural on the square does not have an ATM but will change dollars. There is a pharmacy nearby.
Hotel Gaspar, a couple of blocks west from the square, has a fresh feel. It appears quite new and clean. The rooms, at Q50-70 per person ($6-8.40), are bright and clean with hot water, T.V., and locally crafted heavy wooden doors. There is a center courtyard with greenery, street parking and a laundry service available (if you ask). Tel: 502-4038-5623.
Another option is the Hotel El Descanso, a little father away from the square but on the road into the center, by the bridge. Tel: 502-7755-4001/4478. Along the road is the turning off to the Posada Vetz Kâ€™aol, the owner of which serves up tasty home-cooked meals. Tel: 502-7765-6115.
Food options are definitely lacking in Chajul so if youâ€™re coming for the day you might bring a packed lunch. You could try Comedor Mary, a comedor tipico which cooks up basic breakfasts and set meals. There are some food stalls around the plaza.
From Nebaj take one of the regular mini buses that come this way. Baltazar Lines runs buses from Chajul to Santa Cruz del QuichĂ©. Tel: 502-5721-7863.
Born and raised in Yorkshire, England, Jo is currently working as a freelance travel writer in Latin America. With degrees in...