Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pa'laq ja' -The Standing Water-

Pa'laq ja' is the land of the Maya Poqomam descendants and remains as one of the few municipalities in the lowlands where ancient traditions are still observed, and the only one in Escuintla where women wear the typical costume. This is Palin.
The name in Poqomam that translates as "standing water", is a reference of the town's location: right on the slopes of the Agua Volcano. The current name, Palin, is a Nahuatl-origin voice that translates as "place of strong winds" and is a reference of the windy phenomenon that occurs from November to February.
The area is surrounded by intense volcanic activity, so there are several places with thermal and sulfurous springs and swimming pools.
One of the main features of Palin that I remember the most, is the enormous Ceiba Pentandra tree (Guatemala's national tree) in the center of the central plaza, which according to the records, was planted during the founding of the town on July 30, 1535.
Before the new toll highway was built, Palin was a stop in the route to El Puerto (the beach). That stop had the purpose to buy fresh produce and fruits whose aromas seemed to be floating under the ceiba shade. Right now, I am thinking of the big, almost flat baskets full of anacates  displayed over bright green banana leaves (anacates are yellow umbrella-like mushrooms, related to the better known chanterelles)... What a treat! A chunky and simple anacates sauce poured over a tenderloin steak is like heaven.
Since the opening of the toll highway, Palin is no longer a regular stop for people going to El Puerto and the market is no longer open-air under the ceiba; even though, Palin continues to be an interesting place to visit.

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