Tuesday, April 21, 2009 6:56 AM
Guatemala Road Trip - Market Day in Momostenango and the Search for Rompopo
This was one of those days that where everything just seemed to conspire against us. Now ten days into our trip, we have become accustomed to getting ourselves completely turned around and lost. It seems that no matter how many maps we consult, we aways end up having to stop and ask for directions several times enroute. This day would be no different, but for some reason, the stresses of manuevering our big truck through unmarked narrow streets clearly designed for pedestrians and horses really took a toll on our good humor and spirit of adventure. To make matters worse, our ultimate destination, Momostenango, a mountain village famous for its thick blankets woven from deer and goat hair, turned out to be disappointing. The market was haphazard and dirty and nowhere we wanted to investigate in any detail. We found a few blankets in one of the local shops but the designs were unattractive and the wool was scratchy, certainly not something we need back home on the Riviera Maya. That being said, having experienced the cold mountain nights, I can see why these blankets would be popular.
After getting lost (again) we found a back route, down south, out of the mountains, toward Xela. Hungry and grumpy, we still had one more stop to make before calling it a day. I was bound and determined to not have this day be a total loss, so I steered us in the direction of Sajcaja, a small town known for two locally made spirits, Rompopo and Caldo de Frutas. Of course, once again, we wandered aimlessly through the tight sreets and alleys, following vague directions from local shop keeps to various locations where we might find the brews we were seeking. Finally, we arrived at the "Fabrica de Rompopo" and managed to purchase not only this sickly, yellow eggnog-like substance but also an unlabeled bottle of the foggy, punch-like concoction known only as "caldo de frutas", directly translated as fruit broth.
Feeling slightly more satisfied with ourselves we wandered back into Xela, and immediately taste tested our two new purchases back at the hotel. Rob was more parcial to the caldo de frutas, which tasted much like a fermeted version of the traditional Mexican ponch we enjoy at Christmas time. The Rompopo was as described in all the guidebooks, better tasting than it looks and essentially like sweet, spirited eggnog. While I could never drink very much of it in one sitting, I found the Rompopo quite delicious and am hoping to drag the rest of the bottle home with me.
Tomorrow, what is sure to be a highlight of this trip: world famous market day in Chichicastenango.