It would be a colorful shopping extravaganza.
Chichicastenango is a mountain town lying roughly 2 1/2 hours northwest of Guatemala City. The city streets are transformed every Thursday and Sunday as the K’iche’ Maya from surrounding areas, as well as others from all over Guatemala, set-up shop to sell their traditional handicrafts, foods, and even livestock. Vendors will arrive the night before to construct their stalls, and begin to arrange their products in the wee hours of the morning.
Chichi Market in Chichicastenango
We woke up early Sunday morning in order to attempt to beat the crowds, before the buses from Guatemala arrived. In the early afternoon the hordes of people can be hard to squeeze through. We started at one end of the several block market and worked our way down.
The first section was apparently the poultry department; dozens of vendors had there chickens, turkeys and ducks in baskets trying to convince folks that their product was a better buy.
A couple ladies were even selling tiny kittens for pets.
It appeared that this area was not meant for foreign travelers, but rather the many “tourists” that were actually Guatemalans who traveled from Guatemala City or surrounding neighborhoods within the country.
We strolled up and down the side streets of Chichi market perusing the items for sale which included, handmade pottery, wooden masks, medicinal herbs and multi-colored tapestries. Many of the pieces were of the highest quality workmanship, while others were manufactured in the many factories in and around Chichicastenango.
Either way, you are bound to find a souvenir.
We carried on through the central place to the steps of the 400 year old Iglesia de Santo Tomás church, which on this Sunday was covered in flower vendors. They shared these steps with the stray dogs who made themselves comfortable amongst the bouquets. Many of the flowers bought here today would be taken to the nearby cemetery to pay respects to the deceased.
We entered the church through the side door, as the front doors are reserved for locals and church officials. Inside we caught a baptism in progress, a dozen little ones all dressed in white waiting to get blessed.
At the bottom of the churches 18 steps, they were selling fresh fruits and vegetables; plump blackberries and perfect wild mushrooms.
Photogenic and mouth watering.
While hiking the Pacaya volcano just the day before, I fell in love with a local delicacy sold by a trail vendor. The orange con pepita (oranges with crushed pumpkin seed) was delicious and I knew that my souvenir from Chichi market was going to be some crushed pepitas because the taste of them could not possibly be duplicated in America. With the help of our guide and the two security guards who followed us around the market, I found a vendor who sold what I was looking for.
I bought 1/4 pound for 10 Quetzal ($1.30 USD). An edible souvenir.
After leaving Chichi market, before the crowds has arrived, I wished I was going to be in Chichicastenango for another week so I could do it all over again.
Address: btw 7a & 8a Calle, Chichicastenango, Guatemala | MAP
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My trip to Guatemala was hosted by Visit Guatemala, but all opinions are my own.