The biggest market in Central America: Chichicastenango
Chichicastenango, or Chichi as it’s known by the locals, is a small town home to what’s said to be Central America’s largest artesan market. The market, held Thursdays and Sundays, is the perfect place to buy handmade goods, and also to experience indigenous culture.
The market stretches for blocks in each direction from the main church of Chichicastenango, a beatiful white building upon whose steps you’ll find vendors, beggars, tourists, and indigenous women giving offerings with incense and fire.
In the market itself you can find any kind of handicraft you might imagine. Especially beautiful were the multicolored blankets, table clothes, and clothing sold by women dressed in their traditional clothing.
Be aware that the first price given is AT LEAST double, but often three times, what their final price is. Bargaining is a must! The vendors are mostly shy or annoyed with having their picture taken, but if you buy something and ask nicely they may give you permission.
In addition to the market, the town’s colorful cemetary located a few blocks away is worth a visit. Within the cemetary, several indigenous families were performing Mayan ceremonies. One man explained to Alejandro that he had come because his family is buying a house and needed to ask permission and forgiveness from the previous owners so that all would turn out well.
We took two chicken buses from San Pedro de Laguna on Lake Atitlán for a total of 20Q. In front of the church in San Pedro (next to the market), take the bus that leaves every two hours from 6am to 2pm in the direction of Guatemala City (15Q). Get off at Los Encuentros and get on another chicken bus for the rest of the way to Chichicastenango (5Q). Do the exact same trip on the way back.
Doing the trip this way will take at least 2 hours over some pretty exhausting roads. Although we had ridden chicken buses before, this was our first experience with how truly crowded they can get! They just kept squeezing more, and more, and more people on this bus…