Guatemalan Market Day!

Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
Trip End Sep 05, 2007

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Sunday, June 10, 2007

The plan was as you know, to take numerous chicken buses to the city of Antigua today. As you also should know by now, our itinerary is always flexible and we have a habit of changing our minds quite often!

So, after I had written that pod yesterday I heard some people in the internet cafe mention to each other that they were heading to Chichicastenango in the Quiche highlands for the famous Sunday market. Matt and I have a habit of being somewhere just after or just before it has happened! (full moon party in Ko Pha Ngan for example), so when I went back to our hostel last night we discussed it and decided that we had two options. The first was to take buses to Chichi (As it is know locally) see the market and then catch a bus to Antigua, but we would be in a crowded market with all of our valuables and our backpacks - not a good idea! So we decided to head there this morning as a daytrip from Panajachel, spend tonight back here and then tomorrow take buses to Antigua.

We are so glad we went, we would have missed out on a fantastic experience if we had not.
The market was huge! I mean huge, we expected to get off of the bus and try to find where the market was - no need, the market sprawled through what looked like each and every street in the town! There was a touristy section on the outskirts and then as you threw yourself in with the crowds you came upon the real market. As you can see in the photos there was a big inside bit where locals were selling and buying fruit and veggies, other sections sold candles and tupperware, clothes and secondhand goods. We soon came upon the food section. Local women from the highlands were making and cooking tortillas as we watched, the smell was putrid in some sections, especially where all of the dried chillies and fish were! Pot upon pot sat on a makeshift fire, which the ladies constantly stocked up with wood so that everything would keep cooking! We asked the price and were suprised to be quoted probably our cheapest meal yet since India. It was delicious too - Rice, tortillas, fried chicken, vegetables - just delicious.

So our tummies fed, we soon set about looking around the market for souvenirs and just generally having a wander. It was so much fun, there were so many people and it was so colourful. When it had all got too much we jumped on another chicken bus to the junction at Los Encuentros and then another to Solola, before our final bus took us back down to the lakeshore at Panajachel.

The drive was beautiful, rolling mountains and villages perched on the edge, kids played on the streets barefoot and men sat in groups on the side of the road chatting.

So, if anyone is coming to Guatemala we would certainly reccommend the market at Chichi, it is one of the largest markets in the country, and families turn up the day before, sleep out and then set up their stalls early in the morning. Families come from all of the surrounding villages in the highlands - it is a colourful, bustling affair.

Us, we head to Antigua tomorrow morning.


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