The extensive market of Santo Tomas Chichicastenango in Guatemala is a delightfully vibrant and overwhelming experience; a must visit destination for tourists and savvy travelers alike.
Though most of the Guatemalan handicrafts and textiles at Little Mango Imports are purchased in their respective villages, I always enjoy attending the “Chichi Market” while in Guatemala. I have been visiting the Chichi Market since before I was old enough to remember, but I still find something fascinating to purchase or photograph on every visit.
Arriving early in the morning allows me to watch the transformation of the dirty streets into a pulsing, busy mix of colors and smells. At 5’5”, I tower above most of the indigenous Maya, while weaving my way through the streets and makeshift alleys. An occasional mortar aerial bomb is shot off from the church steps.
The deafening noise is especially startling for those experiencing the market for the first time; my travel companion John leapt to the ground the first time he heard a mortar in the market! On most religious holidays, a parade of Catholic Saints winds its way through the market, a rewarding sight for visitors. Fresh-cut flowers, incense and weary locals decorate the church steps.
Vendors’ tarps provide shade from the intense sun and rain showers. The unique handicrafts and exceptional weavings clutter tables and hang from improvised beams. Of course, as with most Latin American markets, bartering is a ‘gringo’ must. Though a fun and educational experience, I have thankfully become a familiar face in the market and am occasionally spared participation in the ‘bartering game’.
A long, exciting market day culminates with bus dodging to return to my car.
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