Jep. That’s how my fellow travelers responded when I told them to go Chichicastenango for a Guatemalan market. “What and where is Chichicastenango?!” Let me make you hungry for a cultural day at this colorful place.
Of course you are everyones friend when you walk around in a Latin-American market place. “Precio especial para ti amiga” will echo through the streets of what I like to call Chichi.
From Mayan backpacks to weaved bracelets to even bricks for your house. You can find it all. If you like shopping, perhaps for souvenirs or just because you’re someone who enjoys shopping, than Chichi has to be on your Guatemala itinerary.
Capturing traditions in Chichi
Besides shopping, Chichi is great for photography. One of my personal reasons of visiting this market was the opportunity Chichi gives to see local traditions and capture them.
I walked up to a church where I noticed an old man waving around with incense in a candle holder and at the same time talking to himself. As soon as he was done I approached him to ask what kind of spirit he was praying to and what his name was. Miguelito explained to me with a bright smile existing of only one tooth that he wanted to get rid of the bad spirits and that he was praying for better health.
Another church stood right across the street and as I crossed the market to walk up to it I saw a lady sitting on the staircase of the church from a distance. As I got closer I realized that she was having a big bag of firewood piled up on her back. It was all attached with a rope to a pad on her forehead. Once I finally stood in front of the church she was done resting and tried to stand up with the big pile of wood on her back. She must have been about 60 years old – difficult to guess… She couldn’t manage to stand up anymore by herself and so a local guy quickly came to help her get up by holding the weight on her back. She slowly yet full of confidence continued her voyage through the narrow streets of the market and left me amazed of the power she had.
How to get there?
Firstly you have to be in Guatemala or nearby, of course, to be able to get to Chichi. The easiest way is to combine your market visit with a transfer from or to Antigua or Lake Atitlán. For 125 Quetzales you should be able to find transfers that will bring you from, for example, Lake Atitlán to Chichicastenango, guard your belongings on the bus during your 3 or 4 hour market visit and bring you to Antigua after Chichi. A touroperator called Bigfoot offers this service.
Want to have a better idea of how the market looks like? Here are some of my other photos of Chichi.
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