After Lago de Atitlan we decided to do a one night stop in a small town called Chichicastenango which was just north of the lake. Chichicastenango is famous for its huge market on Thursdays and Sundays and we were excited to see what kinds of things we could find there. We spent the morning in Pana doing some catch up online and then we went to the main street to grab some lunch before setting off to Chichicastenango. It didn’t take very long to get there by car, but once we got close we started hitting some switch backs and traffic. Looks like everyone was on their way for the market the following day!
We checked into a very welcoming hotel run by a nice man named Manuel and he got us settled in for the evening. We told him we were there for the market the following day and he said that was great, but to be careful of pickpockets and to hide our money well. He said to beware of people bumping into us. We graciously thanked him for the advice and then headed out into the town t check things out before the hustle and bustle of the market.
The following morning we set off back into town for the market! The market was HUGE and engulfed most of the towns streets. It was very easy to get lost and everyone seemed to like it that way. People from all over the hills near Chichicastenango came to set up makeshift tents and stands to sell everything from produce, meat, plants, handicrafts, souveniers, old trinkets, stones, old electronics, cooked food, livestock, pirated movies and music, tools, clothes, and just about everything in between.
The church in Chichicastenango also had some religious rituals going on which included some men and women at the tops of the steps burning some incense-like coals and waving them around while praying or giving offerings to the church. You can sort of see a man in the upper left corner of the above picture in front of the church, while everyone else at the base of the steps is concentrating on making a few Quetzales by selling flowers or items for offering.
I seriously almost bought one of these baby chickens at the market. I would have made him a little box to sit in while we drove around, but then the guy selling them said they were for eating by pointing at the chickens, sliding his hand downward in a chopping motion and then saying “Por comida.” Poor guys :(
Here is a panoramic of the market while we stood atop another church on the opposite end. This is only about 1/8th of the entire market. The rest was tucked in between all of the streets and inside some of the buildings as well.
As we left the market, we saw one of the streets on the outskirts of the market. The tuk tuks were parading up and down the street carting in people from all over the town to get to and from the market. There was also a makeshift bus station nearby where lots of vans brought people from all over the neighboring towns.
The market was incredible and we didn’t have any problems with pickpockets or general unfriendliness. Just before we left we found a second story cafe and had some coffee before setting off back to the hotel to retrieve our car and head back to Antigua to meet our friend, Adrian. If you ever find yourself in Guatemala, definitely make a stop at Chichicastenango on a Thursday or Sunday for market day. Especially if you love shopping!