If you’re a big fan of outdoor markets, you’ll certainly enjoy this one. In addition to the crowds of vendors and potential buyers you’ll find a dizzying array of good-quality weavings, pottery, fabrics, gourds, and masks, to name just a few.
On the stairs of the adjacent Iglesia Santo Tomás, you’ll see Mayans waving incense burners, filling the air with the pungent smell of corozo palm and adding an additional aura of mystique to this chaotic market that is a feast for the senses.
There are certainly more authentic indigenous highland markets, but what makes Chichicastenango Market unique is its accommodation of visitors’ needs and desires for traditional handicrafts into a twice-weekly event (Sunday and Thursday) that would otherwise continue undeterred for the benefit of the locals it has always catered to.
Most of the better handicrafts are found in the central part of the plaza, but be prepared to rummage through piles of lesser-quality stuff, which is readily in abundance. In addition to the main part of the plaza, there are stalls peddling tourist-oriented trinkets along the streets to the north of it. The streets to the south and the centro comercial on the plaza’s north side are home to the everyday items villagers come to market for, including fruits and vegetables, clothing, spices, household items, and baked goods.
As in all of Guatemala’s markets, haggling is in order. The best time to get a good deal on anything that might have caught your fancy is after 3 p.m., when the market starts to wind down. You can often score substantial price reductions simply by walking away and feigning disinterest. It’s all a very complex game.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com