Santa Cruz del Quiché
Santa Cruz, the capital of the Quiché department, holds little of interest for foreign visitors when compared to Chichicastenango, just 18 kilometers away, though facilities and services are adequate if you should find yourself needing to spend the night.
There is quite a bit of history surrounding this town, including the old K’iche’ capital of K’umarcaaj, also known as Utatlán thanks to Pedro de Alvarado’s Mexican allies. It was here that Alvarado and his men were invited to sign a formal surrender by the defeated K’iche’s after the showdown near Quetzaltenango.
The surrender turned into wholesale slaughter when Alvarado suspected a trap and enticed the K’iche’ rulers outside the safety of their city walls and then charged them with treason and burned them at the stake.
More recently, Quiché, as it’s better known, housed an army garrison and the surrounding countryside was the site of intense battles between guerrilla and army forces during the civil war. The villages to the north suffered greatly during the conflict, particularly those in an area known as the Ixil Triangle. Today, the city serves mostly as a transit point for travelers heading north to these exquisite villages and their fantastic surroundings, which have become increasingly attractive in the advent of peace.
Getting to Santa Cruz del Quiché
The city bus depot is four blocks south and then two blocks east of the central plaza. Several of the buses heading to Chichicastenango from Guatemala City continue this way. There are buses every 30 minutes between 3 a.m. and 5 p.m. heading back toward Guatemala City, stopping at Chichicastenango and the Los Encuentros junction along the way.
If you’re heading north, there are eight daily buses to Nebaj (2.5 hours, $3) between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. All of these stop in Sacapulas (one hour, $1.50) along the way, meaning there is also hourly service to this city during the same period.
A road linking Santa Cruz del Quiché directly to Huehuetenango, to the west, may be a reality by the time you read this.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com