A Little Market… I’ll be the Toast of Chichicastenango

Last updated on June 20, 2010

Chichicastenango market
Beautiful blankets for sale at the market.

The bright colors of Guatemala take their palette from a kindergarten classroom, or perhaps from the toucans and macaws that inhabit the country’s forests. The brilliant reds mix with saffrons made of liquid sunshine and blues right out of the darkest depths of the ocean.

I’ve milked just about story possible out of Guatemala except for the markets. I love markets all over the world and until Guatemala India held the top spot in my heart; now the two countries compete for the honor of most diverse and brilliant hued marketplaces.

Chichicastenango: Huge, Dense, & a Tad Overwhelming

Rosie didn’t do Chichicastenango justice when she sarcastically mentioned this now iconic Central American market in Bye Bye Birdie (any other musical nerds? anyone? Bueller?), but Chichi market place is certainly deserving of a both a song and half a day. Held every single Thursday and Sunday villagers from all over the Western Highlands in Guatemala bring their wares and textiles to flesh out the permanent stalls in this medium size town that swells in size on market days.

I actually have mixed feelings about Chichicastenango market, another traveler referred to it as the Walmart of Guatemala—a name both a funny and apt. The experience was neat but I would actually skip it if I were traveling on a tight timeline … but that’s just me, other travelers fell in love!

Antigua’s Artisan’s Market: Great Deals, Friendly Bartering, & High Quality

As far as market’s go the Artisan’s market in Antigua was my favorite place to actually to pick up some trinkets and presents for the kids in my life back home. The vendors pay a pretty penny to locate themselves within the Artisan’s market which results in a higher end selection of goods in most cases.

Additionally, and it cannot be overrated, just outside of the Artisan’s Market is Antigua’s local market for fresh fruit and veggies. A mere 5Q (about 60 cents) yields a heaping cup full of fresh fruit and when I parted with another 5Q a nearby stall handed over a plate full of freshly grilled plantain—does lunch get much better than that?

Although India’s markets are legendary because you can find the absolute most random items, Guatemala’s gentle Mayan vendors with their soft sell and fun fabrics leave me still smiling now as I look at my questionably tacky purse with clashing fabrics, mixed patterns, embroidery and nearly every other style of handiwork all on one lovely little bag—it’s my favorite souvenir yet.

Friends in LA once I got there last month informed me that this purse is actually really tacky. It sends me straight back to Guatemalan every time I look at it though! What do you think? Tacky or gorgeous?!

9 thoughts on “A Little Market… I’ll be the Toast of Chichicastenango”

  1. I've not yet had the chance to visit Guatemala – but hope I have the opportunity soon. You have been to many wonderful places and are an inspiration. Scotland is one of my main haunts – and I LOVE traveling…

    • Agreed about Scotland Janice, it wad so beautiful when I visited and I
      hope to go back one day soon. If you ever make it to Guatemala let me
      know and I would love to give tips! :)

  2. Definitely tacky but that's the beauty of it. The item stands out, it's a conversation piece and brings memories of travel :)

  3. I think you can make the bag work — if you go totally hipster with the rest of your look. A once-in-a-while bag, not an all-time time bag!

    • Thanks for weighing in Kate and sorry for the epically late reply- I
      think you're right that it can work on occaision!

  4. We didn't make it to Chichicastenango on our visit to Guatemala, but I do second your opinion about the Antigua fresh market. Everyone says how touristy Antigua is, but we found that once we got past the entrance the market was just as “authentic” and fun as any other market in Guatemala!

    Our favorite market in Guatemala was San Francisco El Alto outside of Totonicapan/Xela. The animal market there provided endless amusement.

  5. Markets are always fun abroad.

    The bag is one of those things that are quintessential when travelling but bring up a 'why did I buy that?' question when back home :P

    • Sorry for the epically late reply but I tend to agree on the ethnic
      bag comment-it worked so well abroad!

      Have you ever bought something that just doesn't make the transition


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