Last updated on June 20, 2010
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?!