Monday, March 15, 2010

Sunday at One of Central America's Most Famous Markets

Yesterday, I visited Chichicastenango (or Chichi, for short)! Chichi is an otherwise not-too-special-town about two hours away from NPH, nestled in a cute little valley. It's pretty much your standard Guatemalan town -- except for Thursdays and Sundays. On Thursdays and Sundays, Chichi hosts its world-famous market, and it's definitely a must-see day trip.

Local artesans and farmers travel into Chichi from the surrounding Mayan villages on Wednesday or Saturday, camp out that night, and then join one of the craziest markets you'll ever see the next morning.

It wasn't that the market was necessarily huge (there are probably others that cover more ground), but it was more that it was set up like a giant maze of tarp-covered stalls selling literally everything you could want or need: fruits, veggies, meat, live animals, clothing, shoes, jewelry, toys, wooden masks, purses, yarn, kitchen utensils, and all types of tourist souvenirs. The cobblestone pathways were tiny, and they wound from one vendor to the next. I rarely had any idea where I was, and about every five feet I passed another street, jutting off with another 30 stalls. It was like I was walking through the world's biggest, most never-ending craft store. :)

Any interest in buying a live chicken?

Chichi also has two pretty white churches on either side of its main plaza (which you can visit, once you can figure out you're actually in the main plaza), and both are filled with stone platforms containing candles and flower petals. There's a decorative stone arch at one end of town, and the most colorful cemetery I have ever seen at another end! All in all, a very cute place.

Iglesia de Santo Tomás

Smaller church opposite Santo Tomás

Such a cool view of the market-covered central plaza!

El Arco

That brightly colored row of buildings? The cemetery. Crazy, huh?

So Sunday I woke up early, caught a bus to Chichi, meandered my way through the crowded market for a while, visited both churches, snapped photos of the crazy-colored cemetery, allowed myself one purchase (jelly shoes -- see the next blog entry haha), found an adorable breakfast spot, wandered the market a little bit more, then decided it was time to head back on a bus. I was back here by late afternoon.

Great town, great must-see market, great trip. Definitely a great day. Enjoy the photos!

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