Friday, April 30, 2010

Chichicastenango - Land of the Chichicas (a plant with nettles)

Chichicastenango is THE market city in Guatemala. It has been an important trading town since the 15th century, so it makes sense that it has become the market hot spot for the country. Thursday and Friday are the big market days. I plan to return...and if you get a gift from Guatemala, chances are, I got it in Chichicastenango.
Our first stop was to visit the nicest hotel in town full of bubbling fountains, eating parrots and blossoming plants around every corner. Welcome to Hotel Santo Tomas, where rooms go for about $90 a night.
They have a pool, jacuzzi, bar, restaurant and plenty of noocks to take a breather and enjoy the day.
At the south end of the market stands proudly and honorably the pure white Eglesia de Santo Tomas. The marble steps fill up with flower vendors from different pueblos. On Sundays Mayan prayer leaders from Chichi and abound swing their cans of incense of Copal resin as they chant prayers on the steps and entrance of Santo Tomas.
The streets fill up quickly by dawn with vendors from the surrounding areas. You can buy pretty much anything in, when I say anything, I don't mean anything like in Bangkok or Phnom Pen where drugs and women and everything in between could be bought.
It's a market with handicrafts, art, clothing, spices, food, fruit, machine parts, bathroom products,...but mostly it's for tourists, because we are the ones with the money.
If you feel brave enough, you can compare prices for hours until you bargain for the best one. Or buy some hanging meat.
You'll find brightly colored stalls with wool blankets, colorful animal masks, hand-embroidered clothes, and scarves of every color and weave in pretty much every stall. If you have requests, please send them soon:) The market starts breaking down between 2 and 3pm, which is when you can get the cheapest goods. Would you want to carry all that stuff back home with you? Exactly.
Chichicastenango is also a great place for people watching. Local interactions, and just relaxing on the church steps watching the bustle of the market.

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