The markets at Chichicastetenango are really interesting. I never considered myself to be a market person, but I ended up having a lot of fun – I got to do some souvenir shopping, but best of all, truly connect with the culture.
You can take market-day shuttles from many places, including Pana, San Marcos, and other towns, that generally give you five hours of exploring time. This was a very good amount of time – at the end, I ended up doubling over some stalls and roads I had already traversed, but I got the chance to see things I hadn’t seen the first time, and I also had a little bit of time for some comidas tipicas – beans, rice, veggies (including guacamole), tortillas.
I’ve always hated to bargain, but I became such a skilled bargainer that some of the vendors began to hate me. One guy who I bought several things from, including an amazing birthday gift for my mother, groaned when I offered a price as my final price – and then he ultimately accepted it. There were plenty of great gifts for my coworkers who have been picking up the slack for me, but others, like my father, well, there are less gifts for men.
The turistica stuff is on the outer rim of the market, but the inside is where the naccionales shop. There are live chickens, flowers, confetti, notebooks, highlighters (I got one for my Spanish studying), breads, delicious cookies, veggies, butchers, fruits, stalls selling food…it was a lot of fun to watch and take pictures…super interesting. I was the only gringa shopping in this part. I got a lot of stares, but it was super interesting. I felt like it was a good way to learn how the naccionales shop.
I ended up buying so many things I’m weighing down my pack. A pillow case? It’s quite lovely and will look great in my bedroom, but really? It was a lot of fun.
I also went on a Sunday so I got to watch the religious ceremonies in the church, including people crawling on their knees across the dirty floor, praying loudly, with candles in hands, and flowers scattered on the floors.
At the end of the day, wandering, lonely, lost, within the stalls of beautiful vibrant colours, vendors shouting, bargaining people – I knew I was leaving with a lot more than I had bought.