After travelling for hours to get away from there, why would we spend our only free day for the week (we were studying at our Spanish school Tuesday-Saturday one week and Monday-Friday the second) travelling back in the general direction of Antigua?
Well just to the north of the city lies Chichicastenango, which on Thursdays and Sundays plays host to what is apparently the largest market in Central America.
Now if you know (or have at least read many of our posts), you’ll realise that for us, that is pretty much the equivalent of a red rag to a bull!
So after collecting a slightly hungover Amie (an English girl we’d met on the boat to Caye Caulker and kept bumping into since) from outside her hostel, we were on our way to the Chichi Markets, at least after our van collected us about 15 minutes late that is.
A few hours later it had deposited us in Chichicastenango but a short walk from the market.
First impressions didn’t disappoint, at least from a colour perspective.
The open aired passageways were open enough that you could get through, yet narrow enough that it did certainly feel busy (and encouraged you to stick to one side of the path as you walked through).
We love the idea of grabbing local crafts, however we’ve been somewhat reserved thus far given the possible need for us to either carry it for a very long time, or foot the additional cost of sending anything home.
There was at least one goal in our minds. Finding something for Julie (Sarah’s mother), whose birthday was fast approaching.
It also became fairly apparent to us that our friend Amie was an incredibly shrewd (or perhaps that should read stubborn) hand when it came to bargaining.
Despite its grid like layout, the market was cluttered enough that it wasn’t all that difficult to lose ones bearings, and occasionally we would pop out onto a busy street having accidently exited at an unexpected location.
There was however one very handy location we were able to use as a landmark (okay, well I was able to use in any case), a charming white church, before which seemed to huddle the entire markets complement of flower sellers.
We found a local eatery for lunch where we utilised their Menu del Dia (Menu of the day) which cost us about $25.00 Quetzales each.
It was an elevated street-side location that I’d hoped would afford us some nice views over the market.
The lunch itself was pretty tasty, complete with a vegetable soup entrée, however my dreams for market views, despite our table right in the window were quickly shattered (we couldn’t see much further than across the narrow street).
Some (Amie) bought up big, and left with a bag well weighted with goodies. Others (Sarah and I) just bought a little, but still enjoyed the colour, buzz and bustle of this lovely Guatemalan market.
There was some repetition amongst the stalls (few seemed to stock anything that was uniquely theirs), but that was okay, as we never had our hearts truly set on anything anyway.
* We followed our usual method of shopping around until we found a tour operator selling tickets to Chichicastenango for $50.00 Quetzales per person (this particular shop was down a laneway not far from ‘The Language Hub’).