One of the world’s great shopping experiences is the mayhem of Chichicastenango markets. The prices are way too tempting, so before she could stop herself, Intrepid’s Rachael Harvey was bagging bargains in Guatemala…
“Jostle for space with traditionally dressed locals, haggle to your heart’s content and ponder whether or not the whole Guatemalan population has turned up. Don’t be surprised if you leave with a backpack overflowing with vibrant textiles and handmade jewellery that you won’t find anywhere else.
It took me a little practice to learn how to say Chichicastenango, but just getting there, watching the scenery as we weaved our way up into the hills and trying not to fall off my overcrowded chicken bus seat made it worth the visit. Market day was Thursday, kind of unusual in itself. The colours and smells hit me before I found my way off the bus and I knew I was in for an interesting day. I’m not a shopper and was only a few months into a year-long trip, so I wasn’t really expecting to buy up big and have to lug things around with me for the rest of the time, but it was oh so alluring! The concentration of colours brightened the tiny little market town to give it a huge personality.
Chichicastenango is set in a remote little town in the highlands of Guatemala. Aside from the market, ‘Chichi’ surprised me with the colourful cemetary, prominent above the market in the hills. And wandering through the town itself was almost mystical, catching wafts of incense from local ceremonies being performed near and around the church.
Market day was a gathering place for local trade and gossip it seemed, with foreign visitors looking for a bargain and just drinking in the vibe. Of course there’s always a little pressure to buy something in a market, but I wanted to find a special reminder of this vibrant and strangely happy little town. Before I knew it, the dormant shopping instinct kicked in, and a couple of hours had passed slowly making my way in between the stalls and admiring the handiwork of the different women. I left ‘Chichi’ weary and satisfied with a day of exploration and a taste of what the local trade and rural life was like in a tiny little town in Guatemala.”
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* photo by Rachael Harvey