Taking On 'Chichi' Market in Guatemala
Travelling to Chichicastenango market in Guatemala, we were well-prepared to weave through crowds of tourists, bartering over mere centavos for the weird and wonderful produce of one of the busiest and largest crafts markets in the world. Despite being well-informed, we were blown away by the size of it, appearing to be a city in itself. Hundreds of make-shift stalls are connected through winding alleys spreading to eternity, with ornate weavings hanging from wires criss-crossing overhead and everywhere you look you’re overwhelmed by colour and creativity. Young boys zoom past the buyers, meandering from kiosk to kiosk, swapping change and product with each other for the buyer who has taken interest in their propped-up stall of goodies. You could honestly spend hours investigating everything on offer here and not even cover half of the market.
We were quite surprised to feel completely immersed in something ‘real’, perhaps it was just the luck of the day, but tourists really stood out here, especially in comparison to markets we’ve visited in other Latin American countries, and that’s a sure sign of a pretty untouched environment – my kind of place. We could have filled our suitcases with hand-woven hammocks, Mayan masks and beautifully carved wooden instruments, but we resisted (mostly for the lack of space in our bags – noted as a rookie error for next time) and only purchased small gifts for friends, such as hand-made purses and leather belts of vivid colours.
Visiting markets abroad is one of our favourite things to do – you can learn more about a community or culture by watching people interacting in a hectic market, going about their day to day life, than almost anywhere else. In Guatemala especially, we loved ambling through chaotic food markets and watching local women practising traditional weaving techniques, as each village has a traditional dress with its individual pattern and bright colours, and the people-watching is fantastic.
Top Tip: One important piece of advice for all those visiting Guatemala – if you see a particular textile pattern or colour combination that you love, do not wait to buy it later on somewhere else, because you will NEVER find the same pattern twice!
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