I have seen those huge foreign markets on documentaries that are busy, buzzing, noisy, colourful and electrifying and have always wanted to visit one. Well today, my dream came true.
Chichicástenango is a full on smack to the senses as smells, sights, sounds fly towards you from every angle without respite. We walked around for about three hours and only saw about a third of it too! There were so many stalls selling so many things that you don’t get a rest for a second; if you try, there will always be someone coming up to you trying to sell you a whistle, drum, cloth, etc.
After a quick lesson on Spanish numbers on the drive up the mountain out of Sololá, I was armed with some vocabulary to fully embrace the experience of the national pastime of bartering. As a stranger to this custom, it was something I was initially unsure of, but it was great fun. Bargains were to be had if you had the knack, and as a group we left with an array of items/crafts for personal and professional use.
The food market was the most fascinating area, and looking down from the balcony was something I could have done all day. I didn’t even mind when one of the stall owners threw beans at me when my back was turned.
We also got to visit Santo Tomas Church, a Catholic church that also embraces Maya religious rituals, we saw traditional incense being burned on the steps outside as we approached.
The steps are older than the church, as they originally led up to Maya temple before the Spanish arrived.
It was exhausting though, as there wasn’t a second of peace to relax, I must have said either “No gracias” or “Estoy mirando” hundreds of times.
I loved every hectic minute of it.