Chichicastenango, Guatemala – Market Day!Posted by Kim
Sunday, we traveled across the Guatemalan highlands to one of the largest open-air markets in the country in a town called Santo Tomás Chichicastenango. Saint Thomas is the town’s patron saint, and many of the boys’ are given Tomás as a first name. The rest of the town’s name is Mayan and means “the place of the Chichicaste plant.” Chichicaste being a poisonous hedge ivy with tiny hairs on its leaves that cause intense itching when touched.
We didn’t touch any, so we can’t speak to that aspect. But we did love the town. It’s one of the two sites Fred and I got to see 3 1/2 years ago, and he wanted to be sure we brought the boys to see it this time, too.
A number of tourism groups take buses to Chichicastenango, so if you’re looking for a well-traveled road, a place to barter for some great authentic (or tourist-y) souveniers, and a place that’s accustomed to (and eager to host!) foreigners, this is the one for you. Market days are Sunday and Thursday every week.
Scenes from Chichicastenango:Maya homes in the surrounding hillsides.
The road into the central part of town.
Maya family heading to the market. Some families start out before daylight and walk hours to get there.
Iglesia Santo Tomás, built by the Spanish in the 1540’s on the top of a pre-Columbian Maya temple. Maya priests and Shamans share the space with the Catholic priests (they take turns holding Mass and then peforming Maya rituals).
The Indoor Produce Market Did you catch the sleeping baby?
The Outdoor Market
A little girl followed Fred around for 10 minutes trying to convince him to buy this stuffed turtle. He didn’t need it or want it. Those of you who work with Fred can now visit this little gem in his office.
On occasion of a saints’ festival overlapping market day, congregants from the local church strike up a parade right down the aisles of the market itself. Setting off fireworks right up into the air as they go. Startling at first but talk about getting right into the cultural experience!