We left Antigua on Thursday morning and drove to the town of Chichicastenango. This town (sometimes called “chichi” for short) is well-known for the large market there on Thursdays and Sundays. It attracts many tourists as indigenous (mayan) folks from surrounding communities come to sell their textiles, carvings, and artwork. It is true market and provides a place for sale and purchase of fruits, vegetables, dry goods and just about anything else you can imagine – like flowers, plants, incense, livestock, tools, fish, and meat. Here we encountered our first black tortillas, mounds of dried fish, and a maze of booths and people. The sights, sounds and smells of Chichicastenango really must be experienced first-hand to be appreciated.
At the end of the market is the Church of Santo Tomas. This is a Catholic church but like many Catholic churches in Guatemala allows for Mayan traditions – including Mayan rituals of burning incense and making offerings. The church was undergoing some renovations on Thursday so the actual sanctuary was not open. That didn’t matter much as the steps leading up to the Church were (and usually are) the scene of Mayan activities. Incense was burning and the potent smoke wafted down the steps and into the market.
After walking all over the market, we bought a few items and headed on our way to Lake Atitlan.