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Published: March 29th 2014
Initially I hadn't planned to check out the massive market in Chichicastenango. It is held every Thursday and Sunday and I wasn't sure if either of those days would fit into my plan. It's possible to visit on a day trip from Antigua or Lake Atitlán as many shuttles offer the service - for a price. But because I summited Volcán Tajumulco much earlier than anticipated, I ended up with plenty of time. After an extra rest day in Xela I took off for Chichi the day before the market to spend the night in order to get an early viewing before the tour buses and shuttles arrived.
A lot of stuff was set up Saturday afternoon in the market but I went back again at 7:30 in the morning. The expanse had doubled in size overnight and overtaken the hotel's street as well as many others. I liked it and I don't get people who say it's overrated and not worth it. Didn't seem to be overrun with tour bus crowds as I was expecting but I left ~10:00.
Also checked out Chichi's cemetery which was worth a stroll.
$US ≈ 7.7 Guatemalan quetzales
Chichicastenango (a.k.a., Chichi)
Aside from the market, not a whole lot going on in this town. Accommodation and food
Met someone on the bus from Xela and we split a twin room at Hotel Girón for Q120 but the first price offered was Q145 (maybe that one had a TV which in hindsight would have been nice as there's nuttin' going on in Chichi at night). The room did have a private bathroom with electric shower head which did not work in the morning because there was very little water pressure (town problem). The hotel has a pump to overcome that issue but for some reason it wasn't functioning just when I needed it. The previous day the pump loudly ran every 5 seconds until after 8 p.m. which was really annoying as I tried to take a cat nap in the afternoon. No WiFi at the hotel, no drinking water either although someone in the kitchen (brekky Q12-20 extra) did give me hot water so I could make my own coffee. Room was OK, firm mattress, quiet undisturbed night until the pump started running at 6:00.
There are a few other places in town. None of
them looked at all remarkable but could probably get a cheaper room than at the Girón. Only took one dinner and breakfast in Chichi, both at the unassuming Comedor La Valle, about a block north of the pizzeria. Good, filling dinners and breakfasts are Q20/15. They make their own killer chile sauce too. Fruit salads at the market are Q5 although they'll probably ask for more; licuados
are Q8. Standard glass of fresh squeezed OJ in the street is Q5. Transport
Chicken buses to Guate leave from behind the Girón every 15 minutes for Q30 (Q25 to Chimaltenango in ~1½ hours to change for Antigua, another Q7).
By far the most popular place in Guatemala both for chapin
and foreign tourists alike. It's a very beautiful, well restored city with Volcán de Agua's towering presence but too much of a pretentious yuppie indulgence for my liking with sushi, Thai food (Thai kickboxing school, too), ridiculously overpriced cafés, and the nicest McDonald's you ever saw where I was really craving an Egg McMuffin but not for $4. One full day there was plenty for me. Accommodation and food
The first place I checked out had
to be the cheapest digs in Antigua. I took a tiny, dingy single room with private hot water bathroom (central, gas heated hot water, not the electric shower head) at Posada Refugio for Q50. The bed was comfortable and the free WiFi intermittent. I could use the grimy kitchen to prepare my coffee but I wouldn't use it to prepare a proper meal even though most restaurants are pricey. There are a few inexpensive local places to eat. Café Zury (near the Guate bus stop) has Q25 almuerzos
, can get 2 slices for Q10 at El Macarone pizzeria, but the best place was El Merendero serving a Q17 almuerzo
. There was a taco joint near the plaza offering a Q20 combo including quesadilla
, French fries, salad, and a really good tamarind refresco
; they also serve massive burritos
. Panificadora Colombiana near the posada
has nice Q9 cinnamon rolls for breakfast which go well with Q5 fruit salad from the market. Transport
Chicken buses to Guate (Zona 3, I'm pretty sure) leave every 10-15 minutes from a dedicated stop a couple of blocks south of Pollo Campero near the market. Costs Q10 and takes about an hour.
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