Blogs from Chichicastenango, Western Highlands, Guatemala, Central America Caribbean

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We left Panajachel in some pretty overcast conditions. Higher and higher we went as we started to make our way to CHICHICASTENANGO (yeah that is a mouthful). The views, as we were driving, were still stupendous as the lake stretched out below us with volcanoes visible as far as the eye could see. What a natural spectacle. We started getting into the highlands where it was really, really rural. The drive was awesome as we saw small towns and people just going about their daily lives. A lot of people were carrying wood so the obvious assumption is that most people still rely on wood almost exclusively for heat and cooking (also fairly evident from all the smoke). We were pretty high up in altitude so in places there were views for miles and miles with ... read more
Guatemalan Highlands
Guatemalan Highlands
Guatemalan Highlands


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 ... read more
Church Steps
In Front of the Church
Lots of Flower Vendors


As we awaited our lunch, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the largest chicken I have ever laid my eyes upon as it was being wrestled out of a plastic bin bag by the owner of our chosen eatery. We were somewhere in the pulsing heart of the markets of Chichicastenango, renowned for being one of the best in all of Central America. Anyway, back to the chicken. Caroline and I were hungry and I wondered if this particular chicken would be the one that would end up on our plates. Alas, it lived to fight another day, with the lady who ruled over the cooking pots deciding it wasn’t worth spending her money on. It was plunged back into the bag, wings flapping and feet clawing and scratching in its vain search for some ... read more
Flower sellers on the steps of the church.
Typically colourful and happy locals.
It's not only for tourists at the Chichicastenango market.


The previous day we left Mexico and headed to Panajachel in Guatemala. It was a fairly long day as we travelled by bus. Our first full day in Panajachel and we headed over to the biggest Mayan market in Central America in a town called Chichicastenango. On the way to the market, the bus driver pulled over so that we could get some great shots of Lake Atitlan. Lake Atitlan is this massive lake which Panajachel is situated next to and we got some great photos of the lake as the bus driver stopped by when going up the mountains. When we got to the Mayan market it was extremely busy with Mayans and tourists. We first visited this little church which was like the second church in San Cristobal; Catholic but with a Mayan feel ... read more
Mayan lady selling clothes
Church at Chichicastenango
Crowded Market


This was the real Guatemala. There I was, barrelling up and down the switchback roads of the highlands, occasionally passing small villages. I was squished into a minivan with 23 other passengers, but it did not matter. This was the experience I was looking for. I was on my way to Nebaj, and the scenery was beautiful. Lush green hills and valleys all around, as far as the eye could see. Hours before I had still been in Lago de Atitlan. I was disappointed to leave, but knew I had to keep going. After taking a bus to Chichicastenago, where I had been to the market days before, I took a "chicken bus" to another town, Quiche. Chicken buses are the cheapest and most common mode of transportation in Guatemala. They are old yellow American school ... read more
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Last Sunday we drove two hours to Chichicastenango. The road to Chichi, while good, is through mountains and quite windy. Thursdays and Sundays Chichi comes alive with markets in the street. We drove almost right into the market, literally, and found a place to park. We walked down a steep hill that had several tents selling hardware, pots and pans, even soles of shoes. We weren’t sure if we were even going the right way to the church, when we were assaulted by the strong smell of incense. We turned the corner and followed the sounds to the church on the hill. On the steps of the church were several locals selling flowers and burning pine needles. There was also a stereo speaker playing religious music, quite loudly. We had read that going up the front ... read more
Chichicastenango Church
Chichicastenango Market
Market Day


Another early morning and we are on the road toward Antigua. George, Dana and I had breakfast at a wonderful little restaurant along the alley in San Pedro, Jim was not feeling well enough to move from the bed just yet and was gathering strength for the day. Today Dana and I ordered French Toast with fresh fruit, I have to say it was probably one of the best meals of French Toast I have ever eaten, there was no need for syrup as the toast was full of cinnamon and was light and tasty, with the fruit adding just the right amount of sweetness to the meal. Back at the hotel, Jim took a Cipro and was starting to pick up a bit, at least he felt well enough to travel. Again in the trucks ... read more
heading away from the lake
tha market at Chichi
chichi


Road blocks, Antigua, markets and more lakes in Guatemala.... read more
Election roadblock
Election roadblock
Antigua


Via Guatemala city I arrived in Chichicastenango on a Saturday morning, in time for the famous Sunday market. I had traveled together with the two Ozzie ´moles´ from El Péten region the day previous, and then taken a chicken bus (3 hrs) to the market town which lies at 2175 meters! The roads lead through mainly mountainous terrain, making the bus trip a rollercoaster ride of the type that might give you a whiplash. With sweaty palms we held on to the bars on top of the seats in front of us for deer life. Equally sweaty buttocks caused some serious sliding movements, which meant the poor soul at the window was being absolutely squashed. The term chicken bus refers to the fact that livestock used to be transported on these buses alongside people. I have ... read more
Cemetery in Chichicastenango
On the cathedral stairs...
Making tortillas


(Day 826 on the road) After a few weeks in Guatemala now I have to say that I am properly impressed. Of course by the beauty of the country, but even more so by the honesty of the people and the absence of hassle. It is by no means standard that in a poor country like Guatemala tourists are treated equal. Despite how much I love Asia for example, the omni-present foreigner pricing and rip-offsthere are one thing I can really do without, and which make travelling much more tiring and troublesome than it needs to be at times. In contrast, how refreshing it is to travel across Guatemala! Of course there were a few instances where people have taken advantage of us, but for the vast majority, we have been charged the normal price for ... read more
Old man carrying a heavy load of wood at El Palmar Viejo
Old women at the market in Chichicastenango
Time for the news in Chichicastenango




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