Vagabonding Field Report: Largest Market in Central America – Chichicastenango, Guatemala

largest market central america chichicastenango

Cost/day: $40/day

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

Ancient Mayan religious rites being performed in a Catholic cathedral… a unique blend of religions that tells stories about a part of the world with a conflicting history. 

largest market central america

 Describe a typical day:

Awoke at Mayan Eco Homestead, loaded up our five children into our truck (our overlanding vehicle) and drove toward the town of Chichicastenango. Surprisingly, we were stopped at the state border (between Solola and Quiche) where they tried to confiscate our fruit… we convinced them to let us keep it so we could feed our kids. 😉

After escaping with just one child vomiting on the extremely windy roads, we finally arrived and parked. Began walking and gazing at the endless merchants selling textiles, stones, antiques, jewelry, coins, beads and so much more.



Explored one of the cathedrals, looked for a bathroom, bought some coconut water for just Q5 (US$0.63) and then got some ice cream. Oddly, my strawberry tasted like peanut butter.

After just a couple of hours, we drove back to The Homestead, to prepare for our upcoming trip to El Salvador. 

Describe an interesting conversation you had with a local:

My favorite part of this area was one of the cathedrals near the center of town. Men and women were burning incense and candles. As I solemnly entered the building and watched people praying near the front of the cathedral, and over candles burning in the aisles, a woman approached me. In a combination of English and Spanish she explained that the center aisles were dedicated to worshiping Mayan gods, while the Cathedral itself was dedicated to Christ and the Saints. The two religions were combined, especially at this time of year (Dia de los Muertos was approaching.)


What do you like about where you are? Dislike?

Absolutely loved the cathedral with the religious ceremonies, incense and flowers. The generations of families who make their living based on the daily activities of this market is fascinating to contemplate.


What I disliked is that, with a few exceptions, much of the merchandise available was something I could have bought in Panajachel on Lake Atitlan, or many other tourist destinations in Guatemala. I was expecting to see more produce and animals… more of a local market, instead of tourist centered.

Describe a challenge you faced:

When we got back to where we’d parked our truck (which was on the street in front of a parking lot — because we were too large to fit), they charged us Q25 for parking (US$3.12)… that’s almost three times the price of parking in Solola, where we’ve spent a lot of time.

What new lesson did you learn?

Just because you’re in Guatemala doesn’t mean you can expect the same prices everywhere you go… make it a habit to ask prices before making decisions. At least you’ll be prepared! 

Where next?

Next week is the Giant Kite Festival in Sumpango, Guatemala, a celebration for Dia de los Muertos. Can’t wait!

Read more about Living in Guatemala, or connect with me on Facebook.

Cover photo

Posted by | Comments (1)  | November 27, 2013
Category: Central America, Family Travel, Images from the road, Vagabonding Field Reports

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