The Transformation of Chichicastenago, Guatemala

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Note: This post only has the first few paragraphs of the story as I am looking to get it published. If you want to keep reading, please leave a comment and I will email you the full story. Thanks for visiting my blog!

The descent into Chichicastenago from central Guatemala’s stretch of the Interamerican Highway is a nail-biter. Pimped-out former U.S. school buses take steep curves at high speeds in both lanes at once. Babies cry, music blasts and I grip the rusty handle on the seat in front of me. Pine trees fade into big leafy ones, and chocolate milk muddy water flows off the mountain as if racing this bouncy old school bus.

Exposed rock on the cliffs along the road is painted with symbols and slogans of one of Guatemala’s ten political parties. Elections are hotly debated in Guatemala, literally a matter of life and death for a country that recently survived a 36-year civil war.

In the guidebooks, Chichicastenango is famous for having what is either called ¨the biggest market in Central America¨ or ¨the most authentic market in Guatemala¨- neither of which is true. If you go for just a few hours on Sunday morning like most tourists, all the handicrafts and such that you are interested in can be bought elsewhere, like Panajachel, Flores or Antigua. If you want an authentic market, choose any town in the country on its market day. For a bigger one, visit Minerva in Quetzaltenango, for example.

I’m coming on Friday. The bus coasts and climbs, the weather clears, and the sun sets. I arrive in Chichi. I take the first cheap hotel I find and then go right to the center. The market is set up already; wooden structures take up the center square before the stout, white cathedral, but the stands are mostly empty. The few that are open sell necessities like fruit and candles.


From the left – cushin, sangustan (mangosteen), and rambutan

About Ted Campbell

U.S./Canadian writer, translator and professor in Mexico. Travel stories and practical tips on my blog No Hay Bronca: // Twitter: @NoHayBroncaBlog // Contact: nohaybroncablog (at)

Posted on July 14, 2011, in Guatemala, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

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