While staying in Santa Catarina Palopò, I got the chance to enjoy the Lake Atitlàn and its communities. You can read all about this journey here. Thanks to this location, I also managed to visit amazing open-air craft markets placed closed to there, here is my top 3.
Also known as Santo Tomás Chichicastenango, this town is located in a mountainous region. This municipality hosts markets on Thursdays and Sundays where vendors sell handicrafts, food, flowers, pottery, wooden boxes, condiments, medicinal plants, candles, pom and copal (traditional incense), cal (lime stones for preparing tortillas), grindstones, pigs and chickens, machetes, and other tools.
Among the items sold are textiles, particularly women’s blouses. Masks used by dancers in traditional dances, such as the Dance of the Conquest, are also manufactured in Chichicastenango.
The markets are impressive, taking space all over town and regrouping thousands of people. Every street, every alley and every plaza is dedicated to the event and the number one word was: haggle. That day made me experience so much i almost got dizzy: Parrots saying “hola”, kittens for sale, kids playing flute for money, a evangelist and its choirs, huge radishes, thousands of different fabrics and as many people.
To escape this craziness and have a calm lunch break, my guide introduced me to Maria, a very welcoming woman in charge of making me taste the typical Guatemalan cooking. Small portions were brought to the table in an intimate decor for me to try different dishes based on corn, calabash and christophines. It was a delicious moment I wont forget.
Sololá’s market is one of the most vivid in the highlands and takes place every Tuesday and Friday. Communities from further regions hitchhike and walk in order to come to this market and sell their products. The sales will define the rest of the week for them and it’s therefore a very important reunion.
Displays of meat, dried fish, chilies, onions, beans, kindling wood fruit, housewares and clothing are neatly arranged in every available space! Everything was possible to be found. Hair dressers, shoes, candy, DVD players, phones… So many colors and movements it was gorgeous! My advice to you is to be careful when you wanna take a picture. Indeed, in the Guatemalan believes taking a photo will steal your soul forever. Accordingly I strongly recommend you to ask before snapping.
Panajachel Main Street
This town is the busiest and most built-up lakeside town located on the Northeast shore of Lake Atitlán, and which has become a center for the tourist trade of the area as it provides a base for visitors crossing the lake to visit other towns and villages.
I wouldn’t call it a “market” per say, but the main street abounds of craft shops and perpendicular alleys able to give you what you’re looking for if you haggle right.
I just found an article that you might find useful by Frommers giving you good tips about Panajachel shopping areas (check it out). This article also confirms the benefits of visiting Santa Catarina di Palop`, San Juan La Laguna and Santiago Atitlàn as mentioned in my previous article here.
I hope you founds this article useful and don’t hesitate to comment if you have other tips!