A Delicious Adventure with Chichi

20 06 2011

8:00 am came to early.  The four of us clamered into another van-bus and we were off from Panajachel to Chichicastenango.  The town of Chichicastenango has little to offer other than it boasts having the biggest market in Central America, and in a last minute decision, we decided it was worth a day trip.  The hour or so drive was made painful by an mindnumbingly annoying womn who looked uncanningly like Voldemort from Harry Potter.  But we made it in good time.  We had just about 5 hours to exlpore the market, and meet back up with the bus driver.

The first thing on all of our minds was eating some breakfast.  So, we just barely waded our way down the first steet of the market and found a small resturant.  We had just sat down when fireworks, known as bombettas started going off just out side.  Soon, a huge procession complete with men in full regelia carrying religious statues came into view.  The bombettas grew louder and the streets filled with smoke as the procession slowly moved past.  It’s difficult to find the right words to describe the reverence of this procession; it simply marked the start of market day, yet it was so intricate and amazing.

Market parade

After breakfast we jumped into exploring the market with both feet.  Vanessa was the only one that really wanted to buy something specific- a handsewn blanket. However, we quickly realized that there was a pretty good chance that we were going to get lost.  Brian noted that we started by a big yellow building, which was to be our landmark to relocate the minibus.

We started down what seemed like the main street that had side streets branching off…what we soon came to realize is all those side streets also had streets extending from them…all of them lined with stalls, or blankets covered in goods.  There was everything from traditional mayan clothing and blankets to freshly cut chiken heads, or even live baby chickens!

The central church

We wandered for hours and it seemed that we rarely crossed the same place twice.  As we became more daring we worked our way in to the the depths of the market where the aroma of food stalls called.  We meandered through the tight catacombs to reach what felt like the heart of the market.  We stopped walking and all looked at eachother in anticipation.  Pam was the first to say what we were all thinking…we were going to eat right there, where crates of live chickens were becoming fried chiken in a matter of minutes and the ash from the freshly stoked fires landed on our plates.

We trepidly chose a food stall that had meat sizzling over an open fire.  Vanessa, who has been the designated speaker for the entire trip, ordered 3 plates complete with meat, rice, tortillas and some sort of squash salad.  The meat was succulent, the rice delicious and the tortillas perfectly round (which we learned was near impossible to do at our cooking class in Antigua), it was a once in a life time meal!  I enjoyed looking around at each of our group and had to keep reminding myself where we actually were.

After lunch, V finally found the blanket she wanted and did her best job of bartering and we worked our way back to the shuttle.  All of us were tired and thankfully slept most of the way back so we didn’t have to hear the Skeletor-looking lady ramble on about whatever thought just came into her head.

It’s strange to think that we were so close to not visiting Chichi.  We casually added it to our itinerary at the last minute.  We are so lucky we did, because if it were not for this visit, we wouldn’t have seen one of the most interesting and intricate faces of Guatemala.

-M

Check out Pam and Brian’s blog for more pictures and insights about our trip. http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/elcapitan/3/1307967920/tpod.html

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One response

24 06 2011
KATIE!!!

I will take 1 live baby chicken for a souvenir. Thank you. I’m looking forward to caring for it. Talia + baby chick = BFF.

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