During my childhood, I lived for approximately one year in Costa Rica. We then drove up through Central America, North America and across Canada. By taking our time, the trip took the better part of a year and allowed us to visit many incredible places along the way.
All of this was, of course, when it was relatively safe, and there were no closed borders. The entire experience indeed formed who I am today as a person.
One of the places we visited that impressed me the most was a Mayan Market held in the city of Chichicastenango, Guatemala.
By the time we reached Guatemala, we felt as if we were natives ourselves and, therefore, immersed ourselves in the sights, smells and people of the city and Market.
The Market was a spectacle of sights, sounds and wonderful smells. Everywhere we looked, splashes of colour, and beautiful handmade articles beckoned us to come and explore.
The central church is the highlight of the Market and is truly a place of spectacle and activity. Gorgeous blooms of flowers cascade down the stairs of the church as if welcoming all of the shoppers and visitors. Inside the beautiful old church, a peaceful calm resonates while the faithful say special prayers for the sick and those that have passed on.
Everything is handmade from generations of artisans. The intricate work that goes into each piece of merchandise is both time-consuming and labour intensive. The older generations teach the younger people the crafts, which hopefully they will continue to make.
Entire families participate in Market day from the oldest to the youngest. Market day is a family and social event as well as a necessary financial one. Both selling and buying are done.
In the town surrounding the Market, native traditions abound. Even in the cemeteries, the local custom of using beautiful vibrant pastel paint colours is honoured. The houses are also decorated in similar colours. New hotels mix along with older native buildings offering a unique display of paradoxes.
Chichicastenango will forever live in my memories as one of the most spectacular places I have ever had the privilege to visit. I can only hope that time and technology won’t destroy its uniqueness and that many more people will be able to share its character.