Los Mercardos

Whether we are passing though or staying for a week, it’s customary that we go to the markets (los mercardos) for all our shopping and economic lunches. Well, in fact, we live in Latin America, so the markets are our “shopping malls” and “grocery stores” -but better. The markets excites and offends all the senses. Complex and haphazard arrangements of clothing and comedors (small eateries), chickens alive or butchered, giant bouquets of flowers, and handicrafts- there is so much to see. Colorful textiles hang from overhead to the ground, folded. There is the buzzing of shoppers mixed with the chants of vendors “Que-zal por-dos-bol-sas” (one quezal dollar for two bags). And WOW! men and women carry huge bags of (well, anything) on their heads or on their backs, weighing maybe 30-50 kilograms!

Fortunately, we were in Chichi during the famous Sunday market day. The Sunday and Thursday Chichi markets draws vendors from all over Guatemala, representing many of Guatemala’s linguistic groups, largely K’iche Mayan- Mesoamericans. The Chichi market is perhaps the largest trading center of the Mayan since pre-Hispanic times.

On the steps of a very old church are dozens of flower vendors and a man burning incense and ringing a bell.

Colorful woven works are displayed. Intricate details of flowers, corn (maize), stories that tell the Guatemalan culture and traditions.

A Mayan blouse, or “huipil”. Textiles usually represent where the wearers are from, representing indigenous groups and villages.

Many times we’re dodging the peddlers, or explaining to them that we are not rich gringos- we travel by bicycle and can’t carry the extra weight. “Well, how about sending it to your mother?”

For lunch at the Chichi market, we squeeze in on the bench with locals, courteously wishing them to enjoy their meal- “Buen Provecho!”. Typical food orders are rice and chocolate hot drink, tostadas, tamales, and the plate of the day. There’s great economic food to eat while watch the bustling market life.

Flower Lady, San Cristobal, Guatemala.

Other markets we visited were in the towns of Tactic, San Cristobal, and La Tinta. In these towns, like La Tinta, it’s rare for tourist foreigners to visit. So as two cyclist, we drew a crowd of 50 men, women and children surrounding us, as we ate lunch and talked with a local municipal worker. It’s fun to be in the smaller town markets, because the people share so much interest- who are we? Where did we come from? “Wow – rode all the way from America!”  And we are not overwhelmed with hundreds of advertisers, like in the Chichi markets.

Just a snip of the viewers.. we had a 360 degree crowd, watching us throughout the whole lunch and conversation with this gentlemen. In La Tinta, Guatemala.

Market in Tactic

If you looking for…

Bike parts ..hey!

…New kicks…

…Hand-carved carnival mask…


…or colorful chickies – Guatemala markets probably has them.

Bueno, till next time…

Hasta luego, from tu amiga, Maria. (m.piem.org)


2 thoughts on “Los Mercardos

    • Hey! Yes, I think you will be good for driving through Mexico. Baja for sure.. but you will have to take the ferry. When are you going? Can we still meet up for surfing in Costa Rica???! Sorry it took me so long to reply. Hugs!

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