Chichicastenango Journals

Place of the Poison Trees

A June 2000 trip to Chichicastenango by LoCho

Mayan Girl Photo, Chichicastenango, Guatemala More Photos
Quote: Chichicastenango is famous for its outdoor market held twice a week.

Place of the Poison Trees

Overview

Quote:
Shop at the local outdoor market on Wednesdays and Sundays for some great souvenirs at a bargain. Explore the surrounding hillsides and enjoy the tranquility and lush greenness of the trees.

Quick Tips:

Bring lots of small bills, brush up on your Spanish, and bargain away!

Best Way To Get Around:

Walking around Chichicastenango will get you just about anywhere you want to go. The only vehicles I saw were delivery trucks and tourist busses heading to other locales.

The Mayan Inn

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Hotel

The Mayan Inn Photo, Chichicastenango, Guatemala
Quote:
The Mayan Inn is comfortable and quaint, and I find it quite beautiful. The rooms are spacious and are furnished with antique furniture. Most of the rooms have a window view of the surrounding mountains.

The attendants dress in traditional Mayan outfits and cater to your every whim. For example, at night you can ring a bell in your room and the attendant will come to build you a fire to keep your toes toasty.

Meals are served in a formal dining room, and you never leave hungry. The food is pretty good, but the atmosphere is great.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 23, 2001

The Mayan Inn
Chichicastenango
Chichicastenango , Guatemala

Chichicastenango Street Market

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Attraction | "Local Street Vendor Market"

Chichicastenango Street Market Photo, Chichicastenango, Guatemala
Quote:
This market held twice a week consists of several blocks worth of booths set up by the local Mayan natives. You can buy masks, clothing, purses, drums, etc. Guatemalans are said by many people to be the best weavers in the world, and now that I've seen the intricacies and variety of weavings on display in Chichicastenango, I agree.

When you shop at the outdoor market, you have to bargain until you can't bargain no more. If you start to walk away from a vendor, they will probably offer you an even better deal than you originally suggested. I suggest that you look through the entire market, find the items you really want and then focus on getting the best price. Good luck, and have fun!

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 23, 2001

Chichicastenango Street Market
Streets Of Chichi
Chichicastenango , Guatemala

Mayan Ceremonial Sites

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Attraction

Mayan Ceremonial Sites Photo, Chichicastenango, Guatemala
Quote:
Our tour guide offered to take us for a hike up to a Mayan Ceremonial Site atop a mountain. We did not witness an actual ceremony, but we saw the remnants of a recent ritual.

Antonio, our guide, filled us in on some traditions that are carried out during ceremonies to rid people of diseases and such. There are many old candles around the sites, and they are of all different colors because each color represents something different -- love, sickness, children, whatever.

Also, we were told that live chickens are still sacrificed -- the blood is spilled over the site, which may explain why there were also some stray dogs hanging around...

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 23, 2001

Mayan Ceremonial Sites
Chichicastenango
Chichicastenango , Guatemala

Poison Trees?

Story/Tip

Walking through Chichicastenango Photo, Chichicastenango, Guatemala
Quote:
Yes, Chichicastenango translated means "Place of the Poison Trees" and the trees do exist.

"Chichicaste" is the plant's name and "Tenango" indicates a place. Our guide told us that chichicaste trees are commonly planted around tobacco plantations to keep intruders out. The leaves are kind of fuzzy, and seem to invite you to touch them -- but I decided to just believe the story and not check it out firsthand. I hear that it is painful.

Photography etiquette

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Story/Tip

Produce Vendors Photo, Chichicastenango, Guatemala
Quote:
If you are a photographer, you'll find many intriguing subjects in Chichicastenango. If you want to take pictures of the locals, it is ok to do so from a distance that does not intrude upon their personal space.

If you find someone that you would like to take a close-up of, however, you need to tip them about 5 quetzales. The reason for this (supposedly) is that they feel you are stealing their animal spirit when you capture their image close up. 5 quetzales is less than $1 US, so its not a big deal -- I've gotten some great photographs this way.