The mountainous village San Franisco El Alto is home to the biggest and most authentic market in the whole country. Here you will not find as much arts and crafts souvenirs as at the market in Antigua or Chichicastenango. Nevertheless, it is a unique experience, where you can immerse into the real Guatemalan life. It is a traditional, local market for fruits and vegetables, meat, groceries, animals, flowers, cloth and housewares. Market day is every Friday, but be early if you want to feel the real atmosphere of the bustling streets.
You will be impressed by the huge colour explosion of white and purple dahlias, bright red tomatoes, green, fresh herbs, multicoloured cloth, orange and pink sweaters and yellow chicks. Market vendors scream at every corner advertising their products and shoppers squeeze around the market stalls. Before even realising it, you will find yourself in the busy and bustling streets, bargaining with the market vendors. The streets are overloaded with every imaginable products from fresh fruit over plastic ware to meat.
Farmers sell living animals, like chicken and small pigs, butchers offer every imaginable part of dead animals like heads, legs or the normal filets. Vendors expose their huge rolls of fabric, where you can buy your yards of colorful, traditional Mayan cloth. The region is famous for its textile industry, so do not be surprised, that the markets and shops around are overfilled with clothes and fashion. Every meter is used to sell blue jeans, cotton cardigans in every colour, socks and jumpers as well as blankets. It is also the perfect day to try the different local sweets and the traditional dishes served at the food stalls. Do not forget to buy the hot and spicy dried chillies and to ask all the names of the exotic fruits.
The market will also stress your olfactory sense: freshly slaughtered meat, flowers, spices and herbs, animal excrement and fruits. Sometimes the bestial smelliness makes you feel like puking, other times you just want to stay a bit longer and inhale these sweet scents. Never forget to watch out for pickpockets and always have all your belongings safe at your side. Then, at the end of the day you will get home with fresh vegetables and meat to cook your dinner and unforgettable memories of a busy, loud, smelly and colourful Guatemalan market.
Public Buses leave frequently from Terminal Minerva in Quetzaltenango