Antigua, Guatemala Market
We returned from our second day at the orphanage around 4pm. We were dropped off at the chicken bus stop where we could see hundreds of people descending on Antigua’s outdoor market. There were hundreds of stalls some open, some with tin roofs. We decided that today would be a great day to check out the market and see what was being offered. We passed the bus parking lot with its bright red, blue, orange and yellow colored buses painted with all sorts of designs. The bus money collectors were standing in the doorway of the buses hollering out the destination they were headed to.
Men and children rushed around while ladies walked down the dirt parking lot with large bundles of goods balancing on their heads. These heavy bundles looked like oversized hats that were ready to break their necks.
The market was crowded with masses of people walking up and down the street. Small little pathways branched off perpendicular to the main street. These pathways branched out into a maze of narrow one person paths. It was hard to make sense of it all as the paths went on and on for what seemed like a square kilometer.
Vendors were selling dozens of different products. Some sold hats, shoes, cell phones and t-shirts while others were selling bananas, fruits, vegetables, sweaters, pants and even black market DVD’s of movies still in theaters (in Spanish of course).
Negotiating prices for goods is the name of the game here. If something is offered for $20 chances are that you can spend half of that amount. The sweaters my kids bought started out at $17 but ended up being sold for $12. A yoyo I bought started at $2.50 and I ended up buying it for 0.80. Wooden three dimensional puzzles started out at $17 and in the end I paid $6. After a while it is easy to get the hang of the haggling game that is commonplace in Guatemala. It is important to feel like you have paid a fair price yet that you have not been taken advantage of in the process.
After spending an hour in this maze I just had to get out of it all. While it was a fun experience, it definitely is not for the faint of heart or claustrophobic. Going to a Guatemalan market can feel a bit crowded and given the things I have heard from locals, its also important to hold on to your money belt or wallet very tightly.