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Chichicastenango (commonly known as 'Chichi') is located in the central highlands of Guatemala, a few hours drive from Antigua and Guatemala City. Chichicastenango stands out as a colorful blend of past and present. Mayan heritage and culture is still very much alive and on display in the vibrant market on Thursdays and Sundays, where the streets fill up with multicolored stalls and teem with life.

The market is Chichi's main attraction and after a few minutes among the bustling, multicolored crowd you'll understand why. Thousands of vendors fill the streets and sidewalks, hawking their beautiful multicolored array of handicrafts from simple knick knacks to amazing works of art. Messy children and wandering women selling their beautiful wares from their backs complete the scene.

One can spend the better part of a day wandering around the market, and still not see the whole thing. Different goods tend to be concentrated in different areas, so exploring different parts can pay off. For the bargain seekers, the market presents a great chance to barter but the prices are generally extremely low to begin with for those accustomed to western prices. The goods themselves are a mix of quality, so buyer beware.

Chichicastenango has plenty to offer as a town, as well. A charming blend of old, older, and new, the town's colonial heritage and Mayan roots are still very much on display. The market itself is focused around the main square in the center of town. At one end of the square stands the church of Santo Tomas. an 18 step staircase. The colonial church was built atop an older Mayan holy site which today is an 18 step staircase. The number 18 comes from the ancient Mayan calendar, which had 18 months of 20 days each.

On Sundays the main church doors at the top of the stairs are open, and the market spills up the stairs themselves. If you can make it past the merchants, vendors, flower sellers, and incense burning on the steps, the staircase will give you a great view of the market itself. Inside the church, you can sit and take a moment of respite from the bustling crowd. The church is relatively simple, with old religious paintings adorning the walls and alter area, blackened by centuries of offerings of candles, incense that continue today.

Chichicastenango offers a great depiction of the blend of religious traditions of Catholicism and Mayan ritual. Outside the city, the ancient shrine of Pascual Abaj also attracts the faithful. The shrine lies outside the city on the top of a small hill. It isn't well marked, so wandering out on your own may well get you lost. The path up the hill will take you by two mask factories, where traditional festival mask are on display and available for purchase

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