"Indigenous Guatemala without the Tourists" Sololá by Hopkid

Sololá Travel Guide: 9 reviews and 32 photos

Solola, the capital of the Departmento de Solola, serves as the central meeting point on the trade route that links the tierra caliente, or the hot lands of the Pacific Slope, and the tierra fria, or the chilly highlands (reference: Lonely Planet). As a result the market days of Tuesday and Friday are huge affairs and is considered to be one of the most authentic in the Guatemalan Highlands. If you go you're likely to be one of only a handful of non-indigenous people walking the aisles of the market. Vendors are mainly selling things needed by the indigenous peoples such as meat, produce, shoes, clothes, prepared foods, tools, household goods, etc. You won't find any stalls with carved masks or other tourist trade crafts. However you will find authentic clothing (huipils, cortes, etc.) that are being offered for use by the local inhabitants.

Other than the market days, Sundays are another reason to visit as the local church dignataries, or cofradias, parade ceremoniously through the streets to the cathedral. We were lucky enough to drive through on the second Sunday in June while on our way from Pana to Chichicastenango when Solola was celebrating Corpus Christi. While mass was in progress, locals prepared tapetes, or ceremonial carpets, made from grasses, flowers, and other plant materials. We parked and walked through the streets watching the locals prepare the tapetes. Some were very simple, others more elaborate and beautiful. While not at the level of the incredible sawdust tapetes you see in Antigua during Semana Santa (Holy Week) around Easter, it was still a very interesting sight and we had a great time walking through the town following the tapete path. After mass, a procession was to walk over the tapetes as part of the Corpus Christi activities. While we didn't stay for the procession, we felt very fortunate to have been able to witness the making of the tapetes. The large white plaster cathedral is worth visiting for the colorful stained glass and the chance to see indigenous peoples near the altar praying. The women typically use colorful textiles as head coverings when they are inside the cathedral.

If you're staying in Pana it's only an 8km bus ride (2.50 quetzales, 20 minutes) to Solola and is definitely worth the effort on a market day or a Sunday morning. Be sure to get there before 10am (9am may be better) to see the procession of the cofradias.

16th century cathedral on the west side of the Parque Central. Interestingly the main entrance does not face the square but is on the north side of the building.

Chicken buses lined up along the south side of the Parque Central.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Bustling indigenous market, easy to get to from Pana
  • Cons:None
  • In a nutshell:A true feeling of Mayan life
  • Last visit to Sololá: Jun 2007
  • Intro Updated Jul 4, 2007
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Reviews (5)

Comments (3)

  • ellielou's Profile Photo
    Apr 5, 2008 at 6:27 AM

    hey, thinking that W Africa is OUT this year, but Guatemala is IN. GREAT page--the market is just my thing, & I'll be round to check out more & possibly bother you and Rita in person!

  • karenincalifornia's Profile Photo
    Aug 8, 2007 at 7:30 PM

    Being a farmer's market fanatic myself I really enjoyed your description of the markets. What an interesting experience you had with the Guatemalen culture. I like places where tourists are absent. What a fantastic trip!

  • Dabs's Profile Photo
    Aug 1, 2007 at 7:37 PM

    So did you meet any chickens on your bus? I even enjoy going to the non tourist markets!


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