If you would like to take some souvenirs home, you don't have to look around too hard. In every villages of Lake Atitlán you will be approached by young Mayan kids (usually girls) selling traditional textiles, handicrafts and trinkets. You can bargain as hard as you like. Be considerate.
The shopping here is the best we found in Guatemala. There are so many wonderful woven fabrics ...we came home with much more than planned .
What to buy: I bought brightly made slippers for everyone in our family . they are so different and very comfortable. And the tableclothes !!! It was so hard to choose! Oh and wonderful purses made of multi coloured and types of fabrics. These purses were about $10.00 and would sell for at least $50.00 in the USA.
We stumbled upon a fairly large outdoor market in San Pedro. They had a bit of everything there...produce , general supplies and cheap trinkets . It was a weekend when we were there so we're not sure if it is going on weekdays , we thought not. There was one area devoted to food . It looked delicious and was so cheap .
We first saw these amazing intricate embroidered wall hangings in Panajachel but we decided to wait until we got to Santiago where they are made to make our purchase.
We weren't disappointed as there were lots to choose from . We bought three. They are embroidered using silk threads and the works have many different scenes from deities to the mayan calendar and everything in between.
If they had taken visa I would have bought more for gifts. They are so unique. The large one I have is about 4 feet long and took 4 months to make . I paid $80.00 for it.
WE were excited to find that San Antonio Palopo is where the beautiful ceramic mugs that we saw in shops all over Panajachel , are made . Of course they make other beautiful pieces as well but with our backpacks ...a mug each is all we could manage. They are painted with bright blues , greens and browns and have rustic shapes . I just love them.
What to pay: They are cheaper here too at about $5.00 each.
Not far from the huge white church on the top of the hill you can visit the ladies textile coop. Their work is of the finest and its interesting to watch as they weave the wonderful fabrics. There were women and children hard at work.
What to buy: The traditional colour of the locals dress here is a blue mix...quite lovely . This is what we saw them making at the coop , the prices arelow by our standards...but remember no credit cards here.
What to pay: The lady in the second picture was excited when she heard we were from canada. She had a quarter she wanted exchanged for local currency.
Santiago offers much the same sorts of crafts as Panajachel at similar prices, but the sales atmosphere is more relaxed. We found a nice family owned shop with a number of silly girls with whom I played while Belinda decided which embroidered poncho to buy. The embroidery is very detailed and probably takes months of individual work, so we expected to part with a sizeable sum. We snapped pictures and swapped addresses. I sent a photo by mail, but I've lost contact with the vendor since then.
What to buy: Embroidery, men's and women's knit shirts, bedspreads, and other Guatemalan handicrafts.
What to pay: Bargain, Bargain, Bargain, but please pay in the end what the item is worth. The best embroidered work takes months or even years to complete, so expect to pay a reasonable sum. These items are NOT available in the USA though, so go ahead and spoil yourself.
The main street leading down to the waterfront of Panajachel has dozens of vendors that set up everyday. The vendors are willing to bargain a bit, but they do stop at a certain level. Individual children and adults also walk the area with loads of goods for sale.
What to buy: We found very nice 100% cotton woven shirts selling for around $10- each. These do shrink a bit, so buy oversized, and the colors will fade slightly, not a lot but slightly during the first wash. But, the texture of the weaves are very nice, and colors gorgeous. In fact, one of the challenges I found was finding shirts that I could wear to work in the more conservative American work world. I found the reduced price brand named men's shirts too thin in terms of thread count and frequently not quite fitting enough even for the supposedly low prices. So, I'd stick with the authentic Guatemalan fabrics. In addition to men's shirts, and women's clothes of all sorts, we particularly liked the woven bedspreads and pillow cases. Belinda took an extra set of bedspreads to sew into curtains, so that the bedspread and curtains match and make a very nice Guatemalan guest bedroom. The embroidered fabrics are virtual collectibles, but aim for traditional motifs. We would occasionally buy small items from the children street vendors, but the better and unique items invariably will tucked back into the established shops.
What to pay: Prices range depending upon the item, but only the best embroidered fabrics will be higher than $100-. The bedspreads were in the $40 to $60 range for a set, as I recall, which is an excellent deal considering what the cost of a plain set of sheets will cost in the USA.
Calle Santander in Panajachel is lined with locals selling their handicrafts. You'll find hand-woven rugs, clothing and scarves among many other things. Various Mayan groups come to Pana to sell to tourists, but you can also go to some of the other villages and find the same things.
This picture was taken along the main street in Santiago Atitlán, where I found most of the same items from wood carved flutes to jade to colorful paintings featuring Guatemalan symbols such as the Quetzal (it's a bird).
Choose from the beautiful textile accessories woven by the women of Cojolya Association of Women Weavers.
Accessories, bags, scarves, fabric for interior design all combine moderen design and luxury fibres with traditional weaving techniques.
All are woven on the backstrap loom in the village by women from the association using traditional techniques.
What to buy: Accessories, hats, bags, scarves, wraps, throws, fabric for interior design.
What to pay: These pieces care more expenisve than Guatemalan Typica, but once you see them you will see why, excellent workmanship, unique design and fair wages for the women in the co-op.
As this there were many in Santiago Atitlan. Main reason of course is that Santiago Atitlan is the touristiest place around the Atitlan Lake.
What to buy: In this shop they were selling al kind of wooden gifts. Like beautiful masks, flutes, and even a big giraffe. I haven't seen any giraffes during my trip through Guatemala.
And we (Tompt (tom and genie) and I) have a good reason not to buy any big wooden giraffes while traveling. Because it is almost certain that this giraffe never makes it to the end of the trip, so mostly it ends as fire wood for the Barbecue.
No need to search these young ladies, no problem, they will find you. And they have marvelous way of selling. And it is not just to make some money, these girls and their families really need this money to survive.
I have to admit, it is really hard not to buy something, maybe you are able to say no two times, but the third time they ask, your heart breaks, and you buy something. Most of the things they sell are small self made gifts, so for us Westerners it almost costs nothing, but for them it is good money.
What to buy: small local gifts, and beautiful scarfs
A textile shop along the road.
What to buy: For the ladies there were beautiful textiles to buy. most of these textiles were very colorful and decorated with local drawings.
along the streets
What to buy: if you are in the mood of buying some local vegetables, the local market is the place to be.