various: Shopping for handicrafts
The main street here is lined with shops selling all sorts of hand-crafted items – textiles galore, wood carvings, paintings, decorations, leather goods and more. The quality seemed to me to be on the whole pretty good, and the prices reasonable if you’re happy to haggle a little.
What to buy: I bought a woven glasses case on one of the stalls down near the dock for 20 Q and some pretty glass beaded Christmas decorations at 2 for 50 Q in the main street. We also bought a glass bead quetzal key-ring for just 5 Q from the woman in the photograph accompanying my Local Customs tip on costumes.
Tons of shopping!: Main street
When you get off the boat in Santiago Atitlan, just follow the main road to the center of town. It will take you up a long hill and is lined with locals selling all kinds of crafts. We were in a hurry, so we didn't spend much time trying to get a good deal, but I would imagine that there are plenty of bargains to be had. As a general rule, the more off the beaten path you get, the better the prices.
What to pay: You shouldn't have much trouble knocking 40-50% off the asking price.
Widow's Cooperative: A Good Cause
This shop contains crafts, artwork, and other handmade items by local widows to help supplement their incomes. It may not be the greatest collection of items but you're likely to see some things that you won't see anywhere else. And who knows, something may just catch your fancy and end up going home with you! Ask around for its location.
What to buy: Local crafts
What to pay: Varies
Various: More crafts!
Disappointed that the local market doesn't have any craft vendors? Well fear not as the main street that goes up from the ferry dock into the heart of the city is lined with shops that sell wooden masks, colorful textiles, and authentic huipils, the handwoven blouses that the local women wear. If you have time check out the stores and compare prices. If not be sure to bargain hard to get a good price.
What to buy: Clothes, masks, textiles, hammocks, etc.
What to pay: Varies
Local Market: Shop with the Locals
Market days are Fridays and Sundays. We were in Santiago on a Monday but there were still a group of vendor selling mostly food items along the east side of the Parque Central. You won't find craft stalls here as the main customers are the locals. You'll see women purchasing ingredients for that evening's meal and the banter that goes on during any social scene where folks are catching up on the news and gossip of the day. The market is much smaller than the one in Solola but is a nice mellower contrast. Still on view are the indigenous peoples (men and women) dressed in their very colorful traditional clothing. It's really a great scene to experience.
What to buy: Food items
What to pay: Varies but I'm sure it is inexpensive. Don't forget to bargain!