Thursday, January 22, 2015


Modern Maya World

Executive summary by darmansjah

Every year countless travelers visit the ruins of once great Maya cities: Chichén Itzá (Mexico), Tikal (Guatemala), Caracol (Belize), and Copán (Honduras). The pyramids and stelae are well worth seeing, especially at jungle-shrouded Tikal (above), but here’s the thing: Maya civilization isn’t long gone. Its apogee may have passed, but millions of Maya people and their culture remain alive and well, most vibrantly in Guatemala’s Western Highlands.

The most alluring place in Maya Guatemala is Chichicastenango, a walkable town about three hours by road from Guatemala City where more than 95 percent of the people are indigenous. Each Thursday and Sunday, Maya vendors carry their goods on their backs at dawn to Chichi’s market, selling brilliantly hued textiles, fearsome wooden masks, golden and purple maize, necklaces, and produce arranged in Escher-like patterns. Smoke from grills perfumes the narrow aisles, and so many women briskly pat stone-ground tortillas into shape that it sounds like a standing ovation.

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