Chichicastengo's colorful cemetery is well worth a visit if you're in town for the famous market day.
If you’re headed into the Guatemalan highlands town of Chichicastenango, chances are you’re going for the famous market day. While you’re there, it’s worth dropping by the town’s cemetery just down the hill a little.
The town is not very big, so the cemetery isn’t either, but it sure is colorful. Its brightly painted tombs and crosses stand out vividly on the hillside. The effect is quite different from something like stark white of the cemetery in Granada, Nicaragua.
Like local churches such as Iglesia de Santo Tomas, next to the market, the cemetery is mixed-use, serving both Catholic and indigenous K’iche’ Maya religious communities.
If you come across smoke wafting through the cemetery, that’s likely local shaman performing traditional K’iche’ Maya ceremonies using bonfires and censers with smoldering incense and copal resin.
It’s just down the hill from the market area. As a commonsense personal safety precaution, it’s worth going with a local or guide, especially if you’re traveling solo.
You can find the latest U.S. Department of State travel advisories and information for Guatemala (such as entry visa requirements and vaccination requirements) here.
The CDC makes country-specific recommendations for vaccinations and health for travelers. You can find their latest information for Guatemala here.