One of the first places I often visit in a new city is the mercada central or central market. These are great places to buy fresh food and local delicacies at very reasonable prices. Guatemala City has a sizable central market near the National Palace and I visited there for lunch my first day in Guate.
However, down in one of the oldest and roughest parts of the city is La Terminal. La Terminal is a central market that takes up approximately six very large city blocks! The sheer size of this place is unreal and disorienting. It is easy to become lost here.
On a sunny mid-morning, my friend Manuel and I took a taxi there so that we could purchase fruit for his hostel Quetzelroo. Remarking on the progressively rougher neighborhoods we passed through Manuel assured me we would have no problems as La Terminal has a private security force. “Tens of thousands of dollars change hands here every day,” said Manuel. “This is where the restaurants and hotels come to purchase. Nobody is crazy enough to steal here. They would never be seen again!”
We spent the next two hours exploring and purchasing large quantities of fruit. Manuel knew exactly where he was going. He even hired a local man to carry our purchases as we continued to buy.
I have been in many central markets but I have never seen so much produce in one place either before or since my visit to La Terminal.
We arrived back at the car with enough sacks of produce to last the hostel several days. We drove several blocks before we were clear of the market. As we left the area we drove under a feux Eiffel Tower made out of rebar. Only in Latin America!