What you think is your first glimpse of Quetzaltenango is not Quetzaltenango at all, but actually the Quiché market town of Salcajá. With the growth of the metropolitan area, you'll barely know where one ends and the other begins these days, but Salcajá warrants a brief stop on your way into or out of Quetzaltenango.

Salcajá puts a different spin on Guatemalan textiles with its famous jaspe weavings. These are similar to the Asian ikat technique, and although the process is historically associated with Asia, it is assumed to have developed independently in Mesoamerica—and often likened to old-fashioned tie-dyeing. The artisan first colors strands of warp, the lengthwise yarns attached to a foot-operated treadle loom, in a resist-dyeing process, usually with hot wax that prevents exposure of some of the materials to the dye. The elaborate designs require painstaking, labor-intensive precision. You'll see the results at Salcajá's Tuesday market.

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