The San Ignacio Farmers Market is where you want to be on a Saturday morning if you wish to witness the harmonious intermingling of Belize’s multiple cultures demonstrating why Belize is knows as a “melting pot of cultures”.
“The market is open every day but Saturday is when all the magic happens”
What you’ll see at the market
What’ you’ll see at the market depends on what day you visit. However, if you visit on a Saturday morning, you’ll witness a melodious cultural mix of Creole, Mestizos, Garifunas, Mayas, East Indians, Asians, Mennonites, & even American & Canadian expats. They all gather early at the crack of dawn in the magnificent plaza of the San Ignacio Farmers Market. Many of the locals gather here to sell their produce, others come to stack up on the fresh catch for the week. The ambiance is one of blissful, laid-back, socializing between locals who seem to all know one another as a consequence of the town’s smallness.
Things to try while you’re there:
Get your fresh Fruits and vegetables
The San Ignacio Farmers Market offers a variety of exotic fruits, spices, foods, and drinks you’ve probably never heard of or tasted before. Not a problem, feel free to ask the locals. They’ll be happy to tell you their names, how to eat them, whether they’re ripe or not, their health benefits, etc. Here you’ll find just about any and everything. You’ll want to bring a large hand bag or two. Get your fresh fruits & vegetables and get them early because they go as they come especially given their amazingly reasonable prices.
Grab a local breakfast
In San Ignacio you’ll find that a lot of people speak Spanish although the official language is English. This is due to a large variety of immigrants and the close proximity with the Guatemalan border. These immigrants come with their traditional foods and culture, way of dressing, and language in search of a better lifestyle. At the market you’ll find this evident. Don’t hesitate to try the local Pupusas! This is originally a Salvadoran dish which has been made very much a Belizean favorite. You might also want to try the tasty Salbutes, Empanadas, Tamales, Rice & Beans (The Belizean Staple), BBQ, or Tacos. They’re all finger-licking delicious!
Learn about Mayan herbal remedies & spices
At the market you’ll find a variety of traditional Mayan herbal remedies which the locals are all too familiar with. Perhaps you’ve fallen victim of that tasty street-side tacos’ food poisoning and aren’t too fond of taking drugs for it. By the way, I always advise travelers not to eat food from off the street sides if they have a sensitive stomach. Feel free to inquire at the market, you’ll be sure to get an elaborate explanation from an enthused local on the many herbal remedies for upset stomach and other illnesses. If you’re hoping to get your bubbling (creole for cooking) on and require spices, this is the perfect place.
Collect some souvenirs
A variety of locally hand crafted jewelry, and other souvenirs will catch your attention here. Feel free to negotiate with these artisans, they’ll be glad to reason it out with you. It really does put a lot of meaning into your travel experience and memories. If you’re a pepper sauce lover you’ll want to get the souvenir-size bottles of pepper sauce. Marie Sharp’s pepper sauces are a popular choice but there are several others like Hot Mama’s, Verena’s, among others.
Other things you’ll find here
Locally produced wines are a Belizean favorite. You’ll find that most of these wines are sweet wines made from a variety of locally grown fruits such as cashews, mangoes, and surreal among others. You can also find a few dry wines made from imported grapes by a select few local producers. They’re at the market every Saturday showcasing their products and happy to let you sample them as well. Don’t miss out on the free sip! You’ll notice that on Saturdays, the market temporarily transforms into a little flea market with a variety of miscellaneous stuff. They range from used close, shoes, appliances, tools, plastic tupperware, to furniture, fruit plants, flower plants, freshly cut meats, locally recorded musical albums, and even Ice Cream & sodas!
What currency should you use?
Feel free to use American Dollars here just as anywhere else In Belize. The exchange rate is fixed at BZ$2.00 to US$1.00, a very convenient conversion rate. If you notice our currency bears the image of Queen Elizabeth II. This is Because up until September 21st of 1981 we were a British Colony. And you were wondering why we’re the only country in Central America that speaks English?
Make room for this attraction on your itinerary!
The San Ignacio Farmers Market is conveniently located near the center of San Ignacio. At the center you can find several restaurants, bars, taxi drivers, and the bus terminal. It is situated just beside the Macal River, retaining its original location. This is where the town’s first settlers used to make landfall after a long week’s journey by boat up the river from Belize city. This was the early port into San Ignacio and has now developed into this wonderful & lively center of commerce to be enjoyed by both locals & visitors. You cannot leave this one out.
Are you a farmer yourself or simply have a passion for gardening and would love to know if a certain fruit is in season during the time of your visit to Belize? Feel free to contact us and we’ll keep you updated or send us an email with your inquiries, we’d be glad to help.