Coming into Quetzaltenango from the Pan-American Highway, you’ll pass this somewhat ugly town which nonetheless has a few noteworthy features. Among them is Central America’s first Christian church, the Iglesia de San Jacinto, found two blocks west on 3a Calle from the main road (3a Avenida). It dates to 1524 and has a pretty facade with some interesting carvings. The interior boasts an ornate altar and some colonial-era paintings.
Salcajá’s other claim to fame is a pair of fermented beverages, including a uniquely fruity concoction made from pears, apples, peaches, and nances (white cherries), known as caldo de frutas. Its other adult beverage is rompopo, essentially a Mesoamerican eggnog made from egg whites, rum, sugar, crushed almonds, and assorted spices, including vanilla and cinnamon. It tastes much better than it looks. You can pick up small bottles of either of these drinks from local stores, including Rompopo Salcajá (4a Calle 2-02), a block east of the main road.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com