Family Moab

Family Moab
In Arches National Park

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Guest blog: Guatemala

Today I have a guest blogger - my son Daniel, who turned 18 on our adventure-filled trip to Guatemala. Daniel was born in Guatemala and came to our family in the US when he was 23 months old. Here are his thoughts on our recent trip, which was his first return to the country of his birth. Take it away, Daniel!

"When you think of Guatemala, you may think that it's a third-world (better phrased "developing") country that's filled with poverty. This is not the case. Guatemala is a beautiful land with vibrant people. Our tour guide, Tony, was a perfect example of this.  

I was blessed with a chance to visit my birth country of Guatemala this month. Guatemala is a country with a rich history, from Mayan traditions to being the five - times - running international champions of rum! Guatemala has it all and the trip was filled with adventures and knowledge.

We started by visiting the Pacaya Volcano, one of three active volcanoes in Guatemala. At the top we got souvenirs that included pieces of lava rock from the previous eruptions of the past decade. The next stop was the beautiful city of Antigua, which is one of four UNESCO world heritage sites in Guatemala (although Coca Cola was nearly responsible for getting Antigua removed from this list because they put their logo on sponsored improvements!) This city is filled with rich cultural history, especially during Holy Week (Semana Santa), where there are processions and colorful sawdust carpets lining the streets.

Soon after we headed to Lake Atitlan, which is hailed as one of the most beautiful lakes in Central America. This body of water is located within a volcanic crater created from an explosion nearly 84,000 years ago. It has a depth of 340 meters. We went across it by boat to visit San Juan la Laguna, and we stayed near Panajachel. Those are two of the 11 villages surrounding Atitlan. In San Juan la Laguna the streets were lined with vibrant colors and art, with music playing as you walked down certain streets.

Our next stop was the city of Chichicastenango, at 7,000 feet elevation, which is known for its famous markets (Thursdays and Sundays). On Palm Sunday the streets were filled with food, clothes and just about anything you could sell. Everywhere you looked you could see petite women in traditional Mayan clothing and men carrying huge loads of products.

Finally, our last stop was the Mayan Temple complex of Tikal, which contains ancient Mayan pyramids in a subtropical Guatemala jungle. The jungle was full of beautiful trees and wildlife, from howler monkeys to peanut-headed butterflies. Every temple was majestic and giant; they were built to show power and wealth. Tikal is also famous for being in 18 seconds of "Star Wars: A New Hope."  

Guatemala is a land that I'm lucky to call home. It's been through a lot but has a sense of hope and community as it continues to thrive and provide unforgettable memories, rich scenery and traditions.

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