Guatemala in the Rear View Mirror

Rusty bus sits in a dirt field in Pachaj, Guatemala. School buses from the United States are often used for public transportation in Guatemala, known to locals as "chicken buses."

Over the last week, I have slept on airport floors, careened down perilous mountain highways, laid my hands on the stones of Mayan ruins and gotten lost in a bustling market in a country three thousand miles from home. I was disoriented, culture-shocked and a little queasy, but the experience of traveling to Guatemala was incredible.

For me, traveling outside of my comfort zone (literally) has always excited my imagination. How could a writer resist the exotic allure of such a mysterious place? In less than seven days, I wrote three short stories, took 11 pages of notes and snapped nearly 800 photographs. In the creativity department, I was on fire for the first time in months.

(Side note: One of my new friends also tried to get me to marry his daughter, but that’s a story for another blog.)

Advertisement for Gallo Beer on the side of a building in Xela, Guatemala.

Still, inspiration wasn’t the only thing I found there. I also found a place bursting with untold stories. I heard stories of a 36-year war, of people who disappeared without a trace, of the specter of colonialism, of racism toward the indigenous Maya, of crushing poverty, of corporate oppression, of community, of the fight for women’s rights, of risking everything for a better life, of horrific violence and of spectacular beauty. I heard enough stories to fill fifty novels — and I intend to write them.

The author stands in an archway in the ruins of a Spanish mission monastery in Antigua, Guatemala.

But memory is an imperfect thing and for the past two days, I’ve been busy trying to capture my thoughts and observations in words before these vivid, visceral feelings crumble like the cathedrals of Antigua or the pyramids of Iximche. I want to tell these stories; I have to tell these stories. I have to tell them because Guatemala desperately needs to be listened to and because the written word is such a powerful agent of change.

Guatemala’s struggles are the struggles of humanity and maybe the right words can wake a few people up to the continuing injustices there.

I want to amplify the voice of a nation that has been silenced for too long. And maybe I’m naive to think a few well-turned phrases can bring an end to five hundred years of human rights violations and domination by foreign powers, but when you’re faced with a place so breathtaking and a people so warm and gracious, you can’t help but want to join their fight.

I am not a powerful man. I can’t force multinational corporations to pay Guatemalans a fair wage for their work, nor can I bring about land reform or single handedly change a machismo culture that doesn’t value women. But I have a keyboard and a knack for wordsmithing and that has to count for something.

Guatemala changed me. Now, it’s time to return the favor.

P.S. – Some great resources to learn more about human rights issues in Guatemala:
Nuevos Horizontes
Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo (GAM)
CEDEPCA
EntreMundos
Voice of a Mountain
The Art of Political Murder by Francisco Goldman

A faith-perspective on my trip, complete with more photos than you can shake an tamalito at, and
My Flickr Photostream, with more Guatemala photos.

— 30 —

If you’re into the whole Twitter thing, you might consider following me at @jonnyeberle, where I am occasionally witty and always opinionated.

Published by Jonny Eberle

Writer, photographer, blogger and filmmaker in the City of Destiny. You can find my blog at www.jweberle.com.

203 thoughts on “Guatemala in the Rear View Mirror

    1. The pictures are beautiful, and so is the story. I plan on going to a missions trip in New Orleans, and I plan on documenting it as well through pictures and blogging!

  1. Wow, what a great post! I just returned from a week’s stay in Guatemala and am actively writing about it on my blog now too. I was fortunate enough to witness El Dia de la Mujer in Xela and it blew me away. I lived with a family for a week, studied Spanish and volunteered with kids, climbed a volcano, and did not get mugged like so many unfortunate tourists do. I loved Antigua and yes Guatemala is so amazing! Thanks for sharing and looking forward to any future posts!

    1. Thank you for stopping by! We probably passed each other on the street in Xela. That must have been great to spend an entire week with a family there, I was lucky enough to spend one night with a family in Pachaj, just 20 minutes outside of the city. I’m looking forward to reading your blog! Have a great day!

    2. You didn’t happen to do that trip with GVI did you? I did a similar volunteer trip – stayed with a host family for a week, had Spanish lessons, climbed an active volcano, built a stove for an indigenous family. It was an amazing and life changing experience.

      1. No, I actually did it through my son’s elementary school teacher who is married to a Guatemalan man and runs a school and service center in Xela. Your trip sounds really cool. Have you blogged about it? I’ll have to check it out!

      2. I have no blogged about my trip. My blog focuses on natural health, another one of my passions. I took my trip to Guatemala a few years ago, before I started my blog. Traveling is another passion of mine so I hope to incorporate that into my blog eventually. I have learned so much about life from all of my travels!

    1. Well, he was very sneaky about it. I was staying in his house for the night, in this little village called Pachaj, outside of Xela in the Western Highlands. We talked about his work and his family and he was very interested in knowing how old I was. He pointed out that I was only a couple of years older than his eldest daughter and I didn’t think much of it. The next morning, as I was preparing to leave, he asked me if I was coming back for his daughter. Needless to say, I was stunned for a moment. Luckily, I was able to remember the phrase, “No, gracias!”

      And yes, I did notice that I’ve been Freshly Pressed. I knew something was up when my phone started exploding…

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. That is so cool! I really love this post. This is how I felt after I went to Nepal a year and a half ago. I felt so inspired that it changed my life and prompted me to start truly giving back to the people in the places I visited. Over the last year, I’ve erased over $10,000 for building reading centers in rural Nepal, simply by doing easy things and fundraising creatively. So, you are not being too off in your hopes of changing the world. It can be done, and it takes more people like you and me who aspire to make a difference! It is possible to make a difference! So go for it and keep writing! 🙂

  3. You said, “I want to amplify the voice of a nation that has been silenced for too long.” This is powerful. This post, your words, and your presence has made me aware of a nation who needs support. Job well done!

    1. Thanks! They’re everywhere in Guatemala. Old school buses get bought at auction, towed down from the States, and re-purposed for mass transport. Then, I guess they eventually find their final resting places in rural fields.

  4. This is wonderful–thank you for reinvigorating my passion for Guatemala. I had the opportunity to travel the country, work in Lanquin as well as volunteer (on an ex-guerrilla communista finca) there for a few months. I definitely spent a few afternoons contemplating a move to Xela. The history there is amazing, so revealing, challenging. I felt that the experience was very important to my own self-growth, and have also been contemplating how I can give back to a country that gave me so much in a short period. Thanks to you, I have Orbitz up in the next tab of my browser.

    1. Fantastic! It really is a wonderful place. I was sad to come back, but it’s good to know there are people who want to volunteer there and walk with Guatemala. I know I’ll be back soon. Thanks for taking the time to comment and have a great trip.

  5. Wow Jonny you are all fired up. Discomfort is a wonderful challenge and I really like that you enjoy and embrace that. Your writing is full of it toooooooo……soooooo keep on going we are right behind you reading after you and sending you ‘great’ vibes where ever you gooooooooooo

    1. What can I say? I’m the type of person who gets emotionally invested in the people I meet. Thank you so much for reading and I appreciate the support. There’s still a long way to go.

  6. You are very lucky to have gotten the chance to visit such an inspiring country. Many of my close friends and co-workers are Guatemalan. They have taught me so much about life and they probably don’t even know it. I plan to visit Guatemala sometime in the near future. It’s definitely first on my list of travels.

    1. Such a wonderful place, such amazing people. Everybody seems to instinctively know how to make you feel at home. Everyone should experience that hospitality and strength at least once. Thanks for reading and happy travels!

  7. Sounds like a wonderful, life changing trip. Great photos, I hope they remind you fondly of your time there. Thanks for posting, I’ll never get there so it’s great to see.

  8. Hi J.W, I have recently met someone who hails from Guatemala so finding your post was timely if not serendipitous. I’ve never been and had little knowledge of it and was particularly interested to read about wars, women’s rights & the racism toward the indigenous people of this (what I have been told) beautiful country.
    I look forward to the rest of your stories about it & thank you.
    Michelle M.

    1. Serendipitous indeed (also, great word choice)! Guatemala really is a great place, but there’s a lot of work to do to recover from the war and to bring about social, racial, gender, political and economic equality. Thanks for commenting!

  9. You made me want to go there. I hope there is more to come about your trip to Guatemala, I’m always (or maybe only sometimes) interested in learning about new places and culture from people who have been there embracing it themselves. Let us know when you publish your fifty novels 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading! There are plenty more stories to tell, so there should be more blog posts to come. And when I get those novels written, edited and published, I won’t keep it a secret.

    1. I think it all comes down to practice. I take all of my photos, I invested in a good camera and a some photography classes. A few good photos are the result of taking hundreds of crappy ones and learning from my mistakes.

      Hang in there, if you post it, they will come. It just might take a little time to hit your stride. Take it easy!

  10. Thank you for sharing. It’s been almost two years since I spent just two weeks in Guatemala and it still haunts my dreams. It’s such beautiful land, and there is so much joy and love and pain the the Mayan people. I agree that all people, but especially Americans, need to learn more about the history of these long-suffering Central American nations.

    I’d also like to add to your great list of sources (I have also worked with GAM): http://www.voiceofamountain.com/ and Francisco Goldman’s excellent nonfiction book The Art of Political Murder.

    And I hope one day you can add your books to that too! Best of luck in that endeavor!

  11. Great photos!
    Guatemala definitely leaves an impression in people, don’t you think?
    I met some old-refugees from Guatemala in Chiapas, where they have lived since the war, and I have their history and their present still in my head. I can only imagine the lifes of the people who stayed behind.
    Hope you can reach people with your pictures and stories.

  12. Great post. It brought back memories of my first ever mission trip to ..you guessed it Guatemala. I drank guatemalan coffee this morning too, delivered to me just this past week from a missionary to Guatemala.

    You should write the stories, not because they will change the world, but because it is your moral duty to a place and a people you have loved to tell the true story and to make an effort to bring change regardless of your probability of success.

  13. I too just returned from Guatemala! Served over a thousand in a 15-hour time period distributing prescription medicines, giving eye care, dental care and more. It’s such a vibrant community of people. Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, too. Great pictures 🙂

  14. I love it! Someone else who travels not only to snap nice photos, but to really understand a country, the people, culture and history.
    Where do you publish your short stories?

    1. For me, that’s the only way to travel. I can’t really understand the cruise ship/guided tour crowd. That’s not for me. You really have to dig deep and get away from the tourist traps to understand a place. It’s much more rewarding that way, wouldn’t you agree?

      My short stories…well, that’s the thing: I haven’t officially published anything yet, besides right here on the blog. I have some submissions out and with luck I’ll get a little break soon.

      Thanks for reading!

  15. I’m so glad you visited the Motherland and it had such a great impact in your life. “Guatemala changed me…Now it’s time to return the favor.” Awesome quote. It does that to you. Every time I go, it changes my perspective on life and I learn a lot more about my people. Great to know it has that effect on others. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! And that Guatemala helped you do it!

    Rigoberta Menchu is also a great source 😉

    Look forward to hearing about your experience.

  16. Nice post Jonny! I was recently in Guatemala for 3 weeks and have similar thoughts to what you are saying. I’m trying to tell some of these stories as well, through the large body of work I captured while traveling this beautiful country. It certainly is an impressionable people in an often challenging environment. Voices such as these deserve to be heard. I look forward to future posts…

  17. Your photos are beautiful. I looked at “A faith perspective of my trip”. This was a mission trip of sorts? Going to your Flickr photo stream. The photo of the church is incredibly beautiful.

    1. Thank you so much. I’m glad you like them. I wouldn’t say it was a mission trip, as that implies there was a “mission” or a “goal.” But my friends and I do belong to a little church group and we wanted to go immerse ourselves in a new culture. Not to build anything or convert anyone, just to learn and to soak it all in.

      Have a great day!

  18. Glad to hear that you were changed by your time in Guatemala. My husband just returned, I was there a year ago. Beautiful country with an oppressed people whose story needs to be told.

  19. Ahhh thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I travelled through Guatemala back in 1993. I have very precious memories and photos that I’d long forgotton about! I spent time in Antigua like you learning Spanish and travelled in and around a fare bit. Just reading through your blog has since brought back a warm glow to my heart, felt compelled to drop you a line. So once again Thank-You! for standing tall!

    Be Well

  20. You could publish this in a writing magazine or something of that ilk, you know? Not only were the pictures fantastic; the writing spiced everything up in a way that I’ve seen bloggers rarely do.

    It’s a hell of a thing, exploring the world while exploring oneself. I think that when you’re a writer, even walking to your mailbox can be a journey of discovery. Thus, the possibilities to become inspired and motivated in a journey like yours are endless. It literally is too much for me believe.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

    1. I’ve found entire worlds in my mailbox.

      I don’t know if it’s quite ready for a magazine, but maybe with a little polishing it could be. Thank you for the kind words and for taking the time to share your thoughts. Take it easy!

    1. Thanks for reading, Jenny! It’s always great to connect to a fellow wanderer. I spent my time in the Western Highlands, Guatemala City, Xela and some surrounding areas (Pachaj and Cantel) and then a couple days in Antigua before heading back to the city to catch my flight home. I was lucky to have a chartered van, so I didn’t have to brave the buses. I don’t think I could do it, I get claustrophobic and motion sick pretty easily…

  21. I loved your post! I’ve been in Guatemala twice and it is indeed a beautiful, mysterious land with so much need. Two of my children were born there, and my heart continues to break over the condition of much of their homeland. I look forward to reading more of what you have to say and seeing more of these gorgeous photos.

    I don’t know if you are familiar with the PEG project that David Lamotte started in Guatemala, but it’s been a great thing. http://www.pegpartners.org/

    May God bless the people of Guatemala, and the people who love them!

  22. I love Guatemala, and this made my day to have a post concerning not just Guatemala’s beauty, but the problems that this country faces with it as well! I have visited once, plan on going again next winter, and eventually may end up living there! Thanks so much, and my blog downtownjbrown.wordpress.com has a bit about my trip if you are interested! Great post.

  23. How a mighty civilization has crumbled to this extent? We feel so connected , though we are on the exactly opposite side of the world. The questions that we keep asking, is asked by Guatemala.

    A beautiful write up. Thanks for sharing. Hope you will share more.

  24. Great thoughts accompanying the photos, and the links are great too. I love seeing any country through a different lens. I especially love the “return the favor” bit. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Hi Jonny. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. I’m glad that your experience in Guatemala was so enlightening! We’ve done work in Latin America since 1996 and Guatemala is a country that has always called to us, although we haven’t been back in some time. Our site is made up of a collective of students and professionals writing about the collaboration among those who participate in and communicate about entrepreneurial conservation projects around the world. Come visit us- I think you’ll like it!

  26. Hi there!
    I am glad you went to Guate, and you wish to amplify the human rights issues in Guatemala. As someone who lives in El Salvador I just wanted to say : I am sure you know, that these issues are huge but Guatemala is also beautiful and vibrant and has so many things in common with first world countries , and many of those issues are happening even in the United States. I wish that people saw that Central America is rich with possiblities and adventures. Somehow the media distorts this, as I wrote in my blog/. I hope others can travel , and discover like you do. http://wingeyes.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/distorted-perception-of-the-other/

    1. Absolutely. It’s certainly a place that lives with a dichotomy, like all places. Even though there are problems, Guatemala is far from backward. People listen to the same music, use Facebook, all of that. We’re really not that different at all, and as you rightly point out, the U.S. still has a long way to go to correct our own human and civil rights violations.

      Thank you for commenting!

  27. This was a great post. Your writing is incredible, as is the story. I’m majoring in anthropology and have yet to go anywhere exciting, but when I graduate in June, I hope to change that, and eventually get a chance to tell the stories of people that need to be told, which it sounds like you’re doing! I truly think that writing can speak volumes, bring attention, and make a difference.Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. As an anthropology major, you have a great opportunity (and excuse) to travel to these wonderful places and bring pieces of them home to share. Good luck sharing the stories you uncover!

  28. I was randomly looking for interesting blogs and it suddenly came to my attention the title of your latest post. Since I am living in Guatemala at the moment and havent seen as many places as you did… I am from Honduras a sister country from Guatemala and came here to get a masters… Its amazing how the world´s perspective of our worlds is so different. I know Guatemala is a country that suffers from war ashes but the ones that live here do not live that, the way you did. Obviously its because this is our context even if its not my country. By the way Honduras as a country is way behind in progress and development than Guatemala. Imagine me a 25 year old woman coming to Guatemala to get my masters in corporates communication… and looking up to the great city, great culture and people as you mention but dont see things the same way as foreings… funny that our realities are so different and yet we all suffer from something diferent in our own countries. Guatemala has left me a great sweetness in my heart because of the people, the culture, the colors, the cities and dangers of violence are also adventures hahaha. But thanks for giving me a reality check of new perspectives on life. By he way: If you had been in Honduras you would have never rejected marriage w/ a honduran girl cause they say nothing compares to honduran women. hahah. Just kidding take care I will follow your post.

    1. I don’t think we can help seeing the world through the lens of our own culture. To be sure, Guatemala has made some incredible strides in the last 16 years. Today, you see women asserting their rights, getting master’s degrees like you or holding public office. But at the same time, hundreds of women are still murdered by their husbands every year. It’s a wonderful place with a long way to go, like all nations.

      I’ve never been to Honduras, but I would love to go someday to hear the stories it has to tell. Thanks for leaving your comment!

  29. This is how I felt when I went to Nicaragua years ago with Witness for Peace . . . only you say it far more eloquently than I ever could. I look forward to reading more about Guatemala. Gracias.

  30. Reblogged this on El ideario de un escribiente and commented:
    Y cualquiera diría que nosotros, los guatemaltecos, nos hemos acostumbrado a todo esto. No, uno no se acostumbra al sufrimiento. Thanks a lot for coming to this beautiful and small piece of land in Central America.

      1. We’ll be waiting for you. Have a nice day. Thanks again for visiting and loving our country.

  31. Incredible pictures. I wonder how many novel ideas you came across from such an amazing journey.
    I noticed you didnt add anything about the nightlife there.

    Do they have bars there, or is it too dangerous to venture out at night?

    Thanks
    -Ron

    1. More ideas and images than I could possible capture, so I may have to settle for just a handful. I didn’t get a chance to experience the nightlife. It’s true that it can be a little dangerous for foreigners, but that can be said of any city. Mostly, I was simply too tired to do anything at night but sleep. I wouldn’t mind going salsa dancing next time. Thanks for stopping by!

    2. When I was in Antigua, we were told as long as we were in a larger group at night it was okay to venture out. We were also informed to walk and not take the rickshaw (that’s what they are called in India anyway, forgot what they called them in Guatemala) since the drivers can sometimes be corrupt. Antigua is a diverse city with many international tourists and the nightlife was fun. They had dancing and played the same music you would hear in the states and also had salsa dancing venues which I greatly enjoyed!

  32. Your words help illuminate this problem. As an expat who lives in a “third world” country, I understand the frustration when seeing human rights ignored, although the problem is much improved where I currently live in Mexico. Still, I see the tin roofed shacks with the hungry children playing in the mud right across the street from multimillion dollar mansions built by foreigners, political persons, or drug lords. Thanks for the words………..and would love to read that blog about marrying his daughter, smile.

    1. There is definitely being progress made, like you said. Latin America has been forgotten for too long and its time to recognize the struggles of our neighbors. As for that particular awkward moment, I fear the reality may not live up to the hype. Maybe I’ll turn it into a short story.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to share your thoughts!

  33. My brother and his family lived in Guatemala for six years a Bible translator for Wycliffe. I am going to send him the link to your article since he will be very interested in knowing about your time in the country.

      1. My family and I lived first in Tacaná near the border with Mexico while I gathered material for my dissertation. At the time, back in 1979, none of the streets there had an official name, most had cobblestones if they were paved at all, and the town had no bank or even a gas station. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. Of all the places I have ever lived, that was the hardest to leave. In 2006 I returned for a visit and even found a few people who could still speak the Mayan language I had gone there to study almost 27 years earlier. In that time, banks and gas stations had appeared. The town had zones and street names. There was even cell phone tower there, and people had a use for it. Whatever else you may have to say about the nation and the political climate there, you ought to take this amazing transformation into account. I could go on and on, but I need to go. Life goes on here in Virginia.

  34. I’ve only had the honor to have traveled Mexico and Vietnam. I definitely want to check out other Latin American countries. Each city has taught me an experience and seeing hardships first has can be very difficult. I’ve visited children with holes in their shoes wearing faded, dirty, old black pants. I have definitely learned to appreciate everything more than ever before. Most importantly, it has opened up my heart and I love giving back to those children and those who need it most.
    Traveling is the best thing anyone can do! And no, I don’t mean staying in the Four Seasons.

  35. I am a student from Canada and visited Guatemala (San Lucas, Guatemala City, and Rabinal) last year. Your post took me right back there! Thank you! I look forward to reading more of your work and blog entries about the country..

  36. Wow! Man, you deserve to be on Freshly Pressed! Congrats, I loved your post. I truly did, I’m from Guatemala and I appreciate your words about my Guate! The inspiration it gave you, no surprise. But it’s great that it had such an effect on you, to make you want to change things. It’s so ironic how someone, an outsider, wants to help Guatemala more desperately than some of us do. But then again, hope is hard to keep when there have been so many disappointments for my people. And even if it’s hard to generate change, the right words and tone can actually do it, bit by bit. And I believe you might be one of those people who know how to arrange both elements to inspire other people to generate change, as well, in their own way.

    Thanks for your post! And I also love the pictures. The one with the Gallo logo is kind of funny, it represents the drinking culture we have here lol, what can I say, we like to have fun! Cheers from Guate 😉

    Congrats! and keep sharing!!

  37. You’re a chapino now!! 😀 so from a chapina to another I say: it’s definitely hard, breathtaking, overwhelming to hear our history as a nation, yet we struggle everyday to be better to one another, and make this a better place to live. I cannot express right now how your words made me feel. I’m also very thankful for sharing this with many, MANY people and for them to be able to see how stunning our country really is (and I wish our people would noticed that also, SAD but true). I’m also very pleased and happy you had a great time here, you’re always welcome to come 🙂
    I swear I could write you an entire post about this one, but I would always be left just with a big fat -thank you- for coming and appreciating the beautiful Guatemala!!
    ps. if you were a girl you would have been -bought-… He would’ve offered horses, cows, pigs and chickens in exchange for you marrying their son and taking you away with them… yeah, it’s weird.

  38. Fantastic post. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, you’ve already written a couple of chapters simply by sharing these wonderful images and expressing your devotion to Guatemala.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed as well, and I look forward to reading those novels you mentioned. So it is written, so shall it be done. 😛

    Thanks for sharing.

  39. Thank you for posting these wonderful thoughts, pictures and links. And as far as words changing the world, it wouldn’t be the first time. You never do know. 🙂

    Also, major congrats on hitting a productive stride in your writing. I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, but as a fledgling writer myself, you have my complete sympathy. The Muse makes her own hours, and when she pops up, we’ve got to be ready to be inspired. Run with it, man!

  40. Right now, I think the most pressing issue in Guatemala is the war on drugs. It’s what’s been destroying all the progress it made in the past 20 years. I live in El Salvador, but spent half my childhood in Honduras. Usually what happens in any part of Central America, almost always echoes in the other countries (except Costa Rica, which pretty much walks to the beat of its own drum). Although land reforms do more harm than good in these countries, as much of the confiscated/redistributed lands stop producing once the reform is made.

    Congratulations on the beautiful photos!

  41. Hi, Johnny. Congrats for your post.
    Guatemala has manage to maintain its genuine culture, inspite the apeal of consumerism. People are friendly but life isn´t easy on most of them. From the chaothic rumble of “Guate” to the mountain vlillages and Mayan ruins, it´s a truly intense and fascinating country.
    I took some photos there. Maybe you will pleased to revive those places…
    http://amarques1966.wordpress.com/category/yucatan/guatemala/

    António Marques

  42. In reading your blog on Guatemala I had no idea of their struggles and I thank you for writing on this topic as it provided me with knowledge I did not have before… Great article and your photos are awesome.

  43. Great writing! Our world is full of places/countries like Guatemala… Thanks for choosing to write about their issues. I think it takes courage to do that and it is a real eye oppener for readers! Most people close their eyes to opression, sadly…
    God bless you!

  44. I love your writing style. I think you and I have similar qualities in that regard. I could feel the feeling of sleeping on the airport floor and the anguish of laying your eyes on the offenses to human rights. Seeing human rights violations first hand are hard to put into words for people to feel what you see, but I think you managed to convey that picture.

    Take care.

  45. Wow , you have a way with words ! A true craftsmith !! Inspired me enough to add Guatemala to be ‘to see before I die’ list 🙂 will be looking forward to more posts from you ! Keep writing !

  46. Great post. The title “Guatemala in Rear View Mirror”, immediately got my attention. We recently traveled to Belize and were offered a one day trip into Guatemala. Our Belizian guide of Mayan descent would only take us to the boarder, where we were walked through customs and handed off to a Guatemalan guide. Seems that when Belizians guides were used they were getting robbed.

    The contrast between the two countries has left a lasting impression. We left the laid back, smiling faces of a tropical vacation to enter a tense, region in crisis. We drove to Tikal National Park to see the Mayan ruins, which are impressive. But along the way we saw signs warning against human trafficking and men with weapons at almost every intersection.

    Hope we can find ways to stop the violence.

  47. I spent 6 years living in the capital city and traveling the interior almost non stop. Witnessed the atrocities of the Guatemalan army, but as well the subversive groups grabbing young “soldiers” from their families by the force and the political unrest of the region..Also, I experienced the every 40/50 years major earthquake that shook most of the land for one entire minute with a 7.5 magnitude and killed almost 30k people. Those memories will never fade for me. Neither the magical experiences I had with the Guatemalan people in the capital city and the province.and their places! Gosh! A journey through time!
    I would recommend any seasoned traveler to visit beautiful Guatemala, but only the strong of heart and lucky ones can endure that. Clearly, you got yourself all together and managed those experiences you share here. I just wish one day you share your writings because I am sure they will be as magical and enlightening as your experience.
    Great blog and photos! Thanks!

  48. The culture literally oozes from the streets.

    The difference between seeing photos of a place when researching it online and reading a blog with personal photos is that…, you feel the place through the experience of a real individual. Somehow, if only for a moment, their photos and stories transport you there and you even think to yourself “i can’t wait to go back”. Because momentarily, you were there.

    Thanks for the trip!

  49. I have never made it to Central or South America, but I would dearly love to. It is one of my life’s ambitions to be able to put my hands on the stone walls of Machu Picchu. There are so many disparate cultures and such a vibrant and colorful history in that part of the world that to me it is no wonder that all of the most brilliant writers of magic realism come from there, and in my wildest dreams, I travel down there to find that such talent is infectious. I have lately been toying with the idea of signing up with the peace corps once I (finally) finish my education, and your post reminded me of how much I could get in return if I did.

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