Monday, September 12, 2011


First a bit of general information on GUATEMALA

 The National flag; Blue sides depicting the two coasts, one on the Pacific and one on the Caribbean.

In the center; Swords for honour; Laurel for triumph, glory and knowledge; the Quetzal symbolizes freedom; and the Parchment has the date of Independence of Central America, Sept. 15th, 1821.

Guatemala’s National Tree is the Ceiba Tree---In ancient times this sacred tree was seen as a link to heaven.

 The Quetzal not only the National Bird of Guatemala but also is the name of their currency. A “Q” (Quetzal) approximately exchanges at 7.75 Q to 1 US$.

This white orchid- Lycaste-skinneri varalba-(white nun orchid)  is the National flower. They are a very rare, endangered orchid found in the Verapaz district.

The population in Guatemala is approximately 16 million people---Forty percent are below the age of 15.  Forty-one percent are Maya who live in outlying villages primarily in the Highlands where customs and traditions are the strongest. There are approximately twenty separate Maya languages.  One bleak statistic I have read is the average lifespan of the Maya people is 49 years for men and 50 for women.

Peace accords were finally signed in 1996 after 30 years of civil war. There still is considerable unrest with the Maya people using blockades on the major thoroughfares trying to have their voices heard.

Unfortunately there are major problems in Guatemala which include poverty, illiteracy, lack of education, (education is free but books are not; the average student stays is school 4.1 years); and healthcare (Doctors are free but medications are not). In the banks in town I have noticed the local people giving a thumb print as their signature.
Guatemala has thirty six volcanoes; four active. The two visible from Guatemala City are Volcan de Pacaya and Volcan de Fuego. There are also two fault lines that run through the country.  The active volcanoes help release tectonic plate pressure therefore causing fewer earth quakes. .

In fact Antigua is nestled between three volcanoes….Volcan de Agua, Volcan Fuego, and Volcan Acatenango . Twenty eight miles from Guate City with a population of 46,000 people we spent a delightful three nights staying at La Casa de los Suenos an old colonial mansion set in the heart of Antigua. Our room had beautiful ornate furniture.

With a beautiful courtyard

We had access to the living room where we enjoyed Happy Hours with Pam and Bill (S/V Pamela Jean), our traveling companions.

Each city in Guaemala has a town square which are full of vendors. This one trying to sell Randy and Bill a flute for 120Q. (15$)

A beautiful young woman.

Arch of Santa Catalina (in background) and Volcan de Agua. This arch was built strictly to provide a hidden passageway for nuns to keep them from public view. The cobblestone streets slant to the center allowing rain run off to stay clear of the buildings.

Nim Pot artisan  shop…no haggling over prices here as everything very reasonable. We bought the 120Q flute here for 20Q (3$)

Mercado de Artesanas----Fun colourful market full of textiles, leather goods and jewellery.

We liked this young woman so much we bought a number of textile pieces from her

 Ladies selling fruit were constantly laughing.

And in every main square there is a fountain—Las Sirenas

We stopped for lunch at Café Sky where we had an excellent view of Volcan de Agua.

Outside recently restored La Merced.  This church was exquisite.

Many call it the wedding cake chruch.

The Catedral Ruins--originally built in 1669. This church survived the 1717 earthquake but was reduced to rubble 56 years later.

Only half of the original building stands today. We did Elizabeth Bell’s (local Historian) morning walking tour.

This is part of what was a 69 foot dome. Ms. Bell explained the plan for the Catedral Ruins is only to stabilize the columns.

One of the tour stops was at Jades, SA where Ms. Bell did a short talk on the history of jade in the area.

Our last tour stop was at Casa Santo Domingo which originally was an old Dominican Monastery. Now a hotel Casa Santo Domingo is filled with beautiful gardens and museums. We were free to walk through all the public spaces. 

Then of course it was time for lunch….which was delicious. Good thing we have been doing alot of walking. Beautiful orchids at entrance to the restaurant.

A short taxi ride took us up to Cerro de la Cruz..(Hill of the Cross)

where we had a spectacular view of Antigua and Volcan de Agua

After three fabulous days it's time to head to LAGO ATITLAN….

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love your comments and pictures... I hope Guatemala, Antigua Guatemala, Atitlan lake and any other place you visited left you all with a sweet smile...