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5 Things That Make Guatemala Special
Aug 27, 2013 by Sarah LorenzEvery adventure into a new culture opens the door to a different understanding, and diving into this world full of life can be enjoyably overwhelming; where you feel the magic of the places and see the smiles of the inhabitants. Guatemala is a country rich with culture and unique sites, with much to offer. From the charming colonial city of Antigua, to Lake Atitlán and its surrounding volcanoes, to the enveloping Mayan history, and the mouthwatering international recipes, there is a new experience around every corner. This is why I want to introduce to you five interesting things about Guatemala that I discovered on my trip there, and that really make the country so special. 1. Made in Guatemala Handmade souvenirs from Guatemala are some of the most colorful in the world. Their textiles include everything from scarves, tablecloths, and pillows that all come in different shapes, colors, and patterns. Along the shores of Lake Atitlán, in villages you arrive at by boat, you can find beautiful traditional clothing both in use and for sale. Each different village has colors and patterns that are unique to their traditions, so you're sure to find something that catches your eye. 2. Colorful Cemeteries Every 1st of November, Guatemalans celebrate “Dia de los Muertos," or the Day of the Dead. This celebration involves the unique Guatemalan traditions of constructing and flying large kites, making fiambre, and visiting the local cemetery. Families paint the gravestones of relatives with bright colors in commemoration of their lives, a beautiful custom, right? Check out this beautiful, foggy cemetery in Chichicastenango. 3. Mayan Rituals Guatemala's culture is rich with the influences of the spiritual Mayan civilization that ruled this region between the sixth and ninth century A.D., giving you a chance to participate in ancient rituals. For instance, you can take part in an agricultural blessing that involves specifically arranged flowers and burning candles believed to make a connection between humans and nature. Although it’s been 1,000 years since the Mayan civilization was at its peak, the spirit of their ancestors are still alive in the Guatemalans, and you can clearly feel a sort of solidarity with nature and the forces of the cosmos when being a part of it all. 4. Delightful Varieties of Corn Corn, squash, and tomatoes are some of the staple foods you find in traditional Guatemalan dishes. But corn isn’t just corn in the hands of these people. Their culinary versatility is apparent in the many dishes they are able to prepare using more than just the common yellow type. They also use white, red and even black varieties! Looks delicious, right? 5. Mayan Treasures Tikal National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important areas of preserved Mayan temples, is a well developed destination. It is easily accessible to tourists of all ages. The trails are well prepared and souvenirs are readily available. The site focuses on the large, well-known main Mayan temple, and there are a number of fascinating smaller temples that have been left overgrown by a jungle of lush vegetation. Tikal may not be as beautiful in this state, but it allows you to see how much the world has changed around it. You can only imagine how the site looked in ancient times, when the temples were covered in vibrant red colors. If you're impressed with Guatemala as a destination you can find amazing trips like this, through multifaceted landscapes full of history and roaming with different animals like the iconic quetzal bird, led by René, our Destination Expert in Guatemala. Are you one of those lucky people who has already traveled to Guatemala? We would love to hear about your experience there.