What is one of the biggest changes since 1969 in Antigua Guatemala?

Phones. Yes, phones. Many visitors comment on how Antigua must have changed so much since I arrived in 1969. That was also the year that one of the first Spanish schools formally began (Proyecto Lingüístico Francisco Marroquín) and when the Protective Law for the Protection of La Antigua Guatemala was passed by the Guatemalan Congress. In 1969, a few houses […]

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Garifuna Traditions

A great number of Garifunas live on the Bay of Roatan, where they maintain their rich cultural traditions of music, dance, cuisine and much more. Garifuna music styles are known for their heavy use of percussion instruments and distinctive drumming, which combines the beats of primero (tenor) and segunda (bass) drums. Garifuna drums are usually made from hollowed-out hardwoods such […]

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Flowers from the Árbol del Hermano Pedro

This species has been appreciated in Mesoamerica since pre-Hispanic times for its unique beauty and medicinal properties. Tea from the dried flowers are attributed various medicinal properties, mainly as a tranquilizer, analgesic and to control high blood pressure and heart disease. Scientists are investigating its antidepressant effect.

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Pyrotechnics

You discovered how Guatemalans enjoy pyrotechnics the first morning you awoke before dawn to strings of pops and loud booms. Nothing serious happening, just friends celebrating a birthday or anniversary. That evening you may see fireworks from next door or across town, from a fiesta, concert, or just having fun. Fireworks are for any old day, not just for independence. […]

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Roses in Guatemala Part II

Now that you’ve planted those roses, which flourish so vigorously in Guatemala, what do you do with them? I once started an article for a Guatemalan newspaper with the comment that it’s hard to kill a rose here. The editor took that comment out with a rebuke, “That’s not what the readers want!” But roses are hardy, especially in Guatemala’s […]

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The Building of a Remarkable Colonial Capital

Antigua’s architecture is remarkable. The capital, known as Santiago de Guatemala, was founded by the Spanish (1541) in what was then a remote valley, after the previous capital was inundated by floods and mudslides. Water, climate and fertile soil were the main factors in deciding its new location. In 1543, shortly after celebrating the first city council meeting, there was […]

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Cajetería Ajpop in Guatemala

Jesús Manuel García and the art of the box Text/Photos by Hilary Kilpatric “My favorite part of my work is shaping the pinewood into boxes. I love the feeling of starting out with a simple piece of wood and finishing with a finely crafted box,” explains Jesús Manuel García, leader of the artisan group Cajetería Ajpop. García was born in […]

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Growing Roses in Guatemala

Guatemala is a major exporter of roses to the United States and Europe. The epicenter of rose production used to be La Antigua Guatemala, but rising real estate prices have pushed it far afield, especially since hothouse construction has never been so easy and inexpensive. Step one is to dig a hole, leaving ample depth and sides. Digging a hole […]

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Rigoberta Menchú, Changing the World

When a Guatemalan indigenous woman stepped forward to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, a light was momentarily cast upon indigenous people throughout the world. Rigoberta Menchú Tum, who was living in self-imposed exile at the time, was awarded the prestigious accolade in recognition of her work: highlighting the exploitation and persecution of the country’s indigenous people during its […]

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What system is used for property measurements in Guatemala?

A common question I receive is about property measurements, probably expecting the short answer as whether we use feet (imperial system) or meters (metric system). No easy answers here. When the Spanish came in 1524, European measurements were based on Marcus Vitruvius’ (80-70 BC—15 AD) “De Architectura,” known today as the “Ten Books of Architecture.” According to Vitruvius, architecture is […]

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Museum of Modern Art Carlos Mérida

A journey of the individuals and events that have shaped Guatemala’s art scene Proudly centered around the Quetzaltecan artist Carlos Mérida, Guatemala’s Museum of Modern Art takes visitors on a journey of the individuals and events that have shaped the country’s art scene. Originally built as a salón de baile for President General Jorge Ubico in the 1930s, the beautifully […]

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Unlocking Samajab

The Museo Lacustre de Atitlán stunningly presents an important underwater archaeological site The task of conveying the wonders and rarity of an abandoned, underwater Mayan burial and ceremonial site to dry, fully clothed museum-goers on the surface was quite a challenge for the Museo Lacustre de Atitlán, the informative underwater-themed exhibit dedicated to Samabaj. Although the actual Mayan site is […]

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The Artisans of Flor de San Juan

by Hilary Kilpatric “I want to wear the traditional dress of my people, but I also enjoy contemporary fashion. I love starting with something traditional as a base and modifying it into something fashionable and sexy. This way I am able to wear clothes that display my heritage while keeping up with the latest fashion trends,” explained Angélica Mendoza, the […]

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Master Fisherman, Paustino Cruz Colindres

Being the fishing fanatic that I am, I always love investigating what is happening around Guatemala in the fishing industry and trying my luck at fishing in all its various forms. One of my favorite little fishing villages on the Pacific Coast is El Paredón Buena Vista. This tranquil little town, with its sandy streets and friendly locals, was more […]

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Leslie Nanne

Art Exposition at Museo Ixchel showcases Guatemalan artist’s book illustrations When Leslie Nanne first decided back in high school that she wanted to be an illustrator, she admits having a few concerns: “I was afraid of becoming a starving artist,” she says. “But I was even more afraid of choosing a ‘safer’ profession and always wondering whether I could have […]

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Maya Woman Series on Exhibit

Wendy Carpenter’s work in weaving, dyeing and basketry spans more than 35 years. The accomplished fiber artist has spent the past nine years working with craftsmen and women in Central America and Mexico on textile designs and organizing sewing cooperatives, as well as custom-cutting jadeite and quartz geodes for making jewelry. Her Maya Woman series on exhibit at La Antigua […]

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25 Years of El Attico

An art gallery that doubles as a research center It’s not just technology that has changed since El Attico first opened its doors in April 1988. Back then it was an antique shop that doubled as an art gallery; now it’s an art gallery that doubles as a research center. “The antique shop was dwindling, while the art gallery was […]

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Mission Accomplished! Restoration of the Paintings at Catedral de San José

Close-up of St. John painting showing the serpent emerging from the chalice

Close to 10 years ago, while admiring some Christmas decorations at San José Catedral in Antigua, I was astonished at the poor state of preservation of the colonial paintings. All of the original colonial art had been moved to the new capital in 1773, except for the 1680 paintings of the apostles by Mexican artist Juan de Correa (1646-1716). Restored […]

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Palm Weavers

by Hilary Kilpatric “I enjoy working with palm because it is found locally and it is the traditional material used by the people here. Plus using palm for artisan goods does not damage the environment,” said Catarina Tamup de Leon, leader of the Palm Weavers, when asked about why she loves her work. The Palm Weavers group is located in […]

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Transformations From Newsprint to Art

by Karin Bergstresser When you live in paradise, you have a responsibility to maintain a healthy ecosystem. U.S -born Kenneth Wood, who has lived in Guatemala for over two decades, makes his contribution to the environment by turning old newsprint into art. He collaborates with ADISA, an organization in Santiago Atitlán that offers employment to young adults with physical and/or […]

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Lent & Semana Santa in Antigua Guatemala

Antigua used to be second to Seville, Spain for its Lenten celebration until recently. It is now considered the largest celebration in the world with 50 activities during the 40 days of Lent. In March processions fill the streets of Antigua with the fragrance of incense, pine needles, flowers and coroso (a pod also used for carpet making). The increase […]

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La Camioneta

Guatemalan Bus documentary wins awards at film festivals Guatemala is no stranger to the iconic symbol of North American transport—big, yellow school buses crowd the streets of tiny pueblos and carry thousands of Guatemalans up and down the country every day. But how do these buses go from the United States down to Guatemala and become transformed into camionetas? Mark […]

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Beginning of Lent in Antigua Guatemala

The first Sunday after the first full moon of spring is Easter, this year on March 27. Count back seven Wednesdays to mark the beginning of the 40-day period of Lent on the Christian calendar. It is Ash Wednesday, and the date in 2005 is February 9. In La Antigua Guatemala this means the beginning of vigils (velaciones) and processions, […]

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Siggy Holbik

Bridging cultures and continents with Guatemalan crafts Many of us living in (and visiting) La Antigua Guatemala love to stop by Casa de los Gigantes (7a calle oriente #18) from time to time to see what’s new in the “House of the Giants.” It is well worth your time to investigate every nook and cranny for some treasure or another. […]

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San Pedro Artisans

by Hilary Kilpatric “I love what I do. I have acquired considerable experience, and it is rewarding to see people appreciate my work. We work with sustainable woods, and everything we do is entirely done by hand. It is our way of preserving the environment,” explains lead carpenter Teo Hernández. The carpentry team consists of five, who work just outside […]

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El Mundo del Artista Maya

Una impresionante exposición de piezas arqueológicas que muestran la visión del Mundo del Artista Maya, se presentará en el marco del XII Festival Internacional de Cultura Paiz, acompañada de un ciclo de conversatorios a cargo de expertos en el tema. La XII edición del Festival Internacional de Cultura Paiz, además de presentar al público originales eventos musicales, también contará con […]

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