Guatemala Holiday Calendar

All year he hides under the bed or in the junk piled up in the corner, casting misfortune or worse on helpless mortals. But on Monday, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. sharp, the devil gets his comeuppance, as he is tossed out of the house along with the trash and set ablaze in the Quema del Diablo (Burning the Devil), a tradition in many Guatemalan towns that literally sparks the beginning of the Christmas season. —Juan Carlos Ordóñez

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The Blooming of Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán by (photo by Harris & Goller)

Panajachel unites and digs with defiance In The Green Felt Jungle, the story is told of a dapper man in pinstripes who rides a Cadillac into Las Vegas one night, seeking the neonized excitement of that gilded city. But he finds little more than a dreary gas station. “Where is Las Vegas?” he asks the Navajo attendant. “Right here,” is […]

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Exploring a Hidden Gem in Guatemala

A visitor to the El Pilar garden specially designed for hummingbirds (Thor Janson)

El Pilar is a unique, natural habitat located just 3.5 km from La Antigua’s central park. A little-known natural sanctuary is located just outside of La Antigua Guatemala where pools are brimming with fresh, mountain spring water every day and where multi-colored hummingbirds buzz around in sporadic sprints by the dozens.

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Kilometer Zero at the National Palace, Guatemala

text and photos by Michael Sherer Set at the northern end of the enormous Plaza Mayor, Guatemala’s National Palace is the origin of all the roads in the Republic with a spot known as Kilómetro Cero. Two and half miles north of the gleaming chrome-and-glass towers that line the Avenida La Reforma, the edifice is flanked by the Biblioteca Nacional […]

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Robert Hinshaw

Given his age, 75, you’d think anthropologist Robert Hinshaw would want to settle back with one of those Scandanavian vodkas he occasionally enjoys and retire to his Colorado mountain retreat. Instead, he wants to make a difference in this world, as “payback” for all he’s received. He explains: “Gilbert White, the late geographer and a great mentor, laid this challenge […]

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Horses Have Rights

There is a forgotten population in Guatemala: the equine population. The Foundation for Equine Welfare in Guatemala, known as ESAP, reports that the Guatemalan government has not included more than 250,000 equines in the country’s census since 2003. For six years, horses, mules and donkeys have been forgotten by the government, and ESAP says that neglect is reflected within rural […]

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Spectacular, Accessible Iximché Beckons

Iximché photo by Freddy Murphy/www.freddymurphy.com

From Kings to Conquerors, and Proconsuls to Presidents—all have trod here, leaving something and taking something. Most travelers whiz through Tecpán at white-knuckling speed on their way to Lake Atitlán or Quetzaltenango. Some slow down a bit to admire the towering thatches of the Katok and Kape Paulinos restaurants, which form a pastoral skyline. Still others stop for gas or […]

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Crafting Clay in Tutuapa, Guatemala

text and photos by Kathy Rousso Food tastes better when it is cooked in a clay pot, everyone agrees. While today enamel and aluminum cookware is found in most kitchens, many cooks still have a clay pot or two for their special dish. Before synthetic materials were available, clay pots, in many shapes and sizes, were the only option. Pottery […]

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Healthcare in Colonial Guatemala

Ruin of inside wall of Hospital Real de Santiago, now within a private garden

written by Joy Houston photos: Jack Houston Part I: 16th Century What medical options were available centuries ago in Guatemala for wounds from enemy arrows, burns, natural disasters or epidemics? Mixing medicine with magic was routine in colonial days. “Medical science was slave to theory and superstition,” writes Carlos Martínez Durán in Las Ciencias Médicas en Guatemala. What was done […]

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Thor Janson

Janson enjoys a morning cup before heading out to his 'studio'

Wildlife conservationist, photographer, author, adventurer, environmentalist and educator The volcano Pacaya in Guatemala began erupting more dramatically than usual one day several years ago, and nature photographer Thor Janson rushed to the slopes to take pictures for his files. “By 4 o’clock Pacaya was spewing molten lava several hundred meters into the air every 30 to 45 seconds,” Thor recalls. […]

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Producing Potable Water

A step in the process: clay and pine sawdust are poured into molds

The EcoFiltro has won awards for sustainable technology, now there is a need to make many more of them written by Michael Sherer On the outskirts of La Antigua Guatemala, set back in a corner of the 22-acre, lushly planted Finca El Pintado, is the factory that churns out daily miracles: clay pots, crafted from the best deposits from Rabinal, […]

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Comalapa Naïve

Oscar Perén with some of his paintings in his gallery

written by Dianne Carafino “The Florence of Guatemala” was once posted on a sign at the entrance of San Juan Comalapa. Regardless of such a welcome, Comalapa —an easy hour or so drive from La Antigua Guatemala—could hardly look less like Florence, Italy. Nestled among pine trees and cornfields in the scenic mountainous Western Highlands of the Department of Chimaltenango, […]

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Sensuous Guatemala: Semana Santa

Semana Santa (photo: leonel mijangos/enantigua.com)

Colorful carpets, thumping bands, pungent odors, rich tastes, thick crowds—through the Lenten season, into Palm Sunday and Semana Santa, Holy Week, all five senses are overwhelmed in every Guatemalan city and village, but nowhere more than in La Antigua Guatemala with its colonial traditions and frequent processions. Intricate floral designs, forming colorful alfombras, carpets, are most elaborate on Good Friday […]

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Semana Santa on the Lake: San Pedro La Laguna

Offerings of fruit adorn the gateways through which the processions pass. (photo: Victoria Stone)

written by Ana Flinder Semana Santa is undoubtedly the most festive week of the year in Guatemala, celebrated with the most pomp and grandeur in La Antigua, and with deeply traditional ceremonies and indigenous style in Santiago Atitlán. Both of these destinations require advanced bookings for lodging but are not the only places to experience a Guatemalan Semana Santa. San Pedro […]

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Semana Santa on the Lake: Santiago Atitlán

The men’s traje of Santiago features rows and rows  of hand-embroidered birds. (photo: Victoria Stone)

written by Ana Flinder Those of you who have your place to stay in La Antigua Guatemala for Semana Santa are sure to enjoy what is known as the second-biggest and most spectacular Semana Santa celebration in the world. (Second only to Sevilla, Spain, so they say.) And you know who you are. Because they also say that if you […]

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The Riecken Foundation

A new book club in Chiché, El Quiché

The Riecken Foundation establishes and supports community libraries in Guatemala and Honduras. The network of 11 community libraries in Guatemala provides dynamic programming for people of all ages and free access to information resources, including Internet, reading programs, youth clubs, technical workshops and cultural events. Mission: To promote democracy and prosperity in Central America through community libraries that spark a […]

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A Journey through Sweet Waters

Río Dulce, Guatemala (photo: Scott Drennan)

Written by Gregory Kipling photo: Scott Drennan Exploring Río Dulce Past and Present Measuring a mere 42 kilometers from source to mouth, Río Dulce is hardly one of Central America’s great waterways. However, despite its small size the river has attracted a great deal of attention over the past 500 years. Conquistadors, scientists, pirates and adventurers have all passed through […]

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La Antigua is No. 1 Destination Among UK Travelers

Antigua Top City (freddy murphy/www.freddymurphy.com)

La Antigua Guatemala has been named the top city overall in the Wanderlust Travel Awards 2009, based on the votes of some 3,000 travelers. Wanderlust is a leading magazine for adventure travelers in the United Kingdom. Placing second was Kyoto, Japan, followed by Boston, USA. The previous first-place destination, Luang Prabang, Laos, was knocked down into seventh position, ending its […]

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Guatemala’s Unique Chachales

Red beads have long held a certain fascination not just here but around the world.

A second word is chachal, Quiché for necklace. The evolution of chachales in Guatemala is a fascinating tale of history, economics and anthropology. At the time of the Conquest, Guatemala’s indigenous prized red coral as component in necklaces. As easily recoverable near-shore coral became scarce, sharp traders, chiefly in Europe, manufactured substitutes and introduced them into Guatemala as trade goods. These were almost but not always red, apparently to satisfy taste here and elsewhere.

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La Cambalacha Youth Art Initiative

Gabriela (Gabi to her students) leading a dance exercise

Text and photos by Jennifer Block Restoring creative expression through direct action, Gabriela Cordón aims to transform Guatemala’s educational system via her youth arts initiative. You’d be forgiven for thinking La Cambalacha is just another summer camp for kids. The place spills forth with color and laughter. On stage, a group of children practice a clown routine; another group makes […]

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Festival Atitlán

Ranferí Aguilar and Hacedor de Lluvia (Rain Maker)

March is coming, time for Festival Atitlán. On March 14, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Santiago Atitlán will once again host this annual alternative cultural event featuring live music and arts. Since 2001, there have been six festivals, each one more interesting than the last. Proceeds from the past four festivals have been donated to help rebuild Hospitalito Atitlán, which was destroyed by mudslides from Hurricane Stan in 2005.

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