Living Love Guatemalan Style!

Guatemalan smiles  (

Guatemalan smiles (

Arriving in Guatemala is a fascinating moment. Navigating the airport and arriving at your destination will certainly offer you glimpses of stunning landscapes. You will also be greeted by a cacophony of colors that seems bright in contrast to taupe-painted traditional western wear.

For many years prior to making the “leap” and moving here we would visit often and consistently experience the memorable Guatemalan smile. At one point an acquaintance shared a joke with us: How do you know the difference between a Guatemalan and a visitor? The Guatemalan is the one who is smiling.

Let’s face it, in many other countries there is a perception that Guatemala is not a choice destination, and there is a perpetuation of fear about arriving here. We frequently offer potential visitors the reassurance needed to select Guatemala and to navigate this stunning country safely and with memorable experiences.

What you may find most surprising is that on Dec. 19, 2012 Gallup published a poll that surveyed 150,000 people from 148 counties around the world. The topic? “Are you happy?” The poll included questions about their sense of receiving enough rest, being treated with respect, do they smile or laugh a lot and had they experienced a positive emotion the day before.

Ready for the results?
Seven of the top 10 countries are in Central or South America. Seven! Worldwide our diverse and often contradictory country of Guatemala ranked No. 7 in the happiest places in the world to live.

An interesting note is that the people least likely to report positive emotions lived in Singapore, the wealthy city-state that ranks among the most developed in the world. Other wealthier countries also placed low on the list. Germany and France tied with the poor African state of Somaliland for 47th place. The United States came in at No. 33.

Diving deeper into this revelation we discovered a quote on a website. It seems to sum up why Guatemalans feel so content:

“In Guatemala, it’s a culture of friendly people who are always smiling,” said Luz Castillo, a 30-year-old surfing instructor. “Despite all the problems that we’re facing, we’re surrounded by natural beauty that lets us get away from it all.”

On any given day in the central park in La Antigua Guatemala young lovers find themselves on benches stealing kisses, confident no one can see them. Walk down the street and the couple that has been married for 30 years or more are holding hands and smiling at each other, still enraptured by their love for each other. Start up a conversation about the fertile land here and watch people light up. There is always an affirming story to share about the bounty of the land and her beauty.

Today, as you enjoy the gift of simply being alive and taking in the vast experiences that Guatemala offers to you, if even for a moment, take the time to notice how many smiles are coming your way.

Smiles are universal and transcend borders, language and paradigms. Smiles keep you happy. It is love … Guatemalan style, and now is the time to unlock the happiness within and share it with all who greet you.

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