As we take off for Central America (this time to Costa Rica), we think back to our first visit to the region a couple of years ago: Antigua, Guatemala.
Although Antigua has a reputation for being touristy, we found that it wasn’t too difficult to get lost and find a slice of authentic Guatemalan life. One of our favorite places to do this: Antigua’s central market.
Walk past the front section of the market, past the souvenirs and freshly cut fruit intended for gringos, and just keep going back, back — deep into the market, maybe even into the adjacent back parking lot areas where on weekends vendors come from neighboring villages.
It’s beyond this first scratch where you’ll find it: real life. Open the panorama to full screen to see it. Continue Reading »
Stand in the middle of the Grand Plaza between Temple I and Temple II at Tikal, Guatemala and imagine what life must have been like in this Mayan city over 1,200 years ago when Tikal was at its peak. The size of the temples and surrounding acropolis indicate that this must have been a rich and sophisticated city-state. Yet the ruins are only partially exposed and understood, as thick rain forest still covers most of the park.
And the grand mystery remains: Why was Tikal abandoned in 900 AD?
We can’t answer that question, but we can give a sense of what it’s like to sit in the middle of the Grand Plaza and wonder. Continue Reading »
Ever wondered what sawdust carpets have to do with Good Friday? Continue Reading »
What does a family-run small business launched or expanded with the help of a microloan look like? We offer a couple of answers…in three dimensions.
Maybe you’ve seen our photo essays from microfinance programs in Guatemala and India. Now we share a three-dimensional inside look – via 360 degree panoramic photography – at two small family-run businesses in Guatemala. Continue Reading »
Guatemala surprises with its variety and delivers a diversity of humanity and landscape that belies its size. Continue Reading »
Descendants of shipwrecked slaves from Nigeria; Jerry Garcia’s rumored Caribbean seaside bungalow hideout; warrior dances (see video below) and turtle shell drums; echoes of an accented
pigeon pidgin English that smacks of Jamaica; and a remarkable coconut seafood soup called tapado.
This is Livingston, home of the Garifuna. This is the other side of Guatemala.
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Some friends have suggested that we attach helmet cameras to our heads to give viewers the unabridged full monty version of our lives.
Trust us, you really don’t want to see all of it. Continue Reading »
There we were at the dock in San Pedro bargaining for a boat to Santiago. The price seemed prohibitively high for a whimsical afternoon side trip on Lake Atitlan. Natasha, another traveler hoping to take the same boat, also questioned the price.
“You know, I have a car here. We could drive. You can just give me some gas money.”
Sounded like a reasonable alternative.
Just as we turned to leave, the boat ticket salesman’s voice rose, “Carretera. Banditos. Peligroso.” (Highway. Bandits. Dangerous.) Continue Reading »
When Guatemala City and the town of Totonicapan both wound up our itinerary, several Guatemalans we spoke to wondered aloud, “Now why exactly are you going there again?”
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The other day we broke down in Guatemala City — in front of a piñata factory no less.
I helped push the stalled PT Cruiser whose motor had knocked, pinged and spoken of better days. Back then forward, we rolled the car out of traffic and into a parking lot.
Guatemala City is notorious for guns, violence, drugs, blighted neighborhoods and danger lurking around every corner. And there we were in a sketchy little parking lot in the middle of the city at dusk. Continue Reading »