Viva Travel Guides have just released their latest guidebook, following on from their success with guides to Colombia, Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador and more. This time we’re treated to an insightful and original guide to Guatemala. And I wrote a lot of it so I know it’s going to be good!
Antigua, Guatemala, may not be at the top of just anyone’s must-visit list but the fact is it should be at the top of yours, especially if you’re a discerning foodie also partial to a fine tipple. In 1997 Antigua became the first ever designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, an accolade it well-deserves. The setting is stunning: surrounded by the lush green peaks of the Agua and Fuego volcanoes (the latter occasionally letting out a sigh of smoke), the evocative cobblestone streets and tended ruins (homage to the tenacity of the inhabitants who survived and rebuilt the city after numerous earthquakes throughout the 1700s), the Maya in bright traditional dress with their horse-drawn carts around the plaza central reminiscent of a simpler time, all this comes together to create a fairy tale-like setting where the pressures of reality seem suspended. And within this oasis of calm you’re free to wander and discover the hundreds of gastronomic gems. In fact, there’s a different restaurant here for every day of the week so you are literally spoilt for choice. However, if you only had a week these are five of the best you should not miss.
on the beach; what more needs to be said. We are in La Buga – Livingston, a town accessible only by boat on Guatemala’s short 74-km Caribbean coastline. Here Latin meets Black Carib, this being focal point of the Garifuna people – a culture born out of Africans meeting Caribbeans on the island of St Vincent during the days of European colonial rule.
On the road for work I have seen some remarkable sights over the past few days. In Esquipulas I saw the ancient caving of a black Jesus Christ, the site of a mega pilgrimage every year on January 15th.
Guatemala’s farming poor are suffering from the knock-on effects of global warming. For the third year running the country’s rivers and agricultural potential have shrunk resulting in a food shortage crisis across five of the driest states. So far, the deaths of at least 25 children have been directly attributed to chronic malnutrition and now the EU has stepped in pledging $18,750,000 (about â‚¬13,000,000). If we all just turned off our TVs, our A/C units, drove our cars less or did some recycling it’d be a lot cheaper.
September 15th was the day of two important events: celebrating Central America’s almost two centuries of independence from Spain, and, no less significant, it was also Miguel’s birthday.
To mark the occasion we threw a garden party and cooked up a feast on the BBQ: satay chicken with peanut sauce, shrimp and veggie kebabs, hotdogs and fajitas. I even made a chocolate ‘avalanche’ cake. And all washed down with plenty of rum and watermelon vodka m- after which all the nice people told Miguel he only looked 24.
Wherever you go you one of the first words you learn is how to say ‘I am hung over’ in the local parlance. In Spain – tengo resaca; Mexico – estoy crudo; Ecuador – estoy chuchaqui; and Guatemala – estoy de goma. Here, it literally means I am sticky, rubbery! Well today we are sticking to the sofa and the watching movies and eating pizza all day.
August 15 is the day commemorating the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, when many believe that Jesus’ mother at the end of her life physically rose to heaven. Jocotenango, small town just 20 minutes walk from Antigua, holds annually a fÃªte to celebrate this religious festival and so we went along to see what it was all about.
And to be honest, it was just like Honley carnival from when I was growing up in Yorkshire.
We arrived in Antigua Guatemala on Friday night, having moved here for my freelance travel writing work, and spent the weekend wandering around in awe of this beautiful city.
Once the capital of Spanish Guatemala, it was ravaged so many times by earthquakes that after the 1773 biggie the colonial government ordered everyone to abandon Antigua and move to Guatemala City. It is our good fortune that many inhabitants ignored the decrees and began to rebuild the city into what was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
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