Guatemala, 1992

Guatemala may be a relatively small country but it has a lot to offer visitors. It is a lush, verdant tropical country with plenty of gorgeous natural beauty, ancient Mayan ruins, and excellent cuisine.

Aside from Bolivia, Guatemala is the only country in the Americas that still is mostly populated by native people. Many of these indigenous people still wear traditional clothing and live much as their ancestors did. Ancient Mayan religious rites are incorporated into the Roman Catholicism of the Spanish conquerors and the Mayan language is still very much in every day use by the majority of the inhabitants.

Guatemalans love to use vibrant colours in their lives. Homes and businesses are usually of a mix of glorious pastel hues and its common for people – women in particular – to dress in a bright spectrum of colours. This rainbow riot certainly helps to enliven photos of the country.

Tourism in Guatemala is centered around the pleasant little Colonial city of Antigua just a short drive from Guatemala City. Antigua is ringed by volcanoes and it’s possible to climb one or more of these in a day trip. I went up Mount Pacaya which is a live volcano that had an active cinder cone spewing out molten magma. Quite a sight!

The Pacific Coast of the country was devoid of tourists when I visited in 1992. At a place called Iztapa (yes there’s a place called this in Mexico too), I saw a huge expanse of vacant sandy beach without a single sunbather in sight. I wonder if that’s still the case.

On the Caribbean Coast there is a large number of Afro-Caribbean people in a town called Livingston. The atmosphere is certainly more Caribbean than Central American and the reggae soundtracks of the bars and restaurants in Livingston accented that fact.

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