Guatemala is a little known country that can be found just South of Mexico, in amongst all of those little know Central American Countries that most people know very little about, because they are obviously dull, uninteresting places to visit… In fact, there’s no point visiting, because there’s nothing of interest to you at all. Nothing.
1. Mayan Ruins
There’s nothing special about Mayan Ruins. They’re just huge temples built with a strong astronomical influence by a little understood civilization thousands of years ago, whose ancestors still survive today. So what if you can climb the most impressive ones at Tikal, or can only reach them by trekking through the jungle. What’s impressive about that?
What’s the big deal. Loads of countries have volcanos. So what if you can climb one that’s still active, and feel the warmth from the hot lava rocks so much so that you can toast marshmallows. Who is interested in hiking up an extinct volcano for views over a crater lake, which itself was formed in a huge volcanic eruption hundreds of years ago?
3. Colonial Cities
There’s nothing interesting about colonial Spanish architecture. Who wants to explore quirky cobbled streets lined with colourful houses, with a beautiful church on every corner? Where’s the fun in that?
Why would you want to wake up to the sound of wild Howler Monkeys instead of an alarm clock, or watch a peacock mating display, or marvel at the cheeky antics of spider monkeys, let alone scan the trees for the Quetzal, Guatemala’s national bird. Garden sparrows and fat city pigeons are way more exotic.
5. Local People
Who wants to chat to the locals, they are too loud as they call out to sell snacks, help you onto buses, and have interesting tales to tell you about a completely different life. They won’t welcome you into their homes with open arms, there won’t be a connection strong enough for tears when you leave, there won’t be fun and jokes and smiles and merry making, there won’t be sharing and merrymaking. Why not just stick to the crowded rush hour trains instead?
6. Lakes and Pools
There’s nothing interesting in spending a day relaxing, playing and exploring the beautiful turquoise waters of natural limestone pools at Semuc Champey, or marvelling at a lake so vast that you can only see the other side on a clear day, where boats are better than roads to reach nearby villages, or beautiful waterfalls to play and relax with. Isn’t the local pool way more fun?
7. Local Transport
Weather it’s a nippy tuk tuk, a vibrant Chicken bus or an overcrowded pick up truck, riding with the locals is certain to bring plenty of excitement, and adventurous tales. Chatting to local farmers carrying machetes and ancient looking rifles, squeezing onto a child size seat with 2 locals, or overtaking on a blind bend and being thankful that your driver was one of the few to honk their horn as a precaution. Where else could you get a thrilling ride?
There is just too much to chose from. It’s really hard to decide which beautiful, vibrantly coloured scarf you want when faced with such a selection of amazing colours and combinations. The comfy, funky trousers, embroidered blouses, cute, colourful purses, lap top cases, cushion covers, shoes, (you name it, they have it). I could fill a house full of Guatemalan cloth and still never have enough. How do you combat that much desire?
There is lush jungle, serene lakes, perfect pools, picturesque waterfalls, cool mountains, and looming volcanos throughout Guatemala. In fact, it’s hard to get away from as even the cities are surrounded by natural beauty. It’s too much to experience it all, so why not just stick to a flat picture instead?
Whatever you want, whatever you like, just name a price and haggle. it’s a fun game with the locals, one most tourists (me included) probably got constantly wrong. How much do you haggle, when do you stop, what do you ask as your start price compared to theirs? the bustle is immense, the good on offer vast, and the social interactions constant. They are crazy, beautiful, and without a doubt the best place to buy food, gifts, souvenirs, and anything and everything else you might want. Still think online shopping is better?
I loved Guatemala, I don’t have the words to express quite how much I fell in love with the country, I would happily have stayed their longer and there is more I want to see. Of all the countries I have visited during my travels, it is top on the list of ones I want to re-visit. Hmmm, guess I’d best get practising my Spanish!