Written by United Planet Team Member Lucille
When I first told my friends that I was going to Guatemala, I remember their reactions, their eyes wide open, staring at me, they asked me “really?”, “but why,” “it is not a place where I would think to go…” “it’s just so far!” And now, when I tell them what I did there, the only thing they say is that they can’t wait to see the photos I took.
The first place where I stayed in Guatemala was Antigua. It is a lovely colonial city which, unfortunately, has been destroyed by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions many times. Everywhere in the city, you can see old churches with a beautiful facade, but only ruins behind it. One thing that I like in Antigua, and it is also true for all the places I visited in Guatemala, is that the streets are really colorful. There are houses painted in all kind of colors, from yellow to blue and pink. In the streets you also see women and children in traditional clothes. I love the fact that locals don’t wear the traditional dress for tourists: it is just their everyday clothes!
Later, I left Antigua to go to Livingston. I cannot find the words to say how different the atmosphere there was. First, you can access it only by boat, and once you reach this remote city, you immediately notice it’s African roots. This Guatemalan Rasta city has found its own balance between the cultures of Jamaica and Guatemala where people speak Garifuna, a language that I have never heard before.
The last side of Guatemala I wanted to talk about is, of course, the Mayan civilization. You can find Mayan ruins in many places in Guatemala. I went to Quirigua, which is one of the best places in Guatemala to see steles which are large carvings made on vertical pieces of stone or wood. Indeed, all the sculptures are very well preserved, but what impressed me the most was of course the ruins of Tikal. Tikal was a major urban center of the Pre-Columbian Maya civilization, and today, it is a huge natural park in the jungle where you can see Mayan Temples, observatories, and many other buildings from the fourth century B.C .to the tenth century A.D. It is really an amazing feeling to walk in the jungle and suddenly see a building that is ten centuries old appear in front of you!
My travels in Guatemala were a wonderful experience and I recommend the trip to everyone.