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Tag: Guatemala

Lake Atitlan Villages

When I first began to research Lake Atitlan villages almost two years ago, there wasn’t a lot of diverse information. Lake Atitlan is a massive lake with 15 small villages surrounding it. What I could find online basically said every village was  gringo town with a little variety here and there. Now, I’ve been back and forth to the lake probably 10 times. Here is what I wish I knew about the Lake Atitlan Villages when I first went.

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A Self-Fulfilling Cycle

 

When I first came to Guatemala I was overwhelmed. As I spent more time here, I was able to sort through things. I work with a nonprofit aiming to better the lives of those living in the red zones. That’s a staggering task, but we are targeting the youth and pairing them with mentors to invest in their lives. And, it works. The next generation of youth are less likely to become involved in gangs, fall into abusive cycles and are more poised than their parents to break cycles of their communities.

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A Guatemalan Christmas

A Guatemalan Christmas always includes fireworks

This year, I marked my first true Guatemalan Christmas. I’ve been in the country leading up to Christmas, but never spent the big day here. There is no Thanksgiving in Guatemala. So, the natural US divide between ‘Christmas time’ and the rest of the year is gone. I’ve always grown up with a more traditional Southern Christmas. Maybe a little black Friday shopping after Thanksgiving. But Christmas doesn’t get into full swing until a week or two before. We would decorate the house and then Christmas Eve and Christmas Day the family would get together for dinner. Sometimes we hit the movie theaters Christmas Day. Not in Guatemala.

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Guatemala Independence Day as a Foreigner

The Guatemalan flag on Guatemala Independence Day

September 15, a normal day for us foreigners. But, a day of pride and joy for Guatemalans. It celebrates their independence as a colony of Spain. This year, marked the 195th anniversary of independence for Guatemala. If in town, make sure not to miss out on this exciting day. Guatemala Independence Day is a true local holiday. To really enjoy the celebrations, you need to get off the tourist circuit and get local. Read on to see how I enjoyed Guatemala Independence Day as a foreigner.

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Loss of the Chichicastenango Market

Chichicastenango Market bags

The Chichicastenango Market

The Chichicastenango market is one the largest and most well known markets in Guatemala. The town is nestled in the Mayan highlands in the department (or state) of Quiché. It is usually on every traveler’s list of places to visit when in Guatemala. Shuttles and guides provide weekly visits to the Mayan community to see the market. On market days (Thursday and Sunday) vendors line the main square to sell their goods.

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Stories from the Field: Forced to Grow up too Fast

Lodereyes

Here in Guatemala, I have met a teenage girl, Josephine. She’s grown up in a rural area in between Guatemala City and San Pedro Ayumpuc, the next large city to the northeast. This area is known for violence and it is common to hear gun shots every evening. Gang members permeate throughout the community. For much of her life she grew up with a single mom. When she was younger, her mother would lock her and her older brother in the house alone; afraid to allow them to be in the neighborhood unsupervised and with no other child care options.

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