By popular vote

Hola amigos!…If you’re in a social network such as Facebook, pretty much the usual the routine is liking and commenting on a post (status update) of your friends, or reading trending articles and watching videos. And from time to time, you’ll also bump into photo contests…and that’s what I caught myself into recently.

I joined a small photo contest of an english magazine here in Guatemala, with the theme “Architecture in Guatemala”, for their September issue. Looking at the first few entries already posted at the magazine’s Facebook page submitted by professional photographers, I felt quite hesitant to send mine. I mean, with my simple digital camera and not so smart smartphone, my photos are simply for fun by a shutterbug like me. However, I wanted to share some photos I took during my travels around the country to a wider audience, images of the intricacy of every buildings I’ve seen so far in Guatemala. The architectural influences reflected in every building and in every municipality  that captivated my eyes and truly admired.

And there it was, I submitted my entry and landed myself as an official participant of the contest. To be honest, I was quite unsure whether people who will see my photo will get what exactly the subject of my entry. Will they appreciate my interpretation of “architecture” or will they ever get it at first glance. But what the heck anyways, as they say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

Detailed architecture from Xela's City Hall. Taken from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
Detailed architecture from Xela’s City Hall. Taken from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

So there are 2 categories in the contest, one is “by popular vote” and the second  is “by editorial decision”. Initially, winning the contest came only second but as the contest approaching to its end, I found myself bitten by the “like” bug of Facebook.  Thinking, how cool will it be to see my name and photo in print.  I knew that my chance of winning the “by editorial decision”, is quite vague. Seriously, so many amazing photo entries, therefore, the “by editorial decision” is out for me and I aimed to get the other category instead.  The competitive genes in me were raging and told myself, “I can convince (or harass 😉 ) my 400+ Facebook friends to like my entry, I can win this”. And yes, it was an adrenaline rush to lead against the other participants…Game on!

To my surprise as well, my close friends commented that they sincerely liked my picture and even those whom I barely talked to appreciated my entry too.  That was a treat, to know that other people see and appreciate what you consider to be interesting and beautiful. And voila! I won the “by popular vote” category. With 382 votes with 50 votes lead cut off time and still counting up to the next day. To see all photo contest winners and read more about the magazine please check-out this link http://www.revuemag.com/2014/08/winners-of-the-revue-photo-contest-september-2014-architecture-in-guatemala/.

contest.jpg

Aside from winning, of course there are some realizations that came out of this contest. I was reminded of few life lessons along the way.

1. Courage. I mentioned to one of my friends that I joined a photo contest, as well as my preoccupations about it. Me, being shy and hesitant about the idea of sharing my interpretation of what is beautiful and interesting. I was concerned that my work will not be validated the way I wanted it to be, or the approval I was hoping to get. I was concerned what other people will think about it, about me. You know what, people will always have an opinion about you, might as well do it anyway. The fact that you put yourself out there is already an act of courage, expressing yourself bravely. If it something positive, will bring out the best in you and will inspire others, go ahead do the things you’ve wanted to do. As the saying goes “You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”.

2. Hardwork. Gathering “like” votes is a work itself. Sharing the link on your wall doesn’t do the magic you wanted to be. Analyzing Facebook algorithm is quite tricky, you have to understand how often and when your friends will see your post. You need to have a game plan on how to guide your friends, on how to like the photo and have their like votes be counted. Serious stuff, isn’t it. Aside from sharing the link on your wall, you might want to consider posting it on your group pages, private messages, and tapping your close friends to do you a favor by sharing the link as well to their friends. Believe me, it is crazy! If you want to achieve positive outcome, you have to work hard and smart to get the result you wanted. But remember that win or lose, what matters most is that you played the game well and clean. You’ll reap the fruits of your labor or in other form eventually.

3. Gratitude.  Out of the 414 friends I have on my Facebook account, I asked maybe half of them one by one for their like vote. People whom I have really close relationship with. Friends from grade school, high school, college, my family and relatives.  All of them who helped me gather those “like votes” and happily joined my craziness. And I thanked them one by one as well after winning the contest. It may sound silly but you have to celebrate those simple triumph, I shared that simple happiness as well with the people I know by heart.  Be grateful for those real people in your life who helped/helping you, either in big or small things and don’t forget to value their time and effort that they extend to you. They are all your real winnings in life.

4. Reconnect. While I was talking to my friends about the contest, I actually was able to catch up with them as well. It was sort of way to update myself about my friends. It gave me the chance to know more on what they are up to nowadays, that even they post pictures and updates on their Facebook, I found myself missing out a lot about them still. I learned the real deal, stories behind every updates they posted.  Somehow, it reminds me that to maintain a friendship even in a long distance you have to improvise your ways to keep that closeness burning you have among your real friends.

5. Have fun and chill. If you decide to participate in a contest like this on Facebook, have fun! I laughed a lot during those moments I was talking to my friends about this photo contest. Joking around about the possible “30 days of fame” I could get by being featured in a magazine, the acceptance speech, and the story behind my entry. It was a hilarious moment.  Don’t be carried away with all the hype of work. Enjoy, laugh, and relax. Whatever you’re doing, as you put all your heart and effort to carry out things, never forget to have fun. That makes the journey and the reasons behind joining a stint like this extra special.

Thank you for reading my thoughts and come back again and again. If you have something to share….please, please feel free to leave me some comments below.

Hasta luego!

Love,

Imelda

Another way of life

It is not the first time that I approached and talked to those people in the street with hippie hairdo and get up “a la Bob Marley”, making intricate hand-made bracelets, necklaces, rings, and sell them to people passing by.  With their improvised table, their finished products are definitely an eye candy and attract people. I surely forgot what my mother told me, not to talk to strangers.

Personally, I love those stuff. Simply because every piece is unique and carefully handcrafted to perfection. You will notice that it is an art in another form. The artistry, quality, time, and effort poured to create a masterpiece is impeccable. Plus, their prices oftentimes are negotiable and you can even customize the design of the item you like on the spot.

Furthermore, talking to them is always like seeing a new perspective when it comes to vagabond, wanderlust, nomadic lifestyle. A lifestyle that is certainly not for me completely, but maybe I have a dash of it in me when opportunity to travel comes along my way. I can’t imagine myself living in a backpack and no permanent place to stay. But I’m always fascinated how they can sustain themselves while and always on the go, their stories of the road, their craftsmanship and how they connect with people.Weaver.jpg

I find them interesting. This time, I talked to this guy who right away noticed that I’m not from Guatemala and I’m asian. He gave me a vibe that he has been to many places and mingled with other nationalities. He speaks good spanish, not slang, nor gibberish, in a sense that I easily understood every single word he said and not trying to connect the dots of what he is trying to imply. He still go to school apparently, not sure how he does studying in a very transient schedule (must be tough or maybe not).  And, surprise, surprise, he got an Iphone.

I guessed you can call it modern-day nomads. I found out where he came from and the places he wandered. I enjoyed our conversation more when he started sharing some of his travel adventures especially to those places that I’ve been too before. He showed me some weaving techniques and asked him how he got those beautiful stones he uses for his stuff. He said from his friends all around the world, given to him. Some are from Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, to name a few. That adds more to the character of his products.  He also mentioned his next destination, his next adventure. Though, I wanted to ask him more questions but I don’t want  to take too much of his time while working on his products.Weaver 2

The exchange of travel stories, travel tips, inside scoops and  random talks, made me realize that if we put our guards down a bit, just a little bit, you’ll learn something new from other people. To listen to their stories, you can understand things and correct wrong impressions. That, it is indeed a small world after all. Every time I talk to people like him, it reminds me to do the things you love to do, that everybody will always have an opinion about you, but, what matters most, is that, if it will make you happy and you don’t do any harm to others, DO it. Never mind those lousy comments.

So next time when you hit the road, and you see someone selling artisanal things, stop for a while. Talk to them, maybe you’ll learn one thing or two. Maybe, you’ll look at things in another way or appreciate another way of life.

Hasta pronto!

 

Love,

Imelda

 

 

Guatemalan food, embracing local flavors

Guatemalan Food

¡Oye chicos!  Many will agree with me that for those who are living abroad, aside from family & friends, one of the things that certainly being missed back home, is the food. You may have tasted the most sumptuous meals of different cuisines all around the world, yet, the flavors that scream home still linger in your mouth. Food that you grew up eating with, that nourished you, and gave you comfort. Thanks to fast changing time and migration, food back home becomes accessible to mostly anywhere in the world. Whatever nationality it is, people find products from their country to where they are now based.

Part of the adjustments in living abroad, is embracing local cuisine and lifestyle.  Discovering and indulging into local food is something I enjoy. Before living here in Guatemala, we lived in Montreal, a culturally diverse city. In every corner, you’ll find restaurants of different cuisines. From Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Italian, Vietnamese, Greek, Lebanese, Creole, Romanian, Mexican, Filipino and a lot more, everything is so accessible. Then, things changed when we moved in Guatemala. I basically cook and eat what Guatemalans cook and eat. Living far from the city, access to Filipino products and other international cuisines became limited. I started using local produce, spices & herbs indigenous to the country, embracing Guatemalan food culture in general.

Though there are many similarities between Guatemalan and Filipino food all in all, there are things that until now I’m still trying to get used to, like having tortilla everyday. Corn plays an important role in Guatemalan food menu. Many Guatemalan meals are corn-based, like tamales, chuchitos, atol and the most important one, tortilla. If you’ve been to other Latin American countries, you’ll notice that they have the same food but each country have their own take and twist on it. Here are some Guatemalan food that I learned to love and somehow became my comfort food too. Some food are quite familiar to my taste buds that makes Guatemala and Philippines have something in common. Let me take you to a virtual Guatemalan food trip.

Starting the day right

Guatemalan food
Typical Guatemalan breakfast

Morning always starts with a hearty meal. Tortilla, scrambled egg, cheese, home-made tomato sauce, black beans and of course Guatemalan coffee.

Oh my hot Tamales!

Guatemalan food
Tamale

Saturday is tamales day for our family. Made of “masa de maiz” and stuffed with chicken or pork meat. Usually served during special occasions and taste extra delicious when accompanied with café or hot chocolate drink.

Keep warm, have some atol!

Guatemalan food
Atol de elote

Atol is a hot beverage perfect for cold weather. A corn-based drink, topped with corn tidbits and cinnamon powder, usually consumed in the morning and during cold weather season.

Stuff it up

Guatemalan Food
Rellenitos de platano

A simple dessert made of smashed plantains with cinnamon &  filled with black beans. It so simple to prepare but the process is pretty lengthy. With a little dash of sugar at the end, and you are good to go with your rellenitos de platano.

Meat lover’s delight

Guatemalan food
Churrasco

Grilled meat, guacamole, black beans, cheese, chirmol (sauce made of tomatoes, onions & cilantro) & cabbage wrapped all together in flour tortilla, sounds and tastes delicious…uhmm, yummers! Served with grilled potato and onions on the side. It is like burrito and shawarma, a feast for meat lovers out there, Churrasco.

Good food in a small package

chuchito, Guatemalan food
Chuchito

Chuchito is more of a daily meal compared to tamales which is more for special occasion. However, chuchito is made of maseca (corn flour), instead of real corn dough or “masa”. Chuchito is also stuffed with some chicken meat.

Guilty pleasure

Chicharrón, Guatemalan food
Chicharrón

Oh boy! Make sure your blood pressure is under control before having the crispy, crunchy chicharrón. That sinfully, greasy, deep-fried pork meat and skin…yes!. Guatemalans enjoy their chicharrón by wrapping it of course in corn tortilla and with yucca on the side.

Let’s have some gastronomical break. Come back and take the second part of our virtual Guatemalan food trip. Make sure to subscribe to our mailing list, follow us on Facebook, Twitter or join us on Google+ to get and read our latest scoop.

Hasta la próxima amigos!

Love,

Imelda

 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any photo(s) without express and written permission from The Mixed Culture is strictly prohibited. For any photo related interest, please contact us.

 

Semuc Champey: Where the river hides

Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey and the caves of Lanquín are among of the most visited attractions in Alta Verapaz, northern department of Guatemala. Amid the tropical forest are large karstic walls forming a natural bridge of limestone approximately 500m long. Under this bridge and Cahabón River flows over are breathtaking turquoise colored water pools formed above it. These natural swimming pools are located in a small canyon formed by sedimentary and limestone rocks. At one end of the formations, you can see how the Cahabón River enters a limestone cavern, then passing underneath is what now known as the pools of Semuc Champey, which in Q’eqchi ‘means “where the river hides.”

Semuc Champey
Semuc Champey, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala
Photo Credit: Santiago Billy Prem. http://santiagobilly.prosite.com/

It is in the Municipality of San Agustín Lanquín, about 2 hours drive from Coban (city capital of Alta Verapaz). In the surface are formed 7 emerald swimming pools from 1 to 3 meters deep, feeding by spring from the mountains. Thanks to its geographical location, Semuc Champey is surrounded by lush tropical rainforest, high biodiversity that is home to species of birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish.

Semuc Champey
Semuc Champey, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala
Photo Credit: Santiago Billy Prem. http://santiagobilly.prosite.com/

Its relative closeness and calm waters make it a great family destination as well as the accessible caves of Lanquín. There is a view deck from which visitors can appreciate the captivating and impressive scenic view of the natural pools and karst walls. By the characteristics of the warm subtropical very humid forest, there is a range of flora and arboreal canopy. No wonder, with the natural beauty of Semuc Champey, this important tourist destination was declared as a protected area by the Guatemalan government. It was declared as a Natural Monument in 2005 by Legislative Decree 25-2005. Semuc Champey, a paradise to discover.

Photo disclaimer: The Mixed Culture does not own the photo(s) used in this post, however, proper permission to use the photo(s) above was given to The Mixed Culture. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any photo(s) without express and written permission from the artist and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For any photo related interest, please contact the artist directly by visiting the webpage provided or leave us a message.

The tradition of “Burning the Devil” in Guatemala

Burning the devil

   Burning the Devil or La  Quema del Diablo is a tradition held every December 7, at 6:00 in the evening sharp, families build bonfires outside their homes and burn effigy of Satan. It is a tradition that many Guatemalans take part as a way to cleanse their home from devils that lurk in their home, creeping behind the furnitures or hiding under the bed.

La quema del diablo can be traced to colonial time, a tradition that started since the 18th century. Held on  the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and as a prelude to holiday season, those who could afford it adorned the fronts of their houses with lanterns, but for those who have lesser means began bonfires of their garbage to celebrate the occasion. A symbolical tradition that the fire which burns the devil serves as  purifying element, as the Virgin Mary was the blessed one to conceive baby Jesus must be free from any form of evil, therefore the event served as “burning the devil” to  clear the way for Mary’s feast.

Burning the devil
Guatemalan tradition of La Quema del Diablo, Antigua, Guatemala
Photo by : Santiago Billy Prem
http://santiagobilly.prosite.com/

Though the celebration may sound fun, it is controversial especially for the environmentalist groups. Back in the days, mostly paper were burned in the cleansing ritual, but now, the piles of rubbish are mostly made of plastic and rubber. The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources released a widely publicized statement in 2008 warning that one hour of bonfires containing rubber and plastic is equal to the carbon dioxide produced by a million and a half cars in circulation at the same time. Over time the tradition evolved, from burning piles of garbage and pieces of furniture were replaced by the effigy of Satan in a form of piñatas.

The tradition has special significance in Guatemala City because of its anticipation of Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the patron saint of the city. Along the street of Zona 1, the historic city center, many vendors piled the street selling stuffs associated with la quema del diablo, from firecrackers to simple and intricate devil piñatas. In different sectors of the city, people celebrates and burns their own devil piñatas. The idea is to burn all the bad from the previous year and to start anew from the ashes. Throughout the country, The Devil is burned at the stroke of six. In Antigua, the first former capital of the country, a devil three stories tall is constructed and burned in the city square. A controversial tradition yet very significant among Guatemalans, a hope of devil free nation, of a harmonious Guatemala. A hope that in the coming year it would be more than just a removed vision.

Photo disclaimer: The Mixed Culture does not own the photo(s) used in this post, however, proper permission to use the photo(s) above was given to The Mixed Culture. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any photo(s) without express and written permission from the artist and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For any photo related interest, please contact the artist directly, by visiting the webpage provided or leave us a message.

Black Christ of Esquipulas: Chiquimula, Guatemala

Esquipulas Basilica

         Guatemala’s eastern region, which includes the departments of Zacapa, Chiquimula, El Progreso, Santa Rosa, Jalapa and Jutiapa, has a wide variety of landscapes, ranging from tropical forests to the magnificent mountains that rise 9,800 feet above sea level.  In spite of the area’s many natural treasures the biggest tourism attraction is located in the municipality of Esquipulas, in the department of Chiquimula. The main church, which the Vatican upgraded to the category of Basilica in 1968, is the home of the “Cristo Negro de Esquipulas” or “Black Christ of Esquipulas,” in English. It is one of the most popular images of the Catholic faith, because of the many miracles attributed to it, peasants all over the country pray to the Black Christ.

Cristo Negro de Esquipulas, Esquipulas Chiquimula
Black Christ of Esquipulas
Esquipulas, Chiquimula, Guatemala

         The sculpture of the Black Christ dates back to 1595 and is made of cedar wood. It inspires one of the most important Catholic pilgrimages, topped only by the Virgin of Guadeloupe in Mexico. Quirio Cataño sculpted the dramatic art piece in  March 9, 1595. Nine years later, in 1603, it had already performed at least one miracle. In 1736, the Bishop of Guatemala XV and first metropolitan Archbishop Fray Pedro Pardo de Figueroa began the process of the construction of a grand Baroque temple to house the Santo Cristo de Esquipulas. On November 4, 1758, the church was inaugurated, that now shelters the venerated image . The Basilica Esquipulas is the second most important religious site in the Americas, after the Virgin of Guadeloupe in Mexico.

Cristo Negro de Esquipulas
Black Christ of Esquipulas
Esquipulas, Chiquimula, Guatemala.

            On January 15, an estimated one millions pilgrims from Central America and Mexico gather at the Basilica to honor the Black Christ of Esquipulas. The Basilica of Esquipulas is a wonderful work of Christianity in America, a colossal idea of missionary vision.  One of the many interesting Catholic traditions performed at the Basilica is the blessing of objects that followers wish to have protected by the Black Christ. It is common to see cars, trucks and animals with multi colored decorations, waiting in line to be blessed. Around the Basilica you’ll find stalls selling traditional sweets, souvenirs of the Black Christ and religious paraphernalias. The Black Christ of Esquipulas, a colossal site of religion and culture.

Cristo Negro de Esquipulas
Souvenir stalls around the Basilica

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any photo(s) without express and written permission from The Mixed Culture is strictly prohibited. For any photo related interest, please contact us.

The fortress of Mixco Viejo: Chimaltenango, Guatemala

Mayan Ruins, Mixco Viejo

       Mixco Viejo or Jilotepeque Viejo is an archaeological site located in the municipality of San Martín Jilotepeque, northwest of the department of Chimaltenango, 60km from the capital city. Built in the early twelfth century on a hill overlooking the confluence of the Pixcayá and Motagua rivers. The ruins was earlier confused and associated to Postclassic Poqomam capital city, when in fact it was the oldest city of the kingdom of Kaqchikel. Today, it regains its ancient ceremonial city name Chuwa Nimaabj, a victory to the indomitable desire of the Kaqchikel nation to give the identity of the nations of the Mayan people and the real history of the people of Guatemala.

Mixco Viejo, Chimaltenango
Ruins of Mixco Viejo
Photo credit: Camilo Sarti Fotografía
https://www.facebook.com/CamiloSartiFotografia

True to its name, Chuwa Nimaabj which means “in front of great stone” in Kaqchikel Mayan language, the site showcases ruins of a great stone fortress surrounded by canyons, with a single entry, which allowed its people of this city to have an advantage over their enemies. In this way, it was easier to protect the city, being able to detect enemy threats ahead as they approached. Also, the location of this Mayan city demonstrates an excellent example of the preferred location of the ancient inhabitants: in the upper part of a valley. It was one of the few that were inhabited and working at the time of the Spanish conquest. The site may originally have served to control the economics of the valley, for a short distance passing the Motagua River, which in ancient times was a trade route for goods to what is now the area of Zacapa and Chiquimula. Vegetation, climate and the nearby river, offer a fairly privileged natural setting. It is quite remarkable the presence of birds, which give a nice spot to enjoy birdwatching. This type of climate is often serves as a bird house for species of vivid and intense colors.

If you’ve visited other archaeological sites with ancient buildings, the first thing that jumps to your eyes is the difference on the style used. It differs from the typical and famous Tikal. The ruins are divided into 15 group, with at least 120 major structures, including temples, palaces, 2 ball courts for Mesoamerican ball game. Mixco Viejo or Jilotepeque Viejo is a fortress of culture and history.

Mayan Ruins, Mixco Viejo
Ruins of Mixco Viejo
Photo credit: Camilo Sarti Fotografía
https://www.facebook.com/CamiloSartiFotografia

Photo disclaimer: The Mixed Culture does not own the photo(s) used in this post, however, proper permission to use the photo(s) above was given to The Mixed Culture. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any photo(s) without express and written permission from the artist and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For any photo related interest, please contact the artist directly, by visiting the webpage provided or leave us a message.

The importance of corn in Guatemala

Guatemalan corn

      Corn plays an important role in Guatemalan culture. It is a big part of their diet, though they don’t usually eat it as “corn on the cob”, they eat them more than most people do. Corn is always integrated in every meal and served in many ways. Every meal time, hot tortillas are always served in the table to go with the main course or to dip it in their sauce. In every household, many mothers are busy making tortillas to serve their family. There are also “tortillerias” everywhere selling freshly made tortillas to complete every Guatemalan meal. Also, in Guatemala different varieties of corn tamales are widely consumed everyday and served during special occasions.

Guatemalan corn
Guatemalan corn
Photo credit: Camilo Sarti Fotografía
https://www.facebook.com/CamiloSartiFotografia

Taking corn to another level, Guatemalans also use corn flour not only to make tortillas but for bread and a hot drink called “atol de elote“. Not wasting any corn, bad corn will go to the animals, so this way animals are fed and saving them extra animal feed. Though many Guatemalans are Catholic, most of them also belongs to indigenous Mayan. According to Mayan mythology, God created man and woman from a seed of corn. Mentioning all these, Guatemalan corn tells culture, history and justifies its importance to its people.

Guatemalan corn
Guatemalan corn
Photo credit: Camilo Sarti Fotografía
https://www.facebook.com/CamiloSartiFotografia

Photo disclaimer: The Mixed Culture does not own the photo(s) used in this post, however, proper permission to use the photo(s) above was given to The Mixed Culture. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any photo(s) without express and written permission from the artist and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For any photo related interest, please contact the artist directly, by visiting the webpage provided or leave us a message.

Mr. Shoeshine: Los Lustradores in Guatemala

Lustrador, Antigua, Guatemala

        No doubt Guatemala is gifted with natural wonders, rich culture, amazing landscapes, but in the midst of that beauty is a sad fact that the country also suffers from great social problems. Despite of the lack opportunities in Guatemala, many still manage to bring home the daily bread through decent work.

Lustrador, Antigua, Guatemala
Lustrador, Antigua, Guatemala
Photo credit: Santiago Billy Prem of Documentary Adrenaline
http://santiagobilly.prosite.com/

In front of the church, around the park or in front of big buildings along the business sector not only in the city but in every department of the country, you will see “lustradores”. “Lustre, lustre!!!” as the lustradores shout to attract people to polish or clean boots.  The “lustradores” or shoeshiner will spot  your shoes first along the street before looking at you. With a happy vibe, these lustradores will make sure that your shoes are polished to perfection, leaving you nothing but satisfaction of a good shoeshine. So if you walk through that area, you know where to turn to give a good tint and shine of your shoes.

Shoeshine in Guatemala
Lustradores of Huehuetenango, Guatemala

Photo disclaimer: The Mixed Culture does not own the photo(s) used in this post, however, proper permission to use the photo(s) above was given to The Mixed Culture. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any photo(s) without express and written permission from the artist and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For any photo related interest, please contact the artist directly, by visiting the webpage provided or leave us a message.

The mystical Laguna de Chicabal: San Martín Sacatepéquez, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Laguna de Chicabal

      Chicabal Lagoon is one of the most important sacred sites in the Mayan world. The lagoon, is located in a volcano of the same name, and it is the main natural and cultural heritage of San Martín Sacatepéquez, also known as San Martín Chile Verde. San Martín Sacatepéquez belongs to the 24 municipalities in the department of Quetzaltenango, in the western highlands of Guatemala. The majority of the population of the municipality of San Martín Sacatepéquez are indigenous from the Maya Mam tribe.

Laguna de Chicabal/Mayan sacred site
Laguna de Chicabal
Photo Credit: Santiago Billy Prem of Documentary Adrenaline http://santiagobilly.prosite.com/

For the Mam tribe, they consider the volcano and the lagoon as sacred and miraculous, annually, 40 days after Easter, hundreds of people visit the lagoon to take part in rogation ceremony for rain. Maya priests perform traditional sacrificial ceremonies on the shore using candles, flowers and holy crosses. In this place, Mam tribe combines spirituality with the natural environment of the amazing mountain scenery, the beautiful lake and the mystical cloud forest.

Laguna de Chicabal
Laguna de Chicabal
Photo Credit: Camilo Sarti Fotografía
https://www.facebook.com/CamiloSartiFotografia

The Chicabal Volcano and Lagoon is at a height of 2,712 meters above sea level, with an area of 19.14 hectares and a depth of almost 33 meters, one of the highest elevations in Central America, and one of the last cloud forests in Guatemala. In Maya Mam language, Chicabal means “thunder”, adding to that, the sound produced inside the crater during storms is where the name of the place originated. It is an ideal destination for adventure lovers, nature enthusiasts and aficionados of Mayan culture. This mystical place is rich with unique flora and fauna ecosystem, Here, you can find Quetzals, pink headed warbler and horned guans; important species for birdwatchers. The shape of the Laguna and the fog that shrouds the volcano only serve to enhance the mysticism of the place.

Laguna de Chicabal
Laguna de Chicabal
Photo Credit: Camilo Sarti Fotografía
https://www.facebook.com/CamiloSartiFotografia

Because of its importance, the site was recognized as Prehispanic Monument in 1972 and as Sacred Place of the Maya People in 1997.  Since 1999, a local association ASAECO (Asociación de Agricultores Ecológicos de La Laguna de Chicabal) have been dedicated to the protection and conservation of natural and cultural elements of the place. Along the banks of the lagoon, there are different altars used by the Maya priests. For this reason, they do not allow tourist visits in early May, since the most important ceremonies are celebrated at that time. It is also prohibited to swim or bathe in the lagoon because of its spiritual value. Currently, ASAECO is dedicated in promoting responsible tourism that values​​, respects and enjoy priceless natural areas and cultural events that have an ancient origin and still have their place in the Volcano and Laguna de Chicabal.

Photo disclaimer: The Mixed Culture does not own the photo(s) used in this post, however, proper permission to use the photo(s) above was given to The Mixed Culture. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any photo(s) without express and written permission from the artist and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For any photo related interest, please contact the artist directly, by visiting the webpage provided or leave us a message.