Culture

This Ancient Town Is Proving To The World That We Need To Add Guatemala To Our Bucket List ASAP

With its stunning architecture and wild natural setting, this former colonial capital is among Central America’s must-visit destinations.

Nestled in the forested hills of southern Guatemala, the small city of Antigua was once the most prominent seat of Spanish colonial government between Mexico City and Lima, Peru. Founded in the early 16th century, it served as Guatemala’s capital for almost 300 years, until 1773, when it was abandoned by crown officials following a series of devastating volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and floods.

In the mid-1800s, agriculturists took note of Antigua’s rich volcanic soils, and the city thrived once again, as a center of coffee and grain production. It was during this period that its canary-colored Santa Catalina Arch, built in 1694 as a walkway for nuns, received its domed clock tower, becoming Antigua’s most iconic monument.

In 1979, Unesco designated Antigua a World Heritage Site, ensuring the protection of its architectural and cultural legacy.

Credit: @RootAdventures / Twitter

Now, the city’s cobbled streets – arranged in an easy-to-navigate grid, with views of the stunning Volcán de Agua to the south and the twin peaks of Volcán de Fuego and Acatenango to the west – are lined with farm-to-table restaurants, contemporary art galleries and design studios.

Beyond the city’s lush Parque Central, these new additions are taking root near 17th- and 18th- century buildings – such as Las Capuchinas, a former convent that is now a colonial-era art museum.

The Santa Catalina arch is one of the city’s most famous landmarks.

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Antigua is well known for its rich colonial history and cultural attractions, but none are so iconic as the Santa Catalina Arch. Standing above the cobbled streets and in front of the hulking Volcán de Agua, this saffron-yellow arch has become the symbol of Antigua and the central image on most postcards.

To critics, it might just be another arch, but to locals, it represents the resilience of the city and a history that spans four centuries.

The city’s amazing architecture is only beat out by the city’s dedication to beautiful handmade textiles.

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Made using natural dyeing techniques and sold at workshops and bustling open-air markets across the city, fabrics, and textiles are a must-buy souvenir.

The entire region surrounding Antigua is also a hub of coffee production.

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Guatemala is known around the world for its great coffees and at Finca La Azotea, which has been producing coffee since 1883, visitors can learn more about one of Antigua’s most valuable exports.

During a tour of the property, which is certified by the Rainforest Alliance, coffee enthusiasts can see how the raw fruit – which grows in dense, shaded rows of trees – is cultivated, harvested and processed. A portion of the plantation’s profits benefits local education programs focused on the preservation of the environment and Guatemalan culture.

And some of the world’s best chocolates come from Guatemala.

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For chocolate lovers, Guatemala is a sweet place to be.

This is especially true in Antigua, where chocoholics can try chocolate bars, amazing truffles and liquor-filled bonbons. The city is full of artisanal sweet shops.

And as if this weren’t enough to tempt a sweet tooth, Antigua boasts its own chocolate museum. In addition to producing edible cacao products, the ChocoMuseo educates the public about the entire chocolate-making process through interactive workshops, beautifully crafted exhibits and entertaining tours.

The city is surrounded by jaw-droppingly beautiful volcanoes.

Credit: tripstipsguatemala / Instagram

As Antigua is known for its volcanic activity, it would be a mistake not to climb one. Pacaya is the easiest, and you’ll still get the excitement of seeing lava spew from the volcano’s mouth, as well as getting the opportunity to buy lava jewelry from the isolated gift shop near the summit.

And if you want to explore a bit more, Antigua isn’t too far from Lake Atitlan.

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A side trip to the magical, mysterious Lake Atitlán may seem like a long way, but the enchanting beauty of the water, which sits in a volcanic crater, is well worth it. It’s about 2½ hours by shuttle bus or you can catch the local “chicken bus” from the bus station at Calle Principal.

There are more than a dozen Mayan villages to stay in, but your best bet is Panajachel, a bohemian haven. It’s big enough to provide everything a visitor needs, but not so big that you can’t experience local culture.

With its towering volcanoes (accessible by challenging day hikes), booming coffee scene and bevy of boutique hotels, Antigua is quickly garnering appeal as one of the most enticing cities in Central America.

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Apple Named The Top App Of 2020 And It Was Developed By Two Guatemalans

Things That Matter

Apple Named The Top App Of 2020 And It Was Developed By Two Guatemalans

The winner of this year’s iPhone App of the Year by Apple went to Wakeout. The app is a workout app created by two Guatemalan developers and has grown in popularity since it was first released.

Pedro Wunderlich and Andrés Canella are the minds behind Apple’s top app of 2020.

Every year, Apple picks an app to be celebrated as the best app of the year. This year, Wakeout, the brainchild of two men in Guatemala, took home the coveted prize. It is a fun app, especially in the time of Covid and self-isolation.

The app is designed to motivate people to wake up and move to start their day on an active note. This lowers the user’s stress level throughout the day giving them a more successful day.

Apple focused on the apps that helped the world connect and stay healthy this year.

This years was a wild ride for everyone around the world. We had to find new ways to stay active, stay connected, and stay happy while the world stood still. Wakeout was the top app to make sure that people stayed active and motivated during these days.

The two men behind the app were clearly very excited to be the best of the year. The two of them sent tweets back and forth congratulating each other in surprise over the honor.

Tbh, seeing the two shower each other with love and praise is so sweet to see.

It is nice to see the two celebrate each other and give each other so much recognition. It was a team effort and these two are unapologetically showing the world what it looks like to be true team players.

Wakeout has become a valuable part of thousands of people’s mornings. The app gets people moving in ways that can be done anywhere. It is so important to have tools like this when your world is on pause. Being physically active is important for so many reasons.

We can’t wait to see what the duo comes up with next.

Clearly, if they are able to make something so successful during this wild imagine what they can do in normal times.

READ: Many Native Languages Are Dying Off But Here’s How Indigenous Millennials Are Using Tech To Save Them

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Here Are Some Christmas Traditions From Around Latin America

Culture

Here Are Some Christmas Traditions From Around Latin America

Christmas is a special time of year. Families have their traditions to mark the festive year and some of those traditions are rooted in culture. Here are some of the ways various countries in Latin America celebrate Christmas.

El Pase Del Niño Viajero – Ecuador

El Pase del Niño Viajero is a pageant that happens in Ecuador that lasts weeks. The parade is meant to represent the journey of Mary and Joseph. The parade highlights the religious importance of Christmas in Ecuador and is most common in the Andean region of the country.

The biggest and most important parade is in Cuenca, a deeply religious city. Citizens near the city have all day to see the parade as it starts in the early morning and runs through the late afternoon. This gives people a lot of time to make it to the city to witness the parade.

La Gritería – Nicaragua

La Gritería comes after La Purisma. La Purisma is celebrated at the end of November and is meant to celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. La Gritería is celebrated in early December and involves literal yelling. Someone would shout “Que causa tanta alegria?” (“What causes so much happiness?”) People respond “La Concepción de María.” (“Mary’s Conception.”)

Las Posadas – Mexico

Mexican posadas are the most recognizable. Posadas take place in Mexico from Dec. 16-24, though this year they are most likely to be virtual. The posada begins with a procession in the neighborhood filled with people singing and sometimes led by two people dressed as Mary and Joseph.

Another part is the posada party. Before guests can enter, there is a song exchange with the people outside playing Joseph looking for shelter. The hosts sing the side of the innkeeper saying there is no room. Eventually, the guests are welcomed into the home to celebrate Christmas.

Aguinaldos – Colombia

Aguinaldos are a series of games played by people in Colombia leading up to Christmas. There are certain games that are common among people in Colombia. One is pajita en boca, which requires holding a straw in your mouth the entire time of a social event. Another is dar y no recibir, which is about getting people to take something you are giving to score a point.

El Quema Del Diablo – Guatemala

El quema del diablo is celebrated in early December and is a way of letting go of the previous year. People burn piñatas and effigies of the devil to let go of all negative feelings and moments from the previous year. If there was every to try a new tradition, this would be the year. Burn an effigy and banish 2020 to the past, where it belongs.

READ: These Seriously Sad Christmas Presents Were Worse Than Actual Coal

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