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Guatemala City / Guatemala

Guatemala - where nature and the Maya civilization live on

Yuichi Kinoshita / Codaca Guatemala, S.A.

Located south of Mexico, Guatemala has a population of about 14 million. Although the official language is Spanish, twenty-two Mayan languages are used in Guatemala, centered on the mountainous western region, where the brightly colored native clothing known as huipil is worn.

I would like to tell you a bit about the appeal of Guatemala in this article.

Food culture
Guatemala is known for its coffee, with its pleasantly acidic flavor (they add generous amounts of sugar to their coffee here) but the staple foods are frijoles—cream and boiled beans are mixed into a paste—and tortillas, which are made with a corn flour mixture which is spread flat and thin and then fried. These staples are eaten at all three meals here, and while they are delicious when eaten occasionally, I grew tired of eating them so often.

For those who like to drink, I recommend a beer called Gallo (Spanish for rooster), which has won the prestigious French Monde Selection Award, and which is the pride of Guatemala. The taste is agreeable to Japanese, and the price is right, at about three dollars even in a restaurant. I also recommend the rum called Ron Zacapa Centenario, which has a mellow taste similar to brandy or cognac.

The quintessential tourist attractions in Guatemala are its Mayan ruins. The Mayan civilization is an ancient civilization which thrived some 2,500 years ago, and Guatemala boasts such an abundance of Mayan ruins that Guatemalans have dubbed it the Heart of the Mayan Civilization (Corazon del Mundo Maya). Located in the lush jungle in the northern state of Peten, the ruins of numerous Mayan pyramids at Tikal (a World Heritage site) are captivating.

Antigua is another popular tourist attraction which is located some 40 km from Guatemala City. Surrounded by mountains, the city was the site of the Central American Government Headquarters during the period of Spanish colonial rule, and as the beautiful colonial look of the town remains, it is also a World Heritage Site.

There are nearly forty Spanish language schools in Antigua, and it is a safe city, which attracts language students from the US and Europe, and there are also many restaurants serving delicious food here. I myself often go for walks and find that just walking around the city makes me feel refreshed. Unfortunately, you can't go for walks around the capital, on account of the problems they have with crime there, but when you just get away from the capital a bit you will find that Guatemala is country filled with the great appeal of ancient culture and nature.

Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.62 (March, 2011)

  • The standard fare at Guatemalan meals: frijoles
  • Gallo beer - winner of the Monde Selection Award
  • The Tikal Ruins World Heritage Site located in the northern Guatemalan state of Peten
  • The beautiful look of Antigua, a popular tourist attraction

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