Our first day was full of activities. We started spending time at the local handicraft market. had a sumptuous lunch at El Adobe, a unique restaurant contrasted by the busy area of mercado central. The food was excellent and the service was top notch.
The National Palace was worth the visit. Also known as Palacio Nacional de la Cultura also known colloquially as “Palacio Verde”, it is identified as Guatemala City’s symbol in its architectural context. It was the most important building in Guatemala and was the headquarters of the President of Guatemala. The building is the origin of all the roads in the Republic and has a spot known as Kilometro Cero. It is presently a museum and is also used for important acts of the government.
Visited the Cathedral of Guatemala City which was founded on July 27, 1524 and is located in Central Park. At that time, the city was called Santiago de los Caballeros and the country’s capital was Antigua Guatemala. But after several earthquakes, the decision was made to move the capital and religious center to the city of Guatemala.
Back to the hotel and had two hours of rest. The night ended with an impressive dinner arrangement by the Guatemala Tourist Board. Need to say nothing more. It was a great way to welcome us.
From the airport, we headed to our next destination and because of the recent landslide in Antiqua, traffic was very bad. We missed the pottery tour.
LAKE ATITLAN is located in the Sololá Department of southwestern Guatemala, in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range directly west of Guatemala City. When you search for Lake Atitlán on Google you will find tons of references to Panajachel. Panajachel is a town on the northern shore of Lake Atitlán, and is the main hub for tourists and visitors entering the area. It is the center of the tourist trade, and serves as a base for visitors crossing the lake to the other small villages and towns.
SAN ANTONIO PALOPO is a municipality in the Sololá Department of Guatemala. The village is on the eastern shore of Lake Atitlán. The lowest elevation is 1,562 meters (5,125 ft) at the shoreline. The people of the region are Cakchiquel Maya with a distinctive style of clothing. The patron saint of the village is St. Anthony of Padua.
SANTA CATARINA PALOPO is a small and endearing village on the northeastern shores of Lake Atitlán where the indigenous Kaqchikel Maya proudly call home. In recent years, the town has undergone an alluring aesthetic transformation to help eradicate poverty and spur economic growth.
We also visited the pride of Santa Catarina Palopo, the CASA PALOPO, perched above spectacular Lake Atitlan with a view of three volcanoes and located in the Guatemalan Highlands, this luxury boutique hotel offers two distinct brands of romantic relaxation for the sophisticated traveler. Our accommodation for the night is at the POSADA DE DON RODRIGO PANAJACHEL, a POSADA hotel that needs major renovation.
St John the Baptist feast was celebrated on the 23June.
Business to Business meetings with eighteen (18) local tour operators plus one (1) hotel started at 10am. It was great establishing contact with them as they would be our partners in promoting Guatemala to the American Market.
Lunch was sumptuous and enjoyed everything I ordered.
After lunch, we headed to the LA CASA DEL RON for the rum tasting tour. La Casa del Ron or House of Rum, is a new boutique lounge and bar that recently opened its doors in Antigua Guatemala. This is the rum cellar directly underneath the bar and boutique. This is a great place to taste the delicious rums produced in Guatemala; especially the aged rums in oak barrels such as Zacapa Centenario and Botrán Añejo.
Inspected two 5star hotels in Antiqua before heading back to our hotel for some rest. We had dinner at Casa Santo Domingo’s El Refectorio.
We took a 30minute flight from Guatemala City to Flores, an island located in Peten, one hour south of Tikal. It is surrounded by the third biggest lake in Guatemala, Lake Peten Itza. The picturesque town of Flores offers you the chance to enjoy stunning landscapes, cultural activities, plus, it is the gateway to most of the archaeological Mayan parks around the area.
First stop was having breakfast at the luxurious LAS LAGUNAS BOUTIQUE HOTEL, located in the Heart of the Maya World, minutes away from the magnificent Tikal, Uaxactún and Yaxhá ruins. You can experience the richness of the jungle at its best. Inspired by a Guatemalan visionary businessman who explored for 30 years the undomesticated rainforest of Peten, the property combines 300 acres of land, the comfort of a Boutique Hotel with its Private Reserve, two Monkey Islands, a complete Spa and an incredible museum!
Then off to TIKAL NATIONAL PARK… the park encompasses 575 square kilometres of jungle and thousands of ruined structures. The central part of the ancient city alone contains 3,000 buildings and covers about 16 square kilometers. Tikal is also part of the one-million-hectare Maya Biosphere Reserve created in 1990 to protect the dense forests of the Peten, which started to disappear at an alarming rate due to population pressures, illegal logging and slash-and-burn agricultural practices.
Lunch at the EL MESON.
Next is a visit to the YAXHA NATIONAL PARK, NAKUM, NARANJO, located in the northeast sector of the Department of Petén, in the jurisdiction of the municipalities of Flores and Melchor de Mencos. We enjoyed an unparalleled experience visiting four monumental Mayan cities over 1,000 years old that marked the Mayan geopolitical history of the region. Strategically located on the shores of impressive lagoons and rivers, the cities of Yaxha, Nakum, Naranjo, and Topoxte controlled river trade between the eastern lowlands and Belize during the Classic (250-900 AD) and Postclassic (900-1697 AD) periods. . Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo National Park contains 288 other archaeological sites, six of intermediate size and 282 minor sites.
The Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo National Park is an area of exceptional natural beauty that allows you to enjoy the exuberant tropical jungle, home to a great diversity of plants and animals, as well as unparalleled landscapes where its lagoons, seasonal rivers, and waterways stand out. and pools.
Here, I did not hesitate to climb to the top of the pyramid where the view was breathtaking. Dinner was at LA DANTA where the various local dishes were explained to us.
A short boat ride took us to visit SAN JUAN LA LAGUNA, located on a rise above a spectacular bay. This neat, mellow village has escaped many of the excesses of its neighbor, and some travelers find it a more tranquil setting in which to study Spanish or experience local life. San Juan is special. The Tz’utujil inhabitants take pride in their craft traditions – particularly painting and weaving – and have developed their own tourism infrastructure to highlight their culture to outsiders. Perhaps part of what makes it all run so well is the communal spirit: coffee growers, fishers, organic farmers, natural dyers and widows are among the like-minded groups who’ve formed cooperatives here. As you wander around the village, you’ll notice various murals depicting aspects of Tz’utujil life and legend.
After a short walk from the docking area, we had tok-tok rides that took the group to the MIRADOR KAQASIIWAAN lookout. I opted not to climb.. too stiff for me
Next was a visit to the CASA FLOR IXCACO WEAVING COOPERATIVE, The backstrap weaving loom, small and mobile, can be used anywhere. It can take one month to weave a two yard scarf from start to finish. Backstrap weaving is integral to Mayan life. The position of the loom gives the illusion that the weave is coming from the abdomen of the weaver – emphasizing the woman as a creator and goddess of fertility. The practice of backstop weaving also has maternal benefits because of the position of the strap on the lower back.
In the 1980’s the civil strife in Guatemala resulted in the loss of over 400 weaving styles. In the 1990s, the women of San Juan decided to form Casa Flor Ixcaco so that woman of all ages could keep the culture and craft alive, as well provide livelihood opportunities for the widowed, poor, and young.
Today, there are 23 women weavers that are working with Casa Flor Ixcaco. The Woven/Casa Flor Ixcaco project is about art, technology, and the global market. Traditional and elegant Mayan art is isolated from the city, however, connecting the work of the cooperative to the international community allows for an unprecedented market bridge – and a hope of sustainability. As consumers, we have the power to choose to wear artisan crafts that support present day livelihood development, environmental sustainability, and a rare and surviving Mayan culture of women in the arts.
Next stop, we will visit a medicinal garden that is run by a local women’s cooperative. We had the opportunity to tour the gardens, learn about the herbs and their uses, as well learn about their belief in caring for the land with love, and without harming it by using pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. The use of medicinal plants is an important part of wellbeing and health in Guatemala
This is when I asked one of the ladies if they had a medicine for a toe that hurting me. She told me to wait and before I knew it, she asked me to go to a room where an old lady was waiting for me.
In the Philippines, “Hilot” is a Filipino word used to describe a healer . About Hilot Massage as a Healing Therapy Originating in the Philippines, Hilot is a hands-on healing art that involves intuition and massage. A Hilot therapist, called manghihilot or albularyo, is trained in massage and body-mind connections. Again, Hilot uses manipulation and massage to achieve the treatment outcome, although techniques differ from one practitioner to another.
I never thought that in this tour, I would find someone that would heal my broken toe. The process only took around 15minutes and I leave the rest to your imagination … she surely healed me. Whoever included this tour in our itinerary, I THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
After lunch at UXLABIL, we headed to our hotel for the night, the POSADA DE DON RODRIGO ANTIGUA, another POSADA hotel that needs major renovation. Posada Hotels used to be some of the best hotels in Latin America.