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Go Guatemala – You Won’t be Disappointed

Guatemala has an appealing mix of landscapes and cultures, attracting visitors of all kinds. The northern lowlands are home to a lush tropical rainforest, where the most amazing Mayan archaeological sites are found, including the famous Tikal. The pine forested highlands are home to traditional Mayan communities that still cling to their indigenous roots.

As far as its major city goes, Guatemala City is the political heart and capital city of the country. However, it is not as attractive as Antigua Guatemala, which is the former capital of the country. Antigua Guatemala is one of the most popular places to visit, with its old colonial buildings being surrounded by awesome volcanoes that are perfect for hiking and climbing.

The Caribbean and Pacific coastlines offer a variety of marine exploration activities, including fishing, swimming and boating. Guatemala is also home to exquisite inland lakes, natural parks protecting unspoiled stretches of rainforest, waterfalls, and underground caves. Guatemala’s diverse terrain makes it one of the most incredible places to explore.

Piping Hot Chocolate

You might be surprised to learn this, but some of the best chocolate in the world comes from Guatemala, a fact that makes this Gringo love the country even more. Known for its production of chocolate is the city of Mixco. The chocolate made here is commonly used for as drinking chocolate, or hot chocolate, a tradition in Guatemala.

To make the chocolate, first the seeds are taken from the pod and set to dry in the sun on a piece of linen cloth or zinc laminate. Next they are placed in a clay oven where they are toasted until golden. After they cool they are ground up, traditionally with a mortar and passel.

From there are you do is prepare it how you like! The act of extracting chocolate from cocoa pods is a fundamental part of the culture in Mixco; believe me when I say it is a form of art! Make sure you try a cup of the good stuff while visiting Guatemala. And if you have the chance, go check out a local chocolate factory; there you can see the whole process, right down to the setting of the chocolate bars for the melting. Some tours even come complete with a complementary cup… yumm.

Dirt Bike Heaven

Explore Guatemala, extreme style. CA Tours, based out of Antigua, is a professional Motorcycle company that offers guided tours on dirt bikes through the Guatemalan interior. They feature a wide variety of tours; ones for intermediate bikers last just a few days, while more advanced riders can tackle the 8 day tours. For those with a limited amount of time and a specific agenda, custom tours can be designed.

 

The guys at CA Tours are a couple of English blokes who are genuinely interested in helping you have the best dirt bike excursion possible. They provide you with protective clothing, including a helmet, and bikes that are safe and of high quality. Off road and on, these guys know how to show you a good time. Look ‘em up at 6, Calle Oreiente #14, Central Antigua, or check ‘em out on the web at www.catours.co.uk. Make sure you tell ‘em the Gringo said hi.

The Most Dangerous of Parasites

When visiting any foreign you have to take precautions against parasites, and traveling to Guatemala is no different. However there are some parasites that no amount of medication can guard against; the human variety. They can be found at all the popular tourist attractions, speak English, as well as German, Italian and French, and are quite friendly. It is important to remember that no matter how harmless they seem their goal is to suck the money right out of your wallet.

 

These human parasites are easily identifiable; they wear an official looking laminated ID badge around their neck, and are always quick to ask if you need assistance or offer some helpful advice. Make sure you steer clear of these types of guides. The Gringo recommends you arrange any guided tours before hitting the streets in order to get a fair price.

Try Some Guatemalan Home Cookin’!

Nowadays you can get practically any type of dish while visiting Guatemala. There are all different kinds of restaurants serving everything from French baguettes to sushi! There are also a good number of fast food restaurants. While you may be drawn to the familiar, the Guatemala Gringo urges you to widen out and try a few traditional Guatemalan dishes.

One national specialty includes Kac lc, a soup that is made from turkey and seasoned with an herb from Alta Verapaz called samat. A more familiar, and yet typical Guatemalan dish is guacamole. Believe me; it tastes different from the guac you get at the Mexican restaurant around the corner. Flan is a typical dessert of Latin America, and Guatemala has spiced it up a bit; their specialty is flan de naranja, or orange-flavored flan.

As far as drinks go, Guatemalans love their coffee, but they don’t drink it like we gringos do. Normally cups are less than half the size of a standard small cup, and oftentimes the coffee is weaker than the Guatemalan brew you buy in the states; the best stuff gets exported. As far as adult beverages go quezalteca is king. This extremely potent raw cane spirit should be drank in small portions.

The Best Hotel on Lake Atitlan

Hotel Chi-yá sits overlooking the majestic Lake Atitlan in the highlands of Guatemala. The Hotel boasts 4 private bungalows and 5 rooms available for rent at the best rates you will find in San Juan La Laguna. Double occupancy in a bungalow is just US $12.00 per person per night, while 4 people lower the price to only US $9.00. Rooms run at the same rate.

Hotel Chi-yá has the most incredible of backyards, and encourages its guest to explore it. Free services provided by the hotel include swimming, rock diving, canoeing, table tennis and volleyball. You can also enjoy windsurfing, horseback riding, paragliding, kayaking, scuba diving, fishing, and more, all at a reasonable price.

Relaxing in the Jacuzzi adjacent the bungalow is the perfect way to end a rigorous day of hiking and swimming. Construction is high quality, modeled after typical Canadian cabins and the food is excellent and reasonably priced! For more information or to make reservations check out the Hotel Chi-yá website or call 502-5293-2417