Guatemala Local Customs

  • Market in Santiago Atitlàn
    Market in Santiago Atitlàn
    by toonsarah
  • In San Antonio Popolo
    In San Antonio Popolo
    by toonsarah
  • Selling fresh herbs
    Selling fresh herbs
    by toonsarah

Guatemala Local Customs

  • Where Most People Can't Read....

    Public education in Guatemala is severely hobbled by incompetence and patronage. School supplies sit in warehouses and schools (when not closed for innumerable holidays) close after half a day. Literacy is a luxury for "Guatemaltecos". Bookstores are unheard of. Other than newspapers and a few magazines there is little to read besides pulp fiction...


    The relationship between mental development in children and iodine has been known for many decades. Most nations of the world require that salt be iodized- but not Guatemala.Although the cost of iodizing salt is negligible, Guatemala does not iodize its salt.Nor does Guatemala import iodized salt.The reason? To protect the producers of domestically...

  • Studies on Guatemala - CIA world fact...

    Life expectancy at birth: (Lower than industrial countries – BUT I have learned from experience not to totally trust this number – in many countries the people in the poorer areas are not counted so are not reflected in the number – I do not believe this number is this high) total population: 69.38 years male: 67.65 years female: 71.18 years (2006...

  • Studies on Guatemala - Human Development...

    UNITED NATIONS HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX (HDI) is another index that really tells how a country is doing. The HDI measures a countries progress in human development in an attempt to show how they rate to different countries. The categories are (1) living a long and healthy life (measured by life expectancy), (2) being educated (measured by adult...

  • Information on Guatemala from the World...

    It has been ten years since the Peace Accords that ended a debilitating 36-year civil war were signed. The World Bank (to my surpise) defines Guatemala as a middle income country. Take a look at the indicators below to form your own opinion...In 2000 - - 56% of all Guatemalans (and 76 percent of indigenous groups) lived in poverty- 16% of...

  • Information on Guatemala from the World...

    In 2000 - - 56% of all Guatemalans (and 76 percent of indigenous groups) lived in poverty- 16% of Guatemalans lived in extreme poverty (defined as poverty that kills - at this level people lack the basics for life - food, clothes and shelter - the UN often defines this group as living on less than $1 to $2 US a day)Poverty and therefore the poverty...

  • Traditional costume

    One thing that is bound to strike you in Guatemala is the high number of people, especially women, wearing their traditional costume as an everyday matter of course. In areas with a high proportion of native Mayan residents, such as around Lake Atitlàn you may find it hard to spot anything else other than on tourists. We were told that the reason...

  • Chicken buses

    I’ve said already that Guatemala is a colourful country, and it is not only the people’s costumes that make it so. Just look what they do with the old school buses that they import from the US! These form the mainstay of public transport in the country, and are known colloquially as “chicken buses”. I’ve heard two theories behind the name. One is...

  • Market day

    As it is almost everywhere, market day is when each town or village really comes alive, and it’s a perfect opportunity to observe local customs, check out local food stuffs and take some great photos. Some towns are rightly famous for their colourful markets, most notably Chichicastenango, which has become a major tourist draw for that reason. We...

  • Public laundry

    Every town or village in Guatemala has its public laundry – a communal space in the centre of town with stone basins, running water and usually a roof for shade. In the past these would have been essential as houses didn’t have their own water supply and streams can be arid and waterless in the dry season. Even nowadays remote villages will still...

  • Carrying the baby

    The colourful cloths and wraps of Guatemala are used for all sorts of purposes. They form skirts and belts, are wrapped around bulky packages to make them easier to carry, and decorate shop fronts to entice tourists. But perhaps their nicest use is in these improvised baby slings. The position can be adjusted to suit (front or back, high or a...

  • Chicken Buses

    Chicken buses are old U.S. school buses that are privately owned. A family will usually own several. When a bus arrives, it gets modified in a special shop—it is painted in 5-10 bright colors, more seats are added, hand straps go along the center aisle, and it gets roof racks and a rear ladder. They also put in a more powerful engine. When the bus...

  • Mother's Day

    In Guatemala, Mother’s Day is always on May 10, regardless of the day of the week, and it is a really big deal. We stopped at the cemetery in Sololá the day before, and saw people decorating graves for Mother’s Day. We were in Panajachel on Mother's Day, and it started very early! We were all awakened at 3:30 a.m. by loud booms, followed by car...

  • visit local fiesta

    local fiesta .mostly religious one you easily find throughout the country..mostly very colourful and in happy mood

  • Maximón, the Smoking God

    Mayan villagers in the Guatemalan highlands, especially on the shores of Lago de Atitlán, have their own unique religion, mixing elements of shamanism and Christianity. They worship a god called Maximón. It is believed that he is a combination of the ancient Mayan god Rilaj Maam and the biblical figure Judas. Although there are other theories that...

  • Understanding Guatemala through books...

    Normally I highlight the books I've read about a country- but most of the reading I've done to date has been economic research which I'll summarize in order to provide an overview of Guatemala. I'll read some books on Guatemala when I come back and add list my favorites.Amazing documentary by HBO - Recycled Life - story of life in the main...

  • Careful how you gesture "come here"

    During my stay in Guatemala, I learned rather quickly that there are distinctly different ways to gesture to someone. As far as I know, in Chicago, USA if you want to gesture "come here" you can do it a number of different ways and no further meaning is attached to it. You can just wave your wrist, your entire arm, or just a single finger for...

  • When Taking Pictures

    Always ask first, especially with indigenous people. There are a variety of local customs there regarding the taking of pictures, and they do not look kindly upon people who snap photos of them without asking. This is especially true with women and children. Be courteous, ask first and respect their answers. No means no. Just smile and say thank...

  • Misc info on Guatemala - more resources

    World Bank Poverty Assessment - the Guatemala Poverty Assessment Program, or “GUAPA” program & PlacesVigilantes Fight Gang Violence in Guatemala by Lorenda Reddekopp Day to Day, December 28, 2005 • Gang violence has prompted...

  • Another book on Guatemala

    I, Rigoberta Menchu, an Indian Women in Guatemala Is one of the more famous books on Guatemala and is often seen in the list of top reads of Guatemala especially since Rigobert won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. It is the story of Mayan activist Rigobert Menchu and takes place during the years of the Guatemalan civil war. I thought it was a pretty...

  • Listen to information on Guatemala offers great audio information on countries, including Guatemala - here are just a few... Guatemala's Parks Lie in Path of Drug Traffickers by John Burnett Excellent program from September 24, 2006 · World: Guatemala Police Archive Yields Clues to 'Dirty War'...

  • Books on Guatemala

    I've only read a few books on Guatemala so far - here is the best book I have read so farTree Girl - by Ben Mikaelsen -This is a true story of a 15 year old girl and her fight for survival during Guatemala's bloody civil war. This Anne Frank type story was written for 6 to 12th graders and told from a child eyes, giving it a purity and simplicity...

  • Panajachel, baptism in the lake

    In the morning we went to the lakeside for the boat tickets, we saw a lot of people close to the landing stages. At a closer look we saw what was going on. Some people got baptised in the lake going under water for a while.From a small distance at the lake side people were watching the ceremony and were praying.

  • Chichicastenango, procession

    We were lucky to visit the sunday market in Chichicastenango at a very special day, the first of november. All the streets adn alleyways looked filled with peopel from all the surrounding villages carrying colourful images of their saints. Many of them were ornamented with colourful ostrich feathers.There were also lots of musicians in the...

  • current issues in human rights

    CURRENT ISSUESThe civil wars ended with the signature of the peace accords in 1999 but the country has yet to settle into a peaceful co-existence.Amnesty International (AI) believes that little progress has been made in Human Rights since the Peace Accords were signed (Amnesty International, 2006a). Recent reports show that indigenous farmers are...

  • Human Rights - crimes against women and...

    Many NGOs give Guatemala low ranking when it comes to human rights and equality - especially against the indigenous population, women, rural populations, and those of lower and socioeconomic status (United Nations, 2006). HISTORY OF DISCRIMINATIONUnited Nations Human Development Reports note the links between ethnic diversity/racism and inequality,...

  • TI Corruption Perception Index

    TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL CORRUPTION PERCEPTION INDEX - Is another ranking that gives an idea of how countries compare – this index ranks the perception others have of a countries corruption Guatemala is 2.6 out of a possible score of 10 Ranking 111 out of 163 of the countries rankedThis shows the world thinks Guatemala is highly corrupted. For...

  • Info on Guatemala - CIA world fact book

    Studying the developing world is a passion of mine (I am working on my doctorates in this area) and I think its important to look at some indicators to really understand a country. Here are some stats that provide some good information on Guatemala and how the country and its people are doing as a whole The following info is from the CIA world fact...

  • Understanding Guatemala

    I have provided information on the human rights issues in Guatemala in other tips. The following is a list of references of the websites of internationally recognized human rights organizations. These websites are great resources for information on all the of the world's countries - especially to those of you who, like me, have a special interest...

  • Scourge of Alcohol

    The government of Guatemala is deeply involved in the production and sale of hard liquor. Anyone who travels through Guatemala- particularly in the highlands- will see the devastating effects of alcohol. Although used by the Indians for ritual purposes and festivals- it is a familiar and distressing sight to see semi- or unconscious men exposed to...

  • Trajes Tipicos de Guatemala

    There are many local "trajes tipicos". Here we have models showing off the various mayan handmade trajes tipicos.

  • Feel free to bargain

    We chose to go to a local market day in Solola rather than the more touristy one on Chichicastenango. Both are just a short drive from Lake Atitlan.What an incredible sight! We had heard how the different mayan villages had different patterns and colors on their clothes and we were able to really see this in Solola.Downside was that we were the...

  • Barter when buying

    Common sense may tell you to keep a watchful eye on your money while exploring an underpriviliged nation. In the market you will encounter pushy peddlars, and it is part of the Mayan system to bargain with their prices. It is suggested to start bargaining at half the price which they first give you. Examples: she says her beaded belt is 60...

  • Spanish language

    In addition to Spanish, there are several Mayan languages spoken, but Spanish is by far the most common language of Guatemala. Guatemala is an excellent place to study Spanish, as there are a plentitude of language schools in Antigua and Xela. To say hello in Spanish, say "hola" (pronounced like o-la)To say please, say "por favor" (por fa-bor>To...

  • See the intriguing doors in Antigua!

    We noticed these unusual doors, with little windows and caging around them in the city. Then we saw them making new ones in the finishing mill we visited. Very interesting.

  • Sculpting Shrubs

    All over Guatemala, you will see shrubbery cut into strange whimsical designs. It occurs throughout the country. Who sponsors it, who encourages it, where the impulse to do it comes from I have no idea. My guess is that the Mayan Indians of Guatemala picked it up from the Europeans and made it their own. This example was found in Solola- the...

  • Handicrafts

    By the footsteps of the volcanoes on the other side of lake, local people are selling traditional handicrafts. The village is very authentic, surviving on the tourism that buy the handicrafts. The crafts range from Traditional cotton bracelets (they believe it brings good luck), Crapets, Traditional clothes, jars etc...

  • Check out the lovely fabrics & outfits

    This isn't exactly a cultural guidance tip, but if you're into fabric at all, you'll want to have a look at the lovely fabrics (mostly woven) incorporated into the traditional outfits. On our first evening in Guatemala City in February 2003, we were treated to a bit of a fashion show.

  • Spirits of the ancient Mayan...

    Spirits of the ancient Mayan civilisation wander the the vast uncharted rainforests of Guatamala. Even today, they discover lost cities. Interested?

  • Tipping in restaurants is 10%,...

    Tipping in restaurants is 10%, often added into the bill. You have to ask for the 'cuenta' at the end of your meal. Either call for a yellow cab 332-1515 (they're metered) or bargain for the price before you get in a taxi. You should be able to go almost any place in Guatemala City for Q30 or less.

  • OMYG, I just recalled the...

    OMYG, I just recalled the singing alleluyos from Guatemala today... funny what you remember, crave for, after a year of your visit to Guate no? Anyways, the aleluyos are the singing churches that populate all the highlands. They have a high-pitch sounding microfone where locals sing along their favorite religious tunes. I found thise anoying back...

  • Preserve the local custums

    From my travels in Latin America, I've come to conclude that Guatemala has one of the most preserved native american cultures in the continent. The locals in the highlands all done their own unique clothes (even the men!). It's just an amazing country!

  • Be courteous and RESPECTFUL to...

    Be courteous and RESPECTFUL to the people you encounter in Guatemala. These people don't have much in material goods, so what they have in non-material wealth is taken very seriously. Do your best to speak Spanish.

  • Buy something from the sellers...

    Buy something from the sellers that come on the bus - it's nothing for you (probably) and a lot for them!You know what I'm talking about!

  • Hire a guide !!! Guides are...

    Hire a guide !!! Guides are located at the visitor center and cost just a few dollars. Get a group together or join a group, but you need to hire a guide. Why would you spend the money to travel all this way and than not spend a few dollars extra to have someone show you around and explain it all to you. It doesn't make any sense.


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Guatemala Local Customs

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