Recommend April 2018 - 15

El Palo Volador spectacle.

CELEBRATIONS
GALORE!

FAST FACTS

LOCATION: Guatemala is the northernmost country in Central America, bordering Mexico,
Belize, Honduras and El Salvador.
CLIMATE: Guatemala enjoys a temperate 75°F year-round in the highlands; days will be sunny,
nights cool to cold. Temperatures can reach as high as 100°F in coastal and jungle regions. In the
mountains, temperatures can fall below freezing. The dry season in both the central highlands and
El Peten lasts from November to April.
LANGUAGE: Spanish is the official language, but ethnic groups speak in many Mayan languages;
English is widely spoken in most tourist destinations.
ENTRY DOCUMENTS: Passport required for U.S. and Canadian citizens. Passports must be valid
up to 6 months beyond departure date from the country. No visa required fo stays up to 90 days.
GETTING THERE: Most international flights land at La Aurora International Airport
(code: GUA), 20 minutes from Guatemala City center. A few international and regional airlines fly
into Flores Airport (code: FRS). Airlines flying from the U.S. to Guatemala City include American
Airlines, Avianca, Copa Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines, and Volaris.
FLIGHT TIMES FROM U.S. GATEWAYS:
Miami 2.20 hours
Los Angeles: 4.45 hours
Atlanta: 3:30 hours
Houston: 2:40 hours
New York: 5:30 hours
Dallas: 3 hours
Chicago: 4:30 hours
New Orleans: 2:30 hours
GETTING AROUND: There are two commercial daily flights between Guatemala City and
Flores (for Tikal), although most travelers get around the rest of the country by bus, shuttle bus and
car. In Guatemala City, buses and taxis make every area easily accessible. Organized motorcoach
sightseeing, car rental and guide services are available for popular destinations outside the capital.
ACCOMMODATIONS: There are lodgings in Guatemala for every budget and taste, from deluxe
to mid-market. Accommodations most popular with the U.S. market are international chain
properties and boutique hotels in the capital, colonial inns in the interior and eco-lodges in the
rainforest. As in most Latin American destinations, rates are highest Christmas through Easter.
COUNTRY TELEPHONE CODE: 502
TIME ZONE: Same as U.S. Central Standard Time (GMT-6). Daylight Savings Time is
not observed.
ELECTRIC CURRENT: 110 volts. Standard American plugs are used.
MONEY MATTERS: Guatemala's currency is the Quetzal in honor of the national bird. The U.S.
dollar is accepted almost everywhere, although it's best to carry dollars in small denominations.
ATMs are fairly common, and to be counted on in Guatemala City, Antigua, Quetzaltenango and
Flores; there's an ATM at the Guatemala City airport. Major credit cards are accepted, although
Visa and MasterCard are more easily accepted. Currency rate is US$1 = GUAQ7.30
DEPARTURE TAX: International: $30, although usually incorporated in air tickets;
domestic: $3 or Q20.
INFORMATION PLEASE: Guatemala Tourism Board (INGUAT); visitguatemala.com

Planning travel around a festival is the icing
on the cake of the quintessential visit to
Guatemala. And such planning is not hard
to do, for there are dozens of occasions to
celebrate a local saint or a major historic
event, observed with colorful pageantry.
Traditional ceremonies, such as the Pascual
Abaj shrine at Chichicastenango or the altars
on the shore of Laguna Chicabal outside
Quetzaltenango, combine Christian but mostly
Mayan beliefs, while traditional fiestas will
include marimba music, fireworks, folk dancing
and liberal consumption of alcohol. The
following is just a sampling:
Pilgrimage of the Black Christ, honored
with a procession, traditional dances and
bullfights, takes place in Esquipulas near the
Honduran border (Jan. 15).
Holy Week (Semana Santa) is a moveable
feast that falls the week before Easer. With
elaborate processions and streets covered
in carpets of flowers, mixed with sawdust,
the celebration in Antigua is the most
famous, but other ceremonies take place in
Chichicastenango, Santiago Atitlán and
Solola (March/April).
Fiesta Nacional Folklorico Rabín Ajaw,
held in Coban in the department of Alta
Verapaz and one of Mesoamerica's greatest
celebrations of Maya culture, features a steady
stream of street fairs, concerts, parades and
parties (late July for two weeks).
All Saints Day & All Souls Day,
celebrated all over the country, is a time in
which villages call at the cemetery to decorate
graves with flowers and food offerings. In
Santiago Sacatepequez, local people fly large
kites near the cemetery, while Todos Santos
Cuchumatan stages a colorful horse race, as
well as traditional dances (Nov. 1 & 2).
Festival of Santo Tomas, held in
Chichicastenango, includes El Palo Volador
spectacle, for which men climb a 100-ft. pole,
tie themselves to a rope attached to the top
and wrapped around their bodies, then jump,
spinning round and round to the ground-in
the form of birds descending downwards.
It's an indigenous ceremony of pre-Hispanic
origin, and according to one legend, was
created to ask the gods to end a severe
drought (Dec. 13-21). ◆
15


http://www.visitguatemala.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend April 2018

Recommend April 2018 - 1
Recommend April 2018 - 2
Recommend April 2018 - 3
Recommend April 2018 - 4
Recommend April 2018 - 5
Recommend April 2018 - 6
Recommend April 2018 - 7
Recommend April 2018 - 8
Recommend April 2018 - 9
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