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Servicios Turisticos Centro America S.A.


Chuitinamit The first city of the Tzutijiles By Diego Tzaj


hen we say Santiago Atitlan, we think in the coin of twenty five cents of quetzal, because this is the town where Mrs. Concepcion Ramirez Mendoza, whose head and face appears on the coins wearing her Tocoyal was born. El Tocoyal is a red tape, which is part of the daily clothing of the women from Santiago, it has three meanings: one of them is based on the connection between the heaven and earth and its colonial church, the oldest one of Lake Atitlan.What is mentioned before are some of the reasons to distinguish Santiago Atitlan from another towns located around the lake and how its culture is. During the Spanish led by Pedro de Alvarado and his army of allies (Kakchiquels and Mexican Indigenous) The Tzutuhiles were

exploited, forcing them to perform forced labor, they them at their own service; the Tzutuhiles moved all the stones that were on this hill towards the new city that was been founded, the new city is known today as Santiago Atitlan. The result of this hard-forced labor work is the construction of the Catholic Church whose patron is Santiago Apostol. Nowadays at the top of the hill there is hotel that receives people who want to relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of this place. There is also a 30 minutes’ walk that takes us to enjoy a wonderful view of the Lake Atitlan. I should also mention that this place with so great and important history is immersed in the total abandonment.



Unknown San Carlos Sija


Surrounded by mountains and farms, by Patricia Escobar


an Carlos Sija is a small village located in the north of Quetzaltenango. Officially established as a Municipio on September 15th, 1778. The income for San Carlos’ Sija people comes from agriculture and livestock activities, artisanal products such as the famous cheese made in most of the houses and then it is sold by other in different cities such as Quetzaltenango and Totonicapán. Their second income comes from their relatives, who have been living for years in United States as immigrants. This village is surrounded by mountains and farmslands, especially two of them: Cerro Cologites Its a flatland reserve with 340 hectares of extension, you can enjoy it for camping or doing biking activities. Moreover, from the top you will have a beautiful view to the high-

lands and the volcanic chain. There is only one family living in this area that offers you to spend the night in their house, so you will have the opportunity to learn how to make the artisanal cheese and get milk from the cows. Cerro Mano de León or Cerro Sija El Cerro (that means hill) Mano de Leon or Cerro Sija is an ecological park located pretty close to downtown, it has a pine forest and evergreen oak very common in this area, and it is a shelter for different kinds of birds and mammals as well as sorted of wild flowers: Ferns, mosses and fungus. In the park you can take 1 ½ walking through the park, while you enjoy the beautiful views to the highlands and its Volcanoes Santa Maria, Tajumulco and Tacaná. Definitely, San Carlos Sija is an Unknown paradise!


16th and 17th CENTURY Churches and much more in eastern Guatemala


ittle is known about these peculiar churches in El Progreso and Chiquimula, two of Guatemala’s 22 provinces. Guatemala is said to be poor, but is it, with its rich cultural heritage ? When Spain invaded the New World in the early 16th century, they didn’t waste much compassion on its native population. Mounted on horses, blood hounds in their wake, crucifix held with both hands, they conquered the continent. El Progreso is proud to announce that, in the 21st century, traditional dances are a thing of the past. The province has become the equivalent of Costa Rica in Guatemala. It is now a multicultural

society that uses the word ‘indio’ to refer to Guatemala’s other provinces. And ‘indigena’ has a nice ring to it, they feel, at least in contemporary Spain. Its sole archaelogical site, Guaytan, lies between adobe houses with tin roofs. It is home to millions of mosquitoes and a forgotten past. Here, ‘brujos’ (1) perform their ancient rituals, preferably as far away as possible from the suspicious, uncomprehending Christian souls, of which catholics are a minority. Unfortunately, they are omnipresent. Nowadays, there is a fierce discussion whether 49 or 61% of Guatemala’s population is from Indian – i.e. Mayan – descent. This percentage is

downgraded every year, except by foreign aid organizations. Have you ever seen the sun on the facade of the church of San Cristobal Acasaguastlan? Or the clock, not from the colonial era, on top of the church of Santiago Esquipulas ? Have you noticed that the roman number IIII is not the usual number IV ? The church of San Augustin can be visited, even underground. The cemetery sits under the church, and a friendly man of some age invites you to go down the stairs. From rot to riches... If you were rich in the colonial era, you almost ended up underneath the altar. The less well-off stranded somewhere half distance. The poor – i.e. the Indians in the colonial era – never saw the inside of a church, alive or dead. Now they are allowed to go inside, even though they are still as poor as before but now they have been ‘granted’ a soul. A massive improvement. There

are still poor ‘ladinos’ as well, but they have always had a soul. (2) And then there is Esquipulas, the equivalent of Lourdes and Fatima in Europe, of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico-City. A black Christ, crucified since 1595, St. John, Mary Magdalene and Virgin Mary at his feet. Christ is hanging from the cross, the others kneel, stand or sit. He, the Son, hasn’t always been this black. The smoke from countless numbers of candles lit throughout the centuries has got something to do with it. In the aisles of this enormous church – a basilica since 1961, courtesy of Pope John XIII – you’ll notice that St. Veronica is unaffected by the smoke, while the less fortunate saints closer to the main altar are almost unrecognizable. So is it beneficial to women, having to sit in the back of the church ? Above the pulpit is a suggestive painting without a

NEWSLETTER recognizable pigeon, victim of the same candle epidemic. Being modest and sitting in the back clearly has its advantages. The veil with sweat, blood, tears and probably some leftovers from the Last Supper (sic) in the hands of Veronica is original. As are so many, the most original being kept in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.



The church of San Juan Camotan, on the border with Honduras, was reconstructed by Belgian volunteers in the seventies of the previous century. It’s a quiet town. Ignore the unseemly, upright stone with illegible markings. (1) Mayan priests, mostly from the western highlands of Guatemala. (2) Until 50 years after the invasion Indians were considered to be soulless beings Patrick Vercoutere Tour operator in Guatemala since 1997, trainee cultural guide . More information about fascinating Guatemala: WWW.ADRENALINATOURS.COM Church of San Cristóbal Acasaguastlán, El progreso, Guatemala C.A.


Trek From Alaska to Fuentes Georginas Season: all the year / best season: from November to May


he summit of Alaska is the highest point on the Interamerican Highway, reaching an altitude of 3100m, located in the department of Solola, Guatemala, it is the coldest point of this region. It is inhabited by Quiche Indigenous people who come from another town known as Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán, in the same department of Solola. For a long time this place was uninhabited due to temperature and also because is not possible to cultivate the basic grains to survive,

however , due to the threat of some geological faults located in Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán the villagers had to move to this cold and dry place. From this point the nature and challenging sport lovers can start a trek that will finish at the hot springs known as Fuentes Georginas. During the trek various inhabitants who live in this area can be seen working in the field very early. When the altitude of 3100m is reached the view over the Lake Atitlan is amazing. If you leave ear-

ly in morning from Quetzaltenango you may get to see the sunrise over the Lake Atitlan. On the way you can see at least 14 volcanoes, such as: Tajamulco, Tacana, Siete Orejas, Chicabal, Santa Maria, Cerro Quemado, Santiaguito, Santo Toomas, Toliman, Atitlan, San Pedro, Volcán de Fuego, Acatenango y volcán de Agua. If you are in a good physical condition you can also reach the summit of the volcano Zunil before starting the descent to Fuentes Georginas.

between the departments of Quetzaltenango, Solola y Suchitepequez. The vegetation is green all year, in the last part of the trek you will walk into one of the lasts primary cloud forest in Guatemala

The path where we pass through during the hikes is on the border

For more information write to

This trek takes approximately nine hours, 60% of the trek is gradual, the last three hours are downhill; the trek ends in the Natural volcanic hot springs “Fuentes Georginas” where you can relax and take a bath in the swimming pools.



Hot Spring La Castalia


By Jorge Soch


hen people think about making a trip to Guatemala one of the things they bring to their mind is the image of the tropical heat (30 Celsius degrees) however, Guatemala is a country full of surprises, such as the highlands region (2000 msl) the average of the temperature is 19 Celsius degrees, the weather is nice and cool.

challenging hikes and the gifts of nature like the hot springs, between the most famous ones is Fuentes Georginas located in Zunil, Quetzaltenango.

The reason of the high altitude is simple because the entire region is located in a volcanic zone, the good climate is only one benefit among many things such as the beautiful dreamlike landscapes perfect for

In this occasion I will talk about the Eco touristic center “La Castalia”, located in San Marcos, Guatemala, 257 km from the capital, this region has the qualities that make it a point that undoubtedly you have

The best part of traveling is not to visit the most frequented places but to adventure and discover those little unknown spots that inspire love to the visitors.

to visit. La Castalia has 5 swimming pools with hot springs water coming up through the rocks of “La Cueva” surrounded by a natural environment, which is perfect to relax and enjoy. But for those who love a little of excitement also satisfy their needs with a canopy of 450 meters, this canopy will surely filled you of adrenaline. In la Castalia you can do a 40 minutes walking through the mountain, the interpretative path leads you to the Palatza River and the Rio Naguala, when this two rives join form Rio Naranjo, one of the largest rivers in Guatemala, it is

impressive to see the power of water. In la Castalia you can also take a bath with natural sauna steam and feel the heat flowing from the hot stones. Finally, the to visit “LA CASTALIA” is highly recommended for those who love nature and look adventure or simply for relaxation. For sure “La Castalia” is going to be the favorite place for you, your family and friends, so I invite you to visit “La Castalia”. To see more, visit www.lacastalia. com or ask for a trip at


13 Av 4-25 zone 1 Inside Pasaje Enriquez Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, Tel:(502) 7761-4509 PBX: (502) 7932-5858

Newsletter Guatemala 03 English  

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