Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Travel the World - Guatemala

I started a 50-week series in 2019 that I called Travel the World. Each week of the series I visited a randomly-selected country, sharing bits of information about that country. I then chose one tidbit of information about that week's country as inspiration for a card. As I explored those 50 countries in 2019, I knew I would continue on until I've visited every one of the 195 countries in the world. By the end of 2021, I'd virtually traveled to 145 countries and plan to complete my journey to all 195 countries by visiting the last 50 this year.

This week's country is...


Guatemala is the largest country in Central America. It is the fifth largest country of the North American continent.

Guatemala is slightly smaller in area than Pennsylvania.

Guatemala shares borders with four countries. On its north lie Mexico and Belize while on its south are El Salvador and Honduras. The Pacific Ocean is on its west.

The landscape of Guatemala is mountainous and most of the cities of Guatemala are located in the Highlands. About 60% of the country is covered by mountains.

While Spanish is the official language, 22 languages are spoken in Guatemala.

Guatemala is the most populated country in Central America.

More than half of the people in Guatemala live in rural areas. The more populated areas are located in the southern half of the country. About 3 million people live in and around the capital city Guatemala City. 

Guatemala means "land of many trees".

It is also known as the land of eternal spring.

Guatemala has two coastlines. The Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean sandwich Guatemala. The Pacific Ocean coastline is the longest of the two. It stretches for around 155 miles from the western Mexican border through to the eastern border of El Salvador. Along the Pacific coastline, you’ll find popular beach towns. Its Caribbean sea coastline (a suboceanic basin of the western Atlantic Ocean) zigzags for 94 miles along the Bay of Amatique and the Gulf of Honduras. As you can imagine, Guatemala has some stunning beaches.

A lot of Guatemala is covered with a lush vegetation. Hot weather and frequent showers of rain make it an excellent place for all kinds of bugs.

With more than 30 volcanoes in the country, Guatemala is known for its spectacular landscapes. Three of these volcanoes are active, including Fuego Volcano just outside the colonial city of Antigua. 

Guatemala's Lake Atitlan is the deepest and most beautiful lake in Central America.

Motagua River is the longest river in Guatemala. It measures approximately 250 miles. The river is a major transportation artery for coffee, bananas and other fruits that are raised in the valleys of the country’s eastern region.

Guatemala is one of 17 megadiverse countries in the world. Megadiverse countries: “house the largest indices of biodiversity, including a large number of endemic species“. This makes Guatemala one of the greatest countries for animal and wildlife lovers. In fact, it is the second-highest-ranking country in Central America in terms of eco-regional diversity and the total number of species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and plants. Guatemala has registered approximately 13,866 species, for instance, it has 3,549 fauna and 10,317 flora species.

Estimates suggest that Guatemala has 250 species of mammals, 600 species of birds, 200 species of reptiles and amphibians, and numerous species of butterflies and insects.

Guatemala is listed as the country with the highest diversity of lungless salamanders. Almost half of the 41 species of this salamanders are endemic in the country.

The richest variety of animal life inhabits the lowland forest areas, although some species, such as deer, monkeys, peccaries, tapirs, ocelots, and jaguars, are increasingly rare. Among the reptiles of note are numerous snake species, crocodiles, and iguanas. The birdlife of the rainforests is particularly exuberant and includes the radiantly plumaged quetzal (Pharomachrus), the national bird, for which a reserve has been set aside in the sierras near Cobán.

McDonald’s Happy Meal comes from Guatemala. In the 1970s, Guatemalan businesswoman and philanthropist Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño came up with a meal with small portions for kids. She called it the “Ronald Menu.” 

One of Guatemala's famous tourist attractions is the Santa Catalina Arch. The residential area of the nuns lies on one side of the Arch while a school where they teach lies on the other. Made in 1694, it served as a passageway for the nuns who took their vow of seclusion so that they won’t have to cross the populated street. In 1773, an earthquake destroyed the city of Antigua except for the Arch which remained standing until today.

Monterrico, a volcanic beach defined by its black sand, allows visitors to save a sea turtle. Their local sea sanctuary is a place where you could help in caring for the turtles until they are ready to be back in the ocean.

Tuc tucs are a very fun way of transportation in Guatemala. It is basically a scooter with a roof and some extra seats that can be hired for short distances within a city or village.

Old American school buses live their second lives as "Chicken Buses". When big yellow American school buses near 10 years or clock in 150,000 miles, some are auctioned off and driven down to Guatemala. The buses are revived by locals with strokes of paint in every color of the rainbow. Guatemalans then use it for local transport. Riding Guatemala’s public transit is a thrilling ride. Opting for this budget-friendly travel alternative will give you an eclectic local experience.

The main agricultural products in Guatemala are sugarcane, bananas, plantains, pineapples and other fruits. 

The largest export industry in Guatemala is coffee. Guatemalan coffee is consumed around the world. Almost 50% of Guatemalans are employed in agricultural activities.

Bananas and coffee are Guatemala’s biggest exports. They account for over $2 billion and 20% of Guatemala’s total exports.

Locals in Guatemala prefer to drink coffee weak and sweet with little milk. Apart from drinking fruit juices, Guatemalans also love drinking fruit shakes, commonly referred as “licuados”.

Guatemala was the first country to develop instant coffee.

The second largest industry in Guatemala is tourism. Around 35% of the country’s population has jobs under the tourism department.

Guatemala City is the industrial and commercial center of the country, employing the remaining 15% of the population.

Guatemala is the world's leading producer of jade.

Countless showers in Guatemala have a heating system for the water that works on electricity. The device that heats the water is placed right above ones head, where the water comes out. Tourists often call these "suicide showers."

Fourteen percent (14%) of Guatemalans live on less than $1.25 US a day.

Guatemalan handicrafts are among the finest in the world.

Guatemala is thought to be one of the first places to invent chocolate. Considered the ‘food of the gods’ by the Mayans, the chocolate-making tradition originated in the Maya world, which encompassed modern-day Guatemala.

Guatemalan natives frown upon speaking loudly in public.

Guatemalans are known for their bright colored clothing.

Upon invitation into a Guatemalan household, the appropriate gifts are wine, chocolate, or flowers. But you must avoid giving gifts that are easily breakable as well as white flowers. These are typical funeral items.

Guatemalans consume a lot of corn, beans, and rice, which are served alongside meat and fish.

For breakfast, Guatemalans use eggs, spicy salsas and warm tortillas that are usually served with local cheeses.

Fruits also form a significant portion of the diets of Guatemalans. They eat fruits like papayas, mangoes, bananas, pineapples, and carambola.

As part of the Christmas celebration, it is a tradition among Guatemalans to fire guns into the sky. Sadly, the Guatemalan tradition kills 5-10 people each year due to the falling bullets after the performance.

On May 30, 2010, an enormous hole, 60 feet wide and 30 stories deep, opened up in the middle of Guatemala City, swallowing a three-story building and a home. It also caused the death of a man. The reason for the formation of the sinkhole is thought to be the weak material the city is built on – volcano pumice.

Guatemalans fly kites to honor their dead. All Saints Day Kite Festival is Guatemalans’ way of honoring their dead. Every year on November 1st, Guatemalans partake in this ritual that has been around for more than 3000 years. People flock down to the cemeteries to clean and decorate the graves of their loves ones. Then, Guatemalans fly massive and intricately-decorated kites high in the sky — it’s quite the sight to behold.

As soon as a person dies in Guatemala, there are 15 funerals held. It is customary to hold a funeral swiftly so that the person's soul might enter Heaven sooner. It is not uncommon for numerous candles and rum to be lit during funerals as a tribute to the person who has passed. Only at the funerals of adults is there loud wailing and grief; children's deaths are grieved silently.

One of the most popular sports in Guatemala is football (soccer). In addition, Guatemalans also enjoy an activity known as Spelunking where they go and explore the caves. Outdoor sports such as rafting, white- water rafting; kayaking and volcano climbing are also preferred.

While the Maya adults greet each other verbally, asking about one’s health and family, Latino adults greeting and farewells call for embraces, handshakes, arm or shoulder patting and even cheek kissing almost from the first acquaintance.

As soon as a baby is born, hot tortilla drink is given to the mother. It is believed that drinking hot tortilla helps provide abundant, good and rich breast milk. A red bracelet is put on the baby’s right hand to protect her from bad spirited people.

Guatemala has the lowest literacy rate in North America (81%).

My inspiration for this week's card is based on this fact about Guatemala... Blue denim was first developed in Guatemala. Within a few years of its inception, Levi's began selling blue jeans worldwide.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

Stamp Set: Stampin' UP! Heartland stamped with Memento Tuxedo Black Ink and colored with Copic Markers

Paper: Hammermill 110# White, Recollections Kraft, and SU Misti Moonlight CS

Dies: Gina K Master Layouts 2, Paper Roses Stitched Circles, and Spellbinders A2 Matting Basics

Embellishments: Gina Marie Enamel Dots


Janis Lewis said...

I love this stamp set. I think I sold mine a year or so ago, but the images in this set are so pretty. Great card!

kiwimeskreations said...

Love your resume of this beautiful country Jeanette. So many facts :)
Your card is a delight - a sweet image and so beautifully used.

Barb said...

This is one of favorite cards you have made--reminds me of Brock!