Guatemala – Growing up in the Land of Eternal Spring

Temples of Tikal Tower above the jungle canopy -- Guatemala -- Karina Noriega

When I was young girl growing up in Guatemala, my mom would delight in dragging my siblings and I around the country in search of history, culture and adventure.

A wonderful coincidence I should find a photograph the 3 of us riding a pony led caravan with the heading "Turistas" (Tourists) -- Guatemala -- Karina Noriega

A wonderful coincidence I should find a photograph the 3 of us riding a pony led caravan with the heading “Turistas” (Tourists) — Guatemala — Karina Noriega

“But Maaaaaam,” I frequently whined, “it’s just another bunch of rocks!” I was of course referring to the legendary and renowned ruin cities of the great Maya civilization. Back then, the derelict pyramidal structures were mostly jungle covered mounds (with exceptions such as Tikal). I certainly lacked the appreciation, negotiating my attentiveness for today’s history lessons in exchange for a chance to slide down the hills on a battered cardboard box.

Sometimes my mother would heave us into the back of the 4X4 or onto one of those famed ‘chicken buses’ if we were lucky. We’d ride endless hours on ramshackle roads (that disappear during times of heavy rains) into remote villages of the Western highlands. These volcanic chains are the heartland of Mayan tradition, unchanged for thousands of years. On any given weekend, exuberant and vibrant celebrations take place. My mom revelled in educating us about Guatemalan culture and heritage. The colourful dress, energetic dancing, hand carved masks, and superstition based performances, were fascinating teachers for our young minds and short attention spans.

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