The Guatemalan People: One Of The Best Reasons To Visit Guatemala

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Guatemala has long been one of my favourite countries and that’s in large part due to the Guatemalan people. They’re some of the friendliest I’ve ever met!

Guatemalan people near Lake Atitlan

I Love Guatemala 

I love the country so much that I’ve named my cat Fuego – a rather funny name for Spanish speakers since it means fire in Spanish and given that he’s a black cat! But he’s named after Fuego Volcano, an active volcano just outside of Antigua that puts on a regular and rather spectacular show!

The Guatemalan people are another reason why I keep coming back.
Surprisingly, not everyone in Guatemala speaks Spanish. In fact, only about 60% do, according to Wikipedia. The rest of the population speaks one of the 23 Amerindian languages.

an elderly Guatemalan lady and a cat

Perhaps that is not so surprising when you consider that approximately 40% of the population is indigenous.

I recently returned to Guatemala for a third time with Intrepid Travel, as part of their Adventure Collective. One of the things that I loved about my trip with Intrepid Travel is that they directly support the local community. Our guide was Guatemalan.

Related Reading: Guatemala 12-Day Itinerary for Adventure Seekers

Visiting Local Initiatives for Guatemalan People

We visited a women’s weaving collective in a village near Lake Atitlan where women used traditional weaving techniques. Each handmade item proudly displayed the woman’s name who had made it. I demonstrated extreme willpower by only buying a scarf, which took a Guatemalan woman an entire week to make! We also did a homestay with a Mayan family near Lake Atitlan.

Not only did this provide insights into a Mayan family’s modern way of life, but it also provided a unique opportunity to interact with locals in an authentic way. At the same time, it provided the village with a much-needed economic boost. Giving back to such wonderful people who warmly welcomed me into their country and into their homes was the best gift of all!

Related Reading: Your Travel Guide to Antigua, Guatemala

Take a look below and you’ll see why I love Guatemalans so much:

Guatemala people, a young girl who loved posing

Related Reading: The 5 Best Day Hikes in Guatemala

Guatemalan people taking a collective taxi in a village near Lake Atitlan
Guatemalan people taking a collective taxi in a village near Lake Atitlan
A Guatemalan girl celebrates her Quinceañera, (her 15th birthday)
A Guatemalan girl celebrates her Quinceañera, (her 15th birthday)

An elderly Guatemalan man in a local store.

Related Reading: The 3 Volcano Hike in Guatemala That Will Make You Feel Victorious!

Young Guatemalan boy riding a horse in a village near Lake Atitlan.

Related Reading: Guatemala: 8 Adventures You Have To Try

Elderly Guatemalan woman people-watching on the street.

Young Guatemalan girl eating a snack on a school break.


Guatemalan people are welcoming and homely and I loved this about them. 

9 thoughts on “The Guatemalan People: One Of The Best Reasons To Visit Guatemala”

  1. On March 8, while the world celebrated women’s historical fight for equality and equity on International Women’s Day, almost 60 Guatemalan girls were locked up and burned alive inside the “Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asunción” shelter, located in San José Pinula, Guatemala. At present, 40 have died, many others remain missing and some survived. Recent testimonies gathered from the victims and eyewitnesses point to direct participation of the police and shelter authorities in this massacre.

    Since 2015, more than 16 complaints have been filed before the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman revealing physical, sexual and psychological violence towards children and teenagers living in the shelter – a state institution whose duty is to respect, protect and ensure the best interests of the children entrusted to its care. The complaints resulted in a judicial order issued on December 12, 2016 demanding changes within the Social Welfare Secretariat that would guarantee the well-being and integral development of these children. The Secretariat never complied with this order.

    Amidst our outrage, pain and grief at this horrific incident, we want to acknowledge the invaluable job done by our partners at Nómada. They were the first to publish news of this tragedy on their website and continued publishing updates which contributed, together with other local outlets, to loud demands for justice and further coverage of the massacre in the international media. Sadly but not surprisingly, Nómada has since been targeted by cyber-attacks and hackers in an attempt to prevent their investigative reporting.   

    As Hivos, we stand firmly behind the condemnations of the United Nations, Impunity Watch, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the statements signed by civil society organizations that are or have been Hivos’ partners, such as the Human Rights Defenders Protection Unit of Guatemala (UDEFEGUA), the Centre for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH) and the Confluence of Mesoamerican Feminists Las Petateras. We also fully support the calls issued by different feminist and women’s organizations for a thorough investigation by the government and their expressions of deep concern regarding the lack of attention paid to the complaints of the victims, the shelter’s utter disregard for children’s and women’s rights and the impunity of the perpetrators.

    As Hivos, we also demand:

    That the State of Guatemala expedite the investigation, prosecute those responsible for this femicide and guarantee immediate justice for the families affected.  That the State of Guatemala take long term drastic measures to ensure permanent protection of Guatemalan women and children against any kind of violence, especially of those who, because of their age or a special condition, are under the care of the State. That the State of Guatemala comply with the international commitments it undertook when it ratified the CEDAW, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.   That the human rights of every Guatemalan enshrined in the constitution be protected.That the work of human rights defenders, journalists, activists and civil society organizations not be obstructed so they can accurately and fairly monitor anomalies at State or other institutions, and thus prevent unfortunate events such as this one.

    This tragedy show us how urgently we need to stimulate the creation of support networks for activists, journalists, human rights defenders and civil society organizations to monitor this incident and others like it and demand that justice be served.     

    We urge news organizations, CSOs and individual rights activists everywhere to keep discussing and analyzing the developments of this case and to promote human rights advocacy initiatives in Guatemala and Latin America, so that gross violations like this never happen again.

    Hivos stands for a truly open society, one in which women of all ages are able to exercise their right to a life free of violence on a basis of equality,  one in which citizens and civil society are can demand accountability from their government without retaliation and harassment.

  2. These colorful photos make me want to go to Guatemala now! I love that second photo with the girl wearing the pink flats. So sweet.

    That’s great to know that Intrepid Travel supports the local community. It sounds like you had an interesting peek into local life while there.

    • @Jenna – Can’t recommend Guatemala enough – I’ve been 3 times and would again in a heartbeat! That girl was adorable! We could understand each other without speaking. Great to travel with companies like Intrepid Travel and know that you’re making a positive difference just by being there.

  3. Beautiful pictures that well capture the essence of a fantastic people. I have been to Guatemala 3 times, and I am hoping there will be a 4th soon. The women collectives in Atitlan are FANTASTIC – I wonder if you are talking about the one in San Antonio Palopo, or the one in San Juan? Oh well… It just is a place of incredible beauty, and the people are indeed fantastic.

    • @Claudia – Thank you and I hear ya about hoping to go a 4th time. The weaving collective was the one in San Juan. I love how well organized the locals are and the responsibility they take for their wellbeing making it easy for travellers to support them, plus I love my new scarf!


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