The Guatemalan people are one of the warmest nations we have met during our travels. "Feliz tarde" in the literal translation of "happy afternoon", not good, not nice, but happy, this is how the inhabitants of Guatemala greet each other. In greeting, a kiss on the cheek, and no matter how long we've known each other, it's possible that we just met, all the more, a pleasant acquaintance. It doesn't matter what status, in what relations we are, whether it is one of our suppliers or the cleaning lady at the school where I teach. When I order coffee in the school canteen, I hear "Aqui, mi amor" "Here, my darling." The lady who serves 20 screaming kids at the same time has the strength to call each of them "her darling".
2. Life among the Mayans
Before, we thought that the Mayans were a tribe that once lived in America before Columbus, because that's all they teach us about the Mayans in school. When we enter the Mayans in Google, only pyramids and writing pop up, it's as if under the slogan "Poles" only Biskupin popped up. The Mayans are still alive, currently in Guatemala they constitute 40% of the population of all inhabitants, they speak 21 different languages. They live mainly in villages, although walking through the streets of Antigua, you can tell that it is a real Mayan city. Women in traditional costumes can be found everywhere, at the market, in schools, in the bank. They pass their tradition from generation to generation, girls from an early age learn how to weave huipiles, and boys how to make shoes.
Guatemala owes its breathtaking beauty, among other things, to its active and inactive volcanoes, which stand like guardians over colonial cities and azure lakes. There are as many as 37 of them throughout the country, of which only 3 are active. All 3 are within easy reach of Antigua. And it is an amazing experience to sit on the terrace of your home and watch the lava flowing down the Fuego volcano in the distance. It is even better to observe it up close, which is why we recommend everyone to climb one of the volcanoes, it is a view that stays in your memory forever.
4. Fruits and vegetables
For 10 huge mangoes in season we pay 10 quetzals, 5 zlotys, the same for 10 huge avocados. Every fruit has a season or two in a year, but there is no moment without a season. That's why we never get bored of any fruit and we never have to freeze them. Fruit is available on every corner, it's like a snack. Sliced mango and peeled orange with a small bag of chilli.
5. Rainy season
Yes, in spite of when the tourist season is in the dry season. The dry season is when it is winter in Poland, and since we are in the same hemisphere, it is also cold here. Twice this year it has been below 0 (Oh my god, it was cold!). The temperature ranges are huge, when the sun burns to 25 degrees during the day, and drops below 10 degrees at night. The rainy season is perfect, temperatures reach up to 35 degrees, at night they drop a bit, but you can still wear a T-shirt with short sleeves. Sometimes it rains, it's true, but what more could you want after a hot day than rain? The air is fresh (if such a term can be used in this country), the streets are not crowded with tourists, thus the prices for various attractions are lower.
6. No bureaucracy
In Guatemala, as in any other developing country, customary law is more important than written law. If you want to sell rolls in the middle of the street, no problem, no one will stop you from doing so, just don't do it in a place that has already been occupied by someone else. No one requires a work permit from you (probably it doesn't even exist), no one asks for a resident card, as long as you live here and spend your money here you are most welcome in this country :)
Guatemala is safe, believe me! The probability of robbery is the same as in any European city. Just be careful, not one thief in London will be tempted by the latest Canon mirror. In this subsection, we cannot forget about city guards (bodyguards?). It is thanks to them that we feel so safe in this country. Gentlemen are everywhere, on every corner there is a man with a rifle in case there is a riot in the city. Every delivery of carbonated drinks in stores or a restaurant is covered. You won't steal a single Coke bottle.
Running two online businesses with an internet that is sometimes there, sometimes not, is an amazing lesson in patience. And it's not like you can find a better one, there is no better one. And no one cares that you pay and demand. There is no such expression in Guatemala as "I pay and demand", you pay it well or we will charge you a fine. If you call the hotline, maybe we'll come tomorrow, and tomorrow we'll forget anyway, so we'll come the day after tomorrow.
It is impossible not to fall in love with this country of absod, traditions and contrasts, in the country of colors, smiles and warmth.