Guatemala, host country of unique experiences, possesses richness of culture and nature that invites the visitants to know the integrating conception of an ancestral legacy: mystic and global, able to incite the visitant to enjoy the historical, harmonic, natural, spiritual and experiential elements of the communities of Guatemala.
These experiences are the combined with the people from Guatemala, who care the cultural and natural heritage and share with foreign people their live style, hard work, traditional knowledge and custom.
Here, the visitant will know the Mayan culture and worldview and enjoy the nature which has microclimate, colorful scene, richness in flora and fauna and paths that offer adventures.
The country counts with a diversity of traditional activities that allow the tourist to have a dynamic relation with the indigenous people and the tourist destinations.
Guatemala presents to the world a variety of lovely tourist destinations which are available for all the people who want to enjoy an adventure in this wonderful country. Some of these places are: the Mayan sacred places, archeological sites, natural reserves, volcanoes, lakes, rivers and local markets.
Guatemala stands out for being the place where was developed one of the greatest cultures that humanity had known, the Mayan culture, with a wonderful ancestral legacy and amazing constructions which was made by the ancient Mayas who left this knowledge to the current Mayas who lived with other cultures of Guatemala like: the Garífuna, Xinca and the Mestiza rich in worldview and traditions.
More than 3,000 years ago, the ancient Mayas left a unique legacy full of knowledge in which they built monuments of cultural importance for Guatemala. The Mayas also left the knowledge of knit, Mayan medicine, traditional knowledge, events of life, food, Mayan worldview and fair tourism.
Achi’: Baja Verapaz
Ch’orti’: Chiquimula and Zacapa
Itza’: El Petén
Ixil: El Quiché
K´iche´: El Quiché, Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu, Sololá, Suchitepéquez, Totonicapán, San Marcos and Chimaltenango.
Kaqchikel: Chimaltenango, Guatemala, Baja Verapaz, Sacatepéquez, Sololá and Suchitepéquez.
Mam: Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango, San Marcos and Retalhuleu
Poqomam: Escuintla, Guatemala and Jalapa
Poqomchi’: Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz and El Quiché
Q´eqchi´: Alta Verapaz, Petén, Quiché and Izabal
Sakapulteka: El Quiché
Sipakapense: San Marcos
Tz’utujil: Sololá and Suchitepéquez
Uspanteka: El Quiché
They arrived in Guatemala more than II centuries ago, has their own language, gastronomy. Currency, the culture possesses own cultural expressions like, clothing and dance. Most of the Garífuna people live in Izabal.
Nowadays, it is one of the indigenous towns that don’t belong with the Mayan culture. It has its own worldview, identity and language. The Xinca people are a group with four linguistic variants which are in the departments of Jutiapa, Jalapa and Santa Rosa.
It is the given name to the particular way of understand and see the cosmos, elements of nature and relation of the Mayas from Mesoamerica.
The Mayan culture has transcended throughout the time, maintaining the knowledge which has been acquired by their forefathers who has taught how to live in harmonic and balanced with all that surrounds them. Mothers have had the mission to teach their children the values since the pregnancy as their mothers did.
One recommendation of the forefathers is to know how to live in peace with the people, united as a family.
Some of the elements of the Mayan worldview are: time, cosmogony and values.
- 1. Time:
The time for the Mayas is not only about spaces, centuries, periods or the course of the life but also is something about religion. They used the time to establish the correct times and spaces to celebrate ceremonies, being understood as one of the manifestation of cosmos which determined the process of life from the pregnancy to the development of the person.
The time allows the relationship between periods, for example: sun with shadow, rain with drying periods, etc., an important fact is that everything goes integrating the beginning of the equilibrium since both things complement each other and both things depend one of the other.
- 2. Cosmogony
The Maya population lives their worldview through all the knowledge created by their forefathers to explain the origin of life and universe. The spirituality is sustain of the life and human life, is the moment in which the existential relation predominates.
This element is essential, because is the main expression of the Mayan worldview, in this element will be studied the topics of sacred places, Mayan calendar, priests, etc.
There are many elements that began the spiritual field. The sacred Ball game was played in Mesoamerica from the Pre-classic period to the Spanish conquest. This sport was a ritual and practiced in different ways by all the Mesoamerican towns.
Archeological sites and sculptures show that Mayas played the game. The decoding of Mayan writing exposes new aspects about the sacred game.
According to the iconography, linked to the sacred Ball Game, leaders could protect the underworld. These leaders played against people who have characteristics of the heavenly world.
Nowadays, the plazas where the sport was practiced are preserved. Some of these places are: Iximché, Quiriguá, Yaxhá and Tikal.
The sacred places, base for ceremonies, can be naturals or built; both are essential spaces where the cosmic energy is joined and where the human communicates with the creator, cosmos and ancestors. It let to develop permalinks with the environment for the equilibrium of life.
Most important sacred places:
Laguna de Chicabal – San Martín Sacatepéquez, Quetzaltenango;
Caves of Chicoy – Purulhá, Baja Verapaz;
Hill Kaj Juyub – Rabinal, Baja Verapaz;
Archeological Park Takaliq A’baj – El Asintal Retalhuleu;
Sacred site K’umarcaaj – Quiche,
Sacred site Belejeb Tzi’ – Quiche,
Iximche-Tecpán – Chimaltenango;
Kaminal Juyú – Guatemala City;
Archeological site Mixco Viejo – Guatemala City;
Archeological park Quiriguá – Los Amates, Izabal;
Archeological Park de Tikal – Petén;
Archeological site – Ceibal, Petén;
Archeological site Ixlu – Petén;
Archeological site Ixkun – Petén;
Archeological Site Uaxantún – Petén;
Archeological complex Yaxhá – Petén;
Caves Naj Tunich – Petén;
Archeological site – El Mirador, Petén;
Archeological Site Nakbé – Petén;
Archeological Site Iximche – Técpan, Chimaltenango;
Acropolis of el Baúl – Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa, Escuintla;
Complex of Zaculeu – Huehuetenango;
Archeological park Quiriguá – Los Amates, Izabal;
Between the distribution of cultural diversity and distribution of biodiversity exist a close correlation, the indigenous population, specially the Maya population; share a spiritual, cultural, social and economic relationship with their resources and respect to the Mother Nature.
Laws, manners and tradition show a relation with the ground as well as the responsibility to preserve it for future use. The survival of the biologic richness of the world is linked with the perdurability of the cultures and native languages.
- 3. Values
Throughout the time, the Mayas learned how to live in harmonic and balanced with all that surround them. The worldview is taught since pregnancy. Being the family an important example to show that living with other people is the only way to the real social and family warmth is given.
The ancestral knowledge is the inherited legacy, from the ancient Mayas, by the current ones: letting a set of elements which would help to its great development. All the knowledge has helped to preserve the culture.
In the Mayan worldview, humanity is considering as part of everything. For that medicine and heath are considering as the result of living in harmonic with the society laws, nature and the divine world.
Sickness is considering as the result of an unbalanced harmonic which is provoked by many factors like: diet, weather, infections, emotions and energies. Most of these factors are able to make a person “health” or “sick”. The Mayan spiritual guide is in charge of maintaining traditions into the organizations and communities and protects the health of communities.
Mayan culinary arts:
Since ancient times, the Mayas prepared their food based on substances, plants and seeds like beans, corn and achiote used in present times for Guatemalans.
Guatemala conserves a big variety of dishes like: pepián of chicken or beef, kakik of turkey, jocón, tamales, tortillas and more typical food. If you want to taste any of this typical food, visit the different tourist regions which are full of color, flavors and traditions; able to satisfy any palate.
According to the World Tourism Organization, the traditional economies are the base for the economic survival of the indigenous towns and are based on knowledge of environment, result of the experience.
One of the most important cultural richness of Guatemala is the knowledge of indigenous people which has been essential for the economic development of the communities.
Among the outstanding activities are: handicrafts, gastronomy, writing, oral traditions, design and elaboration of fabrics, painting, farming, etc.