Guatemala: Things Worth Knowing

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We will begin this journey in the currently ever-so-chilly Cincinnati, Ohio and we will end it in the ever-so-lovely Guatemala.

As this is my first blog, I will start with useful information/how I am preparing for this study abroad. This is my first, and will be my only study abroad experience. As one could guess, I AM REALLY REALLY EXCITED Y’ALL! I have complete faith in our fearless leader Dr. Rogers that this will be a great trip, and most importantly a wonderful experience we will all remember for the rest of our lives!

However, lets get down to the educational stuff.

First order of business, lets talk about Guatemalan History. Today’s wonderful people in the beautiful country of Guatemala derived from the Ancient Mayan Civilization. Today, the Guatemalans have a democratic republic although it was not an easy road to freedom.

Mayans were conquered in 1524 by a Spanish conquistador known as Mr. Pedro de Alvarado. The country became a republic which lasted from 1898-1920. Upon the fall of the republic, dictators (Manuel Estrada Cabrera and Gen. Jorge Ubico Castaneda) ruled until 1944 when the people of Guatemala came together for a revolution.

Government disputes led to a civil war between right winged vigilant military grounds and leftist rebels. This became a war that lasted a very, very long 36 years. By the end of the war approximate 200,000 Guatemalan citizens were dead.

Finally in 1996, a peace agreement was signed by President Alvaro Arzu Irgoyen. The mass number of deaths led to a government trial in recent news. However, due to corruption within the government the conviction was thrown out.

Now that we know that Guatemala is a democracy and we’ve brushed up on our history, lets come to present day. We leave in about two months and my mind is swarming with questions about this Central American Country!

A big concern of all travelers is definitely safety.

According to GOV.UK Guatemala has one of the highest crime rates in Latin America. This includes Guatemala City where we will be landing. (Makes you feel warm and cozy, right?) However, most of this crime is gang-related and doesn’t often happen in tourist areas. This doesn’t mean that it CAN’T happen, it just means it’s unusual. We should try our best to be aware that most of these violent crimes happen in the Historical Centre which is referred to at Zone One (within Zone One a lot of cheap hotels and lower end areas are around).

How we can be the most safe!

1) Stay together!
2) Don’t draw any large sums of money from the ATM at once, and try to avoid drawing money at all at night time.
3) Don’t be flashy (including jewelry or showing laptops)
4) Beware of false police officers and scam artist!
5) Good news is there is a low threat of terrorism!

I need money, honey.

One big question I have is about currency. How much bang can we get for our US buck?

Guatemalan currency is the Quetzal, and it is abbreviated at just Q.  According to XE currency converter about $200 US dollars will convert to approximately $1,547.10 Q.

Weather

According to The Lonely Planet, there is no bad time to visit Guatemala! The heightened tourist season is from Christmas-Easter. (Which makes sense because most of the population is Catholic so they probably want to celebrate these weeks together!)

Their rainy season begins in mid-May and lasts until November, we will be visiting during their hottest and driest month of the year, looking at a high around 80ish and a low around 60ish!

Onto other important subjects. What kind of chow will we be munching on?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, we should avoid eating things: at room temperature, fruit/veggies we haven’t washed ourselves, undercooked eggs, and “bushmeat.” (AKA: monkey’s and other wild game, dairy products that aren’t pasteurized, and water that isn’t bottled).

Now that we’ve found out it’s unsafe for us to eat monkey brains with a side of raw eggs and a tall glass of well water, lets find out about common foods in Guatemala!

The food in Guatemala has been deeply influenced by  the Mayan heritage and Spanish culture.

A common breakfast may consist of some of the countries tropical fruits (I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS! PASS THE MANGO’S AMIGOS!), as well as eggs, tortillas, beans, and of course COFFEE!

– Random thought: Do they have Spelenda? It’s okay, I’ll  bring stuff about 100 packets in my backpack just incase.

Most other meals consist of corn, beans, rice, tortillas and cheese.

Beef stews and soups are also very popular dishes. Also, apparently if we order roasted chicken we might get lucky and the feet will still be attached!

Here are some photos of common Guatemalan Dishes:

Chiles Rellenos

Chicken Pepian

Kak’ik

I’m a little nervous about this one kids. But hey, I’ll try anything twice.

This will complete my current blog post. We will see you next time to discuss our class tour of Cincinnati’s Coffee Emporium!

Peace and Blessings!

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