February 1, 2003 - Personal Web site: Janet Getchell, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Guatemala

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Guatemala: Peace Corps Guatemala: Peace Corps in Guatemala: February 1, 2003 - Personal Web site: Janet Getchell, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Guatemala

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, February 01, 2003 - 4:19 pm: Edit Post

Janet Getchell, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Guatemala

Janet Getchell, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Guatemala

Janet Getchell
Returned Peace Corps Volunteer
About Guatemala

Women bringing birds to vaccine clinic in Olintepeque, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

This section is about Guatemala and its people


There are two main groups of people in Guatemala, The Ladinos and The Maya
The Maya are alive and well in Guatemala. Most of the Mayan women still wear their traditional clothes and some of the men in certain parts of the country. They still speak their Mayan dialects and practice their religion and customs.

There are about 27 dialects of Mayan. The most common is Quiche, which is what I learned in Guatemala. Many of the women do not speak Spanish or speak very little..


The women where a woven shirt called a Huipel, just by looking at the patterns and colors you can know where they are from. They wear a woven belt called a faja and a skirt called Corte. The men in some parts of the country wear woven shirts and striped or bordered pants which looks like a quilt.


The largest Mayan Ruins are in Guatemala. The fantastic Tikal ruins in the Peten are amazing, as is the jungle and wildlife. You can still climb most of the pyramids. And if you get special permission from the guards (no need to pay for this special permission) you can stay up at the ruins to watch the sunset and hear the howler monkeys' screams. I recommend staying in the Park if you go. The Jungle Lodge is the best (but not the cheapest) and you can kind of make reservations in Guatemala City. Jungle Lodge is of the few hotels in the park that you can make reservation before you go.


The Ladinos are of Spanish and Mayan blood. They usually speak only Spanish. Most of the politicians are Ladinos but this is changing.


Guatemala has a very diverse landscape. It has high cloud forests, rain forests, desert, high plains, tropical coasts, volcanoes (mostly active) and the center of three plates which means a couple earthquakes a month.


The climate depends on where you live. While I was freezing at my site. The water would freeze over at night and be in the 70's to 80's during the day. I had friends who were dying of the heat, 108 degrees Fahrenheit every day all year around.

There are two seasons in Guatemala the Rainy Season and the Dry Season. The rains come from April to October and usually are for only part of the day and the rest of the day is nice. The dry season is from October to April and it gets very dusty all over the country.

Tourist Attractions in Guatemala

There is a lot to see and do in Guatemala. Antigua, the old capital, is a great place, beautiful colonial city and ruins. Many of the great Volcanoes to climb are nearby (be aware it is very dangerous to climb to volcanoes due to robberies and how active the volcanoes are).

Lake Atitlan, with three volcanoes at the lake, is incredibly beautiful and has probably the best buys on handicrafts. If you go, stay at Noah's Arc across the lake from Panajachel. great food !

Near Atitlan is the famous market Chichicastenango. Be aware prices are high midday but drop by end of day. Don't go first thing in the morning.

Quetzaltenango, or better known as Xela, great thermal baths near city. Nice glass factories. Probably the best Spanish Schools are here. Guatemalneses is good for smaller schools and bigger ones like Popul Vuj, Maya Linguists, Santa Rosa are all fairly good schools. If you contact the school directly you may get better price. Should cost you about $100 a week for 6 hours of one on one Spanish and room and board included in that price. Don't pay more!

Ah, the best for last, Tikal in the Peten. Go by Aviateca Airlines (they are the safest) to Tikal and stay in the Park. Don't stay in Flores!!!!!! The best place in the park is the Jungle Lodge. They have a reservations desk in Guatemala City (in the phone book). The park is beautiful and some of the best Mayan ruins in the world. Much bigger than Copan in Honduras or the stuff in Mexico. The wildlife is great. Lots of monkeys, toucans, parrots. Get permission from the guards to stay for sunset (you do not have to "pay" for this permission). At night the parrots fly over the ruins and the howler monkeys scream their spooky scream as the sun sets over temple IV. My favorite temples are Lost World and Temple IV. Be aware, there are no really good places to eat in Tikal.

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By Sue Carney (inversas.2g.jazztel.es - on Friday, July 14, 2006 - 2:07 pm: Edit Post

It's really great to hear that "Noahs Arc" in Lake Atitlan is still going, ten years later to date of note. Would you have any information about it, as I would love to go there with my children now, thirteen years later. I have tried looking for info. on internet but this is the best I could find.

Thanks in advance any help.

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