The surprise highlight of our 2009 travels in Central America was Guatemala, a country that meant little to us before we visited it. Though poor monetarily, Guatemala is rich in the beauty of its scenery, the quiet dignity of many of its people, and the grandeur of its Mayan ruins. We were especially charmed by the traditional dress proudly worn by Maya women, though less charmed by the traditional Guatemalan bus system.

When we visited

February to April 2009

Major stops

Flores, Tikal, Coban, Nebaj, Chichicastenango, Lake Atitlan (Panajachel and Santa Cruz la Laguna), Antigua

Memorable Moment

Seeing “pay phones” at an outdoor market in Coban: old push-button desk phones on long cords dragged from offices out onto the sidewalk, where people could pay a few cents to make a call

Did you know?

Guatemala’s currency, the quetzal, is named after the country’s national bird. The ancient Maya used the red and green feathers of the quetzal as money.

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