A vibrant land and culture
Guatemala is a wild, colorful, and vibrant country evident not only in its landscapes, but in its native culture and Mayan people. Guatemala is also one of the most ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse countries; with twenty-one different Mayan languages being spoken along with Spanish.
Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in Central America, largely a result of the decades-long civil war which ended in 1996. The country has been recovering from the war, but is still considered by many a dangerous place to travel.
Lake Atitlán from the summit of Volcan Atitlán with volcanoes San Pedro (left) and Volcán Tolimán (right)
Pura Utz Pin Pin!
(Brendan James) In the past year that I have been in Guatemala I have seen some of the most amazing things in my life. Amazing beauty, amazing poverty, amazing kindness, amazing natural wonders and amazing environmental destruction. Living, working and navigating this incredibly dense country has been a daily adventure for me.
The people of Guatemala are incredible, no really. It was their openness to me that kept me here as a traveler and gave me new comfort in the world unknown. As one of the few gringos in the country racing mountain bikes – they embraced me. They have given me hospice in their own homes and taken me into their extended family.
You really are never alone in Guatemala. The indigenous are constantly pushed deeper and deeper into the rugged mountains to continue a tradition of farming and subsistence living off the land. When exploring within country you need to bring your manners as you never know when you will stumble upon a campesino working. With a friendly greeting and a bit of small talk they are always willing to help you along your way.
There is no such thing as “too remote” for a village in Guatemala. Roads begin and end in the middle of nowhere- cuttoff by enormous landslides. The infrastructure of the country is webed together in a unofficial transportation network of Tuk-Tuks, Chicken buses, Fletes (trucks) and pickups. You never have to wait more than 15minutes for a ride in Guatemala, and more likely than not they will ask you first.
Guatemala is a living anthropological site with an incredible diversity of people and culture. 80% of the population is indigenous and for many spanish is a second language. The density of tribes here is profound. At lake Atitlan it is not uncommon to run into a different traje or traditional clothes from one town to the next – each village speaking their own distinctive language.
Guatemala! Pura Utz Pin Pin!
Land of Volcanoes
The bikes were outfitted with custom made bikepacking equipment by Mayasak in Panajachel.
Nutritional and hydration support provided by SkratchLabs out of Colorado.
Photography equipment including Panasonic Lumix Micro 4/3rds cameras.