The Central American country of Guatemala has been a place of Mesoamerican and Mayan civilizations. Mayan languages and inhabitants remain, along with impressive ruins such as Tikal. A brutal 50-year civil war caused some indigenous people to blend in, in an attempt to avoid persecution. Lake Atitlín and surrounding villages in the highlands are a major tourist draw. Todos Santos Cuchumatín is a remote village at high altitude with amazing views, where Mam Mayans speak their own language and wear traditional garb. A trip up the Pacaya volcano or over to the beautiful lakes and waterfalls of Semuc Champey in Alta Verapaz are worth the effort if you need some natural sights.
Guatemalan food often features corn, beans, avocados, and plantains. Poultry is prepared in some wonderful ways, like chicken pepiín, which can include cinnamon, chocolate and/or pumpkin seeds. Kak’ik is a Q’eqchi’ Mayan soup made from turkey legs; other ingredients are tomatoes, tomatillos, chiles, achiote paste, and cilantro. Tamales are popular and varied. In places like Panajachel and Antigua, which attract many tourists, you can find vegetarian-friendly Guatemalan, Thai, or Middle Eastern food. There are even vegetarian Italian and vegan German restaurants. For natural foods stores, Antigua is your best place. Throughout the country you can get licuados, refreshing fruit drinks that usually contain milk and/or yogurt along with sugar, but they can be varied. Try mora (blackberry), papaya or parcha/maracuya (both terms mean passion fruit). ┬íDelicioso!