Sometimes in life, you have to go back to truly appreciate the beauty around you. Well, that is exactly what happened to me. A couple of years ago I attended an annual conference in Mexico. In case you didn’t know yet, I am a lover of all things travel and cultures, so as the social butterfly that I can be during industry events, I met a group of people that caught my attention amongst the 400 attendees. This was a small group of people that were representing Guatemala at the trade show. I must admit, even as a Latino I was not very familiar with Guatemala, other than being a mega fan of Guatemalan singer and songwriter, Ricardo Arjona. Anyways, we clicked, they adopted me for the remainder of the convention and a friendship was born. Last year, I was honored to travel to Guatemala for the first time as a guest of my friend Nestor and I truly enjoyed the experience and will be forever grateful for the hospitality received as they proudly showed me their country.
This year, after receiving an invitation to be a part of the educators during a certification for local wedding professionals I jumped for joy and could not believe I would have the honor to return so soon.
This is the second time I want to talk to you about. What can I say? WOW! That was my expression during the 10 day immersion in the country and culture while participating in Guatemala Romantica.
We started the trip by flying into La Aurora International Airport, and spent the night in Guatemala City at the Adriatika Boutique Hotel. The next morning we headed to the venue where the full day certification took place. As part of the IADWP and Inguat program, myself and 4 other Speakers from USA certified 110 Wedding Industry Professionals from the city and its surrounding areas about the needs and dynamics of working with North American Destination Wedding Couples. I think I can speak for all the speakers and tell you that we fell in love with the group, their energy, their feedback and their passion for the wedding industry but this first day, my friends, was just the beginning of what has been the best trip of my life, to this date.
We wrapped up their certification and began the journey to become certified on all things Destination Weddings in Guatemala. The next day we caught a 5:00 AM flight from La Aurora Intl Airport to Mundo Maya Int Airport in Petén. This was a 45 minute journey to tour a couple of boutique hotels, explore Tikal National Park and hike a few of these Mayan pyramids and visit Isla de Flores. Rain and Shine, it was a fantastic experience exploring this historical site and seeing the Jaguar temple.
Our next stop was Antigua, Guatemala. Think small town Europe with charming cobblestone streets, gorgeous historical ruins and temples that date back to 400+ years and double up as the most exclusive wedding and social event venues, breathtaking views of the Volcanoes that surround the city contrasting with the colorful colonial style architecture, luxurious boutique hotels, delicious cuisine at every turn and to my surprise, some of the friendliest people and best customer service I’ve experienced at any destination. Antigua has now become one of my favorite cities in the world and 4 nights was not enough so I will be booking my return flight soon.
With such an amazing experience where could they take us next that would live up to Antigua? Ha! I am glad you asked. We departed Antigua and made a few stops along the way that are worth mentioning. The first being a walking tour of Iximche, beautiful grounds and history but the highlight was a real Mayan ceremony performed by a Mayan Priest: Paula. I have always been attracted to spirituality and that ceremony sealed the deal for me. Among other things I learned that my Mayan Nahual is “Toj” and its animal is the shark. My favorite part was learning that my source of energy is the Sun, so those of us born under “Toj” get to speak to the source and feed our soul twice a day, at Sunrise and at Sunset; this makes SO much sense to me. We left Iximche and stopped for lunch at Finca la Vision. Loved everything about that event.
After a long day on the road we arrived to the mystical Lake Atitlán. I promise if you were dropped off here with your eyes closed you would never guess you landed in Central America. WOW! That was the response from our group of 30 guests. Spending the night with the views of the 3 volcanoes and waking up overlooking a lush garden with the zen of the lake is one of the sexiest views I’ve woken up to.
It was hard to leave this view but a full day of adventure awaited us across the lake as we visited San Juan Las Lagunas, one of the 12 towns around the lake. We witness the process of how the locals make art with their hands in the shape of gorgeous scarfs, bags and colorful outfits all from cotton and color creation from natural trees and fruits. Sealed that deal with mandatory shopping.
Thank you for following my 10 day journey through Guatemala and enjoy some of the pictures and I will share more in future posts specific to each destinations.
Until next time!