A look behind the lens of photographer and travel writer Al Argueta
It’s a quick 75-minute-flight from San Jose, Costa Rica (where I recently wrapped up a week on holiday) to Guatemala City. What first strikes me upon seeing Guatemala from the airplane window is how different the two cities are. Guatemala, from the air, looks more like Maine in summertime than Central America.
Lately, I’ve been inspired by this city’s skyline and dramatic volcanic backdrop. Both views were captured from a hillside on the eastern end of the city just before it melts into affluent surburbia.
It’s not exactly the small town of tin-roofed one-story houses and banana palms most people picture when they think of Central American capitals. But perceptions are changing fast as capitals such as Panama City and Guatemala City gain recognition for the level of international sophistication they afford while continuing to pulse with authentic local culture.
Guatemala’s capital city is the perfect place to begin (and cap off) an exploration of this fascinating country. In Guatemala and neighboring Belize, travelers find an array of inspiring and invigorating things to do on vacation as well as ample opportunities to take a breather from the everyday.
Manuel Romero-Close, owner of Guatemala City’s most popular backpacker haven recently posted on Facebook: “Lovely afternoon… perfect weather… at least a dozen people at the Quetzalrooftop sharing beers and laughs and talking about how awesome their Guate trip was… You should see it…” You’ll find most people who’ve traveled to this region of Central America will echo Manuel. They start to tell you how incredible it was, find words fail them, and trail off into a “you should see it.”
In this photo, the 12,000-foot Volcán de Agua rises up from the surrounding topography and into the clouds. Lucy Hughes-Hallett, a writer for Conde Nast Traveler with whom I traveled to Guatemala earlier this year, perfectly describes Guatemala’s volcanoes as “…looking absurdly like volcanos drawn by a small child, or by Hokusai, perfect cones rising straight out of the lush plain that stretches down to the Pacific.”