I've been to Guatemala many times while making tv shows for NBC Sports. I've grown to love the people and their endless buffet of photo opportunities. The country offers georgeous black beaches, volcanoes, jungles, and ancient cobblestone cities. Typically, my adventures in Central America start in Guatemala City. I've only toured the city a few times because I'm always rushing from the airport, down the coast or up to the enchanting city surrounded by volcanes, Antigua. I love this place. There are some amazing hotels around this city. Antigua is literally surrounded by volcanoes and is known as the first capitol city of all the Americas. They do still have armed gaurds all over the place but that's a remnant of their post civil-war posturing. It's generally a safe place to visit but as with any foreign adventure it's good to stay aware of your surroundings and make good decisions regarding your safety.
They are mostly a spanish speaking population. They are always trying to increase tourism, especially from the US so you can find good travel deals if you dig. From a guy who likes to play, they have some of the most incredible golf courses. I did a job once where we rented a helicoptor and shot areals around a golf course near a volcano. My road brother Danny Kirsic and I pulled off the doors and made a harness. He was hanging out one side and I hung out the other. It was incredible to see this farm rich country from the areal perspective. The soil is perfectly suited for sugar cane production. Among the best restaurants in the world, as far as I see it, is "Panse Verde" and it's in the heart of Antigua. Beautifully decorated, this place celebrates culinary genius and every dish is picture worthy. I asked the chef to create a dish that best represents what they consider defines their culture and he brought seared Ahi tuna strips with fruit salad. Amazing!
When I go on an adventure like this one, I like to spend a lot of time in the local markets around town. In addition to finding unique art and collectibles from the area, it's a good way to meet locals and get a feel for the things they like to do.
Below is an image I took of an old monastery. This is one of the oldest buildings in Central America.
The people are the finest ingredient of this country. It's always fun to get to know some of the local artist's who create their work for tourist. Doing a variety of productions around Guatemala, I have learned how resourceful they can be. Every production seems to have a series of "needs". I would have at least one encounter every day where a local person would go out of their way to accomodate my needs... and expect nothing in return. It's always good to get a feel for a location and meet a few locals before I get serious about taking pictures. This lady was selling a few trinkets just outside the airport. The sunset light was so soft and contrasty under this bridge where she set up shop. I bought a few little things then took her picture. It gives me great personal satisfaction when I capture a sense of emotion in a portrait like hers. If you like to travel off the beaten path, I highly recommend you visit Guatemala! Of all the places I recommend you go in Central America, try the Casa Vieja Lodge. They pick you up at the airport and take great care of you. They have a fleet of sportboats to take you fishing and a wonderful small hotel down near the coast at Port San Jose. When you come in from a long day exploring the region, they have 5 Star dining and their customer service is second to none! Bienvenidos Guatemala!