Being a part of Guatemala’s tourism industry means we frequently hear the safety concerns people have about the country. With the news that makes headlines abroad, it’s easy for people to be anxious about travelling here. Given that we have an ethical travel program, it is evident we support travel in certain areas of Guatemala, but we understand that before exploring any new territory, precautions need to be kept. If you are apprehensive about visiting Guatemala, as a few of our employees and volunteers have also been, this post will be your guide to understanding how you too can travel a wonderful country, safely and full of enjoyment.
In recent decades the world has seen tourism’s effects, both good and bad, on remote villages, beach destinations, and cities around the world. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in 2017 there were 1.323 billion international tourists arrivals worldwide, with a growth of 6.8% from 2016. In recent decades the desire for greater good, social and environmental sustainability has entered the mainstream with tourists wanting experiences that are authentic, unique and make a positive impact. However, with a rise in sustainable tourism, organizations and regulations are popping up in hopes to protect the environmental integrity, social justice, and economic development. We have also seen new modes of tourism come into popular public conscious. Terms like: responsible, sustainable, eco, ethical, green, volunteer, etc. have become a trend in travel, creating an enlightened sense of responsibility while abroad.
I learned long ago that I am not at the center of the universe, but Ix Chel, the Mayan Goddess of Weaving and her drop spindle, are. Also the goddess of fertility and procreation, representing female empowerment, Ix Chel is said to have founded the city of Palenque and set the universe in motion, introducing weaving to all her people. Weaving has since been passed down from mother to daughter, each generation passing the baton to the next, helping to keep the spirit and culture of weaving alive. Ix Chel is often pictured in traditional Mayan textiles, still being produced in remote areas of Guatemala today.
Before tuk tuks and motorbikes, there was the traje. Originally put into law by the Spaniards, the traje helped to identify the indigenous peoples communities for tax collection purposes. Today, stories of community, religion, history and identity are written into the clothing with symbolic colors and designs.
The traje is made up of three components: huipil (blouse), corte (skirt), and faja (belt), all of which are made by hand on the backstrap loom using techniques passed down from mother to daughter since the 1520s. To gain a better idea of the intricate patterns and techniques used over the decades, below are just some of the more common methods that have been perfected by our artisan partners.
Hi, my name is Daphne and I’m from the Netherlands. Ever since I was a little girl I have been passionate about traveling. I’ve spent most of my life fighting an incurable case of wanderlust.
I studied ‘International Tourism Management’ for the last four years and currently I am earning a ‘Master of Science in Tourism, Leisure and Environment’ in the Netherlands.
As I prepare to graduate in June 2019, I am fulfilling a Communication and Research Internship at Maya Traditions Foundation where I can pursue my passion of researching responsible tourism development and creating awareness of cultural preservation. As part of my internship here, I work with the communication department with daily tasks and responsibilities, do research on marketing and ethical tourism travel and help with ongoing projects in the social programs. One of the projects I got to help with this month is the bed project in Quiejel.
The giving chain started with friends and family of Tracey Stewart, a long time volunteer with OUR Guatemala: Travel with Purpose, who donated the beds in memory of her.