From the Mayans and the conquistadors, through to independence and civil wars, Guatemala has had a violent and tumultuous history. This has forged its culture through fire and you see it everywhere you look. Reflections of each of these epochs stare back it you from every direction.
Women carry babies on their backs and baskets on their heads. Traditional Mayan clothing, in all their glorious colors, dot the landscape as men and women work their crops on the mountainsides. Men return from the US looking for jobs after being expelled during the civil wars. Shirts from Adidas and Abercrombie & Fitch are starting to appear. Old US school buses, painted a whole rainbow of colors, careen down mountainsides picking up passengers as they go.
All these differing ideas clash and merge, pulsing with life. Guatemala’s a country discovering its identity, but still has an identity.
This photograph is on La Muela (The Molar). It was a sacred place for the Mayans and has slowly transformed into a Judeo-Christian site. I came up here to go rock climbing, but the Guatemalans pilgrimage to this mountain to be closer (symbolically and spiritually) to God. They sing, lament, baptize, meditate, and pray. Some camp out on the mountain for days.
As I looked around me I could see how you can feel closer to God in a place like this. And I could feel the Guatemalan culture surrounding me.