This is our interview of the month February with Ivonne! Every month we interview another traveler about their adventures and talk about different travel related subjects. Ivonne is a traveler that wants to contribute to her home country Guatemala and does so in many ways. For instance in this interview, where she wants to share a little wisdom with us by giving useful tips for people that are planning to visit her home country.
Are you interested to be featured in our Interview of the Month series too? Please sent us an e-mail to [email protected] with a little introduction about yourself.
Lisanne from CHAPTERTRAVEL: Hi Ivonne, thank you for your time. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Ivonne: ¡Hola! My name is Ivonne, I am 26 years old and I am a proud to be from the eternal spring land Guatemala, located in Central America. Currently I am living in Guatemala City. I have a bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences, a Master’s degree in Corporate Communication and have work experience in Public Relations and Internal Communication. One of my passions is a nonprofit organization, which works in education and entrepreneurship for young people from Latin America. I worked as a volunteer in fundraising and PR during several years, and hope to continue again this year.
I am passionate about my country, my culture, traveling, dogs, taking pictures – of course for Instagram ;), and working for a better future for my country.
What are some of your latest travels?
Last year I decided to move to Spain to get my Master´s degree, so I had the chance to travel through Europe. I visited parts of Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Portugal, Belgium and Morocco. But my most recent trip was to Atitlán Guatemala, definitely one of the most beautiful places on earth. And I also recently visited Volcán Acatenango, which is the third highest volcano in Central America!
Do you have any new travel plans in the near future?
This year I want to keep traveling in Guatemala, because I still have lots of places to visit. For instance, Hun Nal Ye, Semuc Champey (for the second time), Cráter Azul in Sayaxché Petén, Setzol, Las Conchas, El Boquerón and definitely one more visit to Tikal, Petén.
I also want to travel to Nicaragua, because my former roomate lives there. Furthermore, I would like to go to South America soon, because I have never been there.
What was the best destination you ever traveled to?
I truly don’t know. I believe every place has its own magic, but one of my favorite places are Prague, Florence, Granada, Oporto, Morocco and Antigua Guatemala.
What is your favorite thing about traveling?
What I love most about traveling is being out of my comfort zone. That truly teaches you that you are not alone in this world, not everything relies in your circle of friends. There’s so much to see out there! Another thing I love is learning about the different cultures and habits people have around the globe.
You recently lived in Madrid, how was it living there as an expat?
I decided to get my Master’s degree in Spain, because I wanted to live on my own for the first time. I have always lived with my parents and my brothers. Thus, this was a big change for me. It was definitely the best choice I have ever made.
Madrid is a friendly city and it is full of people from all over the world, so living as a foreign student was nice and easy. It is obviously a shock when you start to notice the different customs and habits, but that’s when you learn to adapt and accept other’s opinions and cultures.
Do you have tips for people that would like to live as an expat (in Madrid)?
Yes. Do it! Don’t be afraid of being alone or of other languages. And most importantly, don’t be afraid of change. One of the best tips would be to read about Madrid, the things you have to do as an expat and you are done. Overall, it is a very friendly city for anyone.
What is your favorite thing about your country?
What I love most about Guatemala is the traditional food, the multi-color textiles and our colonial city. And let’s not forget the Mayan ruins, the views of volcanoes everywhere you go, the places Guatemala offers you to visit, but most of all: it’s people.
Are there things you dislike about Guatemala?
Yes. There are many things I don’t like about my country. But since I moved to Spain I came up with this philosophy in my life, which is that I don’t talk bad things about my country or Guatemalans. I truly want only positive vibes for my Guatemala. That is the way we can start to change people’s minds and become a better country.
If someone is traveling to Guatemala, what can’t they miss?
I made a little list! If you are coming to Guatemala these are the things and places you can’t miss:
- Visit our former capital, Antigua Guatemala (old Guatemala), where you’ll wander in cobble stone streets, colorful markets, colonial architecture, museums, plenty of restaurants and volcano views everywhere.
- Guatemala is the heart of the Mayan culture. Tikal is a national park, which has amazing and huge mayan ruins, with lots of wild animals and incredible views. An experience you don’t wanna miss!
- Semuc Champey consists of a natural limestone bridge, the Cahabón River and a series of turquoise pools.
- One of my favorite places on Earth is lake Atitlán, is located in Sololá, Guatemala and has lots of little towns around it with different cultures and customs.
- Our traditional dishes! Guatemala has delicious food, from tostadas with black beans, avocado or salsa to more elaborate plates like Kak ik, Pepián, tamales, fiambre and many more.
- Guatemala has 34 volcanoes, so not only do you get to see them everywhere you go, but you can also hike them. If you are not very athletic you can hike the Pacaya or Ipala.
- Chichicastenango has one of the most famous indigenous markets, it is full of colors, textiles, food, and culture.
- If you come to Guatemala in November, don’t hesitate to visit the most famous kite festival in our country: the Sumpango Kite Festival. This is most likely known as the Giant Kite Festival, which is celebrated on November 1st. This is when we celebrate the Day of the Dead or Día de los Muertos. You’ll see beautiful kites that go from 5 to 20 meters high and are handmade. Around this time we also eat the traditional dish Fiambre. This dish consists of a cold salad made up from over 50 ingredients and it is prepared around 3 days before.
- Or try our micheladas, a famous drink in Central America and Mexico. It contains beer, lime juice, assorted sauces, spices and sometimes even chile. Perfect when you have a hangover, but it is also delicious any other day.
Thank you for all those tips! Just one more question before you go: Any other tips for people traveling to Guatemala for the first time?
Here are 5 things you should know before traveling to Guatemala
- We will make you feel welcome.
- You will end up eating corn tortillas with avocado or fried black beans every single day.
- You will be fascinated with our multi color textiles, handmade products and artisans.
- You will have volcano views, hike volcanoes, walk through forests, jungles, see monkeys and learn about the Mayan culture.
- You will come back.