Hola! It's great to get to speak to all of you here from Guatemala, a country full of nature, volcanoes, tropical forests and ancient Mayan sites. The picture above is of course my family! Normally we get together to walk, run or swim, we go to different places around my town; we're very close to each other and fortunately get to spend a lot of time with each other.

I was born in a town called "Jocotenango" which is divided into two words "Jocote" that is a bittersweet fruit and "nango" which means in the Nahualt language "place of." Today it is a municipality, thanks to its large population; it is visited by many for its handicrafts made using wood as raw material (fruits, vegetables, dishes, glasses, etc.). Furthermore, coffee is a major product grown here since Jocotenango is surrounded by many mountains with the ideal climate for that purpose. Of note is the baroque style church, Solomonic columns and in the town's central park a baroque style fountain making a set of contrast with the color of the church.

My town was rural for a long time; cows were raised, men rode horses, corn and beans were cultivated, it was the stopover town for the conquerors to look for women to feed their children. It is a small town in territory, (nine square kilometers) and large in population, thanks to the often demanding overcrowding, many places for community housing have been built, especially for its location as it is close to everything, (hospital, market, city etc.) that way my town has become a desired place for many to live. Now you have easy access to banks, restaurants, supermarkets, it is a very commercial growing town.

I have a family with a sporty and creative spirit, during our free time we like to hike in the mountains where there are different natural sources of fresh water. I love to watch group sports, but I prefer to exercise outdoors for meditation and relaxation. My family and I are lovers of walking and running. We also visit different places around town, just get out and enjoy the people in town. At night I like to read before heading to bed. I also love cooking and I love spending time preparing typical foods of my region, my food favorite is the pepián, but I also enjoy international food, especially Italian. I am admittedly addicted to cheese.

Note from the editors: check out this video on how to make pepián!

When I get visitors I love to cook a three-meat pepián, accompanied with white rice, and tamales instead of tortillas. We are a country with many rich foods, among which I could mention them to be savored, Creole chicken broth, duck or chicken stew (the Creole hen and the home-grown Creole duck), hilachas, chuchitos, special tamales and a series of hot drinks such as fruit juice (punch), white atol, corn atoll, rice pudding , atol de haba all these atoles are usually drunk accompanied by tostadas, tacos or doubled all accompanied by guacamol, tomato sauce, dry cheese and chili to taste. Normally, families gather at four in the afternoon in the central town park (central parks are common throughout Latin America), eating some of the foods I mentioned and just enjoying the afternoon.

Among some towns that I would recommend visiting if you come to Guatemala would be San Pedro las Huertas, San Juan del Obispo, and Parramos. Be sure to also consider the fountains in Quetzaltenango Semuc chanpey, a horseback ride through the cocoa plantations in Cobán, a weekend trip through the volcanoes of Acatenango and Fuego, a visit to the Chichicastenango market and its different Mayan religious altars, a trip to the natural reserves in Izabal, "the shells" the seven altars in Izabal. In short, we have many beautiful places with a variety of nature and ecosystems.

Panajachel, Guatemala

During my time as a teacher, a job that I started from the age of nineteen, I have had the joy of meeting people all over the world, and helping them learn Spanish. I enjoy working in education because I see that when we learn other cultures, we become more intellectually curios about the world. We make learning a lifelong goal, and that truly is a great way to live life.

Despite the fact that my country and many in Central America are experiencing difficulties, economic, political, and social, thousands of people from different parts of the world visit us especially for our still very well preserved culture and our values. We still learn at home to say thanks for food, good morning, afternoon or evening with a smile and we make our visitors feel at home. I recommend that if you are visiting a Spanish-speaking country to of course learn some of the language, get involved in local society, experience different foods, learn how people live. Try to stray a little away from your group if you're travelling with a tour group. Your language skills will improve; aim to memorize a group of words that you can really learn, memorize and put into practice in normal daily conversation, take a few minutes at night or during your free time to walk alone exploring and repeating important words. Try talking with locals! We love to speak to people visiting, and it's the best way for you to practice.

Thank you for reading, and I hope to see you in Guatemala sometime soon!

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