The morning sun has barely peeked up, but Antigua’s Mayan farmers’ market is already swarming with action, a chaotic kaleidoscope of vendors in vivid traditional clothing selling their produce. Guiding me through the Technicolor maze, chef Kenny Aldana points out neon-orange cashew fruit; avocados, mangoes and melons of all sizes and shapes; edible flowers; fresh fish; and meats including bizarre displays of dried iguanas.
Bags filled, we return to the El Convento boutique hotel where Aldana holds court in the kitchen. At noon he delivers a market-sourced gourmet feast — chicken bathed in a luscious sauce of pepitoria (traditional roasted and ground squash seeds) with local izote flowers, baby zucchinis and a slice of jicama-like ichuntal lightly battered and fried, perched in a puddle of tomato puree with mild chile. Each flavor is astonishingly rich and strong.
Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Colombian Mayan civilization. It is our 8th stop in the series Journeys to Discovery.
Located in the archaeological region of the Peten Basin in northern Guatemala, this thriving cosmopolitan city, would be rediscovered in the mid 19th century. It had been completely covered by the jungle for centuries.
Tikal is situated in the department of El Peten. Today, the site is part of Guatemala’s Tikal National Park and as of 1979, was declared aUNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tikal was the capital city of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Mayan civilization.
Although there is impressive architectural structures that can be dated as far back as the 4thcentury BCE, Tikal would reach the height of its power and influence, during the centuries stretching from 200 to 900 CE.
Recently, the obsession with beauty and colour palettes have given the rise to colour filters – from Instagram to Facebook to Snapchat, all of our social media platforms are consistently working on providing the perfect shade or colour.
In a world where filter-less pictures cease to exist, here are the 11 most colourful and beautiful places in the world where nature has painted the world, and no expertise in Photoshop can even come close.
1. Tulip fields, Holland
The tulip fields of Holland aren’t known for just one flower, they are also famous for their daffodils and hyacinths. But the tulips are the creme de la creme of these fields. The colours along the water and the Dutch countryside remind you of an innocent colouring book with splashes of colourful crayons. These fields are best explored on bicycles.
In a world where phones offer a filter, sticker or effect for every photo, images can become more dramatic than the real thing.
But there are still places that even Photoshop can’t improve on, where nature’s palette concocts colors that seem unreal, or where designers have turned ordinary neighborhoods into wonderlands.
Here are 25 of the world’s most colorful places. No filter necessary.
1. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Large enough to be seen from space, the colors of the Great Barrier Reef are glorious enough to challenge Pixar animators.
The coral reefs and islands stretch 2,300 kilometers long, but it’s not just the coral that delights.
The fish add swirls of their own hues as they feed and make their homes there. The reef has become less colorful, though, as warming seas have killed off the coral which are profoundly attuned to ocean temperatures.
At my feet, the name “Lucio” is marked atop a dirt grave but I doubt he’s RIP right now. I’m in a rural cemetery in Guatemala, encircled by a kaleidoscope of colossal five-story-tall kites and throngs of festive mourners. They’re using the fluttering tissue-paper conduits to communicate with the dead. Firecrackers explode and onlookers raucously cheer as multicolored mosaic-like kites — too huge to fly — are hoisted upright by strong young men at the All Saints Day Kite Festival.
It is an extraordinary age-old spiritual spectacle. Guatemala is the only country in the world that on the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead-Nov. 1), launches dazzling hand-made kites hoping to coax ancestors briefly back to Earth.
Guatemala’s variety of landscape and villages has much to offer to visitors. It strikes the right balance between providing sufficient accommodation to fulfill the needs of tourists, while still maintaining much of the natural beauty that the land has to offer. With some locations designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you can be sure that Guatemala’s rich history has many stories behind the places you visit.
1. Ruins of Tikal
There are many ruins to see in Central America but if you want the most grandiose, then Tikal is the place. It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in the northern region of Guatemala. Depending on where you are, it may even make more sense to visit by crossing the border from Belize or Mexico. If you are stationed in the heart of Guatemala, like Antigua, you can easily book tour there.
On a tour through Guatemala, JS photo editor Gretchen Moosbrugger discovers ancient Mayan towns, artisan markets, and some of the most gorgeous landscapes in Central America.
Just an hour’s drive from Guatemala City, Antigua will not disappoint. The historic city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with several-hundred year old Spanish Colonial buildings, bougainvillea draped streets, and is surrounded by volcanoes.
Check into Menson Panza Verde, a boutique hotel that is utterly romantic. The 12-room Guatemalan icon is complete with a yoga studio, art gallery, lap pool, live music, and award winning restaurant. Climb the ivy-covered staircase to take in vast city views from Panza Verde’s roof terrace.
From the top of a Maya pyramid, the view of the jungle and other pyramids was something I had imagined other adventure travelers witnessing, not me. But I was here with the help of encouraging guides and a man-made staircase alongside the ancient structure. It was from this vantage point that George Lucas filmed scenes for his first Star Wars movie in 1977.
I sat for a long time taking in the magic of the moment. Magic is actually a perfect word for Guatemala, the Maya Culture and Tikal National Park located almost 200 miles north of Guatemala City. Visiting the ruins of the ancient city was one of many Maya discoveries I made with Bella Guatemala Travel, a California-based tour company specializing in Guatemala culture, history, and natural beauty.
Antigua’s colonial monuments, Tikal’s jungle and Mayan structures, and Quirigua’s ruins have been inscribed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Antigua’s colonial monuments, Tikal’s jungle and Mayan structures, and Quirigua’s ruins have been inscribed as World Heritage by the UNESCO mainly because of the intact integrity of ancient history that is part of these sites. For example, Antigua Guatemala has many monuments and ruins dating as far as the eighth century. These ruins still stand as if untouched by generations of dynasties and human populations. The Tikal National Park represents an excellent attribute of nature where pyramids, palaces, churches, squares, and other structures exist peaceful in a quiet environment. Quirigua Ruins and Archaeological Park is a jungle-like place where history is recorded in the form of buildings that rose and fell in the Maya civilization.