Sat, Aug 04, 2007 - Page 14 News List

Globe trotting -- Guatemala 世界走透透: 瓜地馬拉


A troubled and violent past contrasts greatly with Guatemala's beautiful scenery. Over half of Guatemalans are descended from indigenous Mayans, and a number of ancient Mayan ruins dot the countryside.


A closer look 說古論今

Racing along on narrow mountain cliffs, tourists always seem to feel the end is near when riding on "chicken buses," the old, rundown American school buses used for intercity travel. But Guatemalans, accustomed to the dangers of living, seem to take the journey in their stride. This comes as little surprise when one considers that a 36-year old civil war that left over 200,000 people, most of them civilians, killed or disappeared came to an end in 1996. The army, aided by the US government, was responsible for most of the killing.

Guatemalans mindful of those atrocities are trying to move past them. Today Guatemala is a representative democracy. There are still many problems - violent crime and corruption run rampant and the unemployment rate is high. But tourists, no longer fearful of being trapped in the middle of a war, have begun coming again to take a look at Guatemala's beautiful scenery.

Lying in Guatemala's southwest is Lake Atitlan, which English author Aldous Huxley described as the most beautiful lake in the world. Nearby is Antigua, a colonial city full of Baroque splendor. In the northern part of the country is Tikal, the largest ancient Mayan ruins in the world.

And of course there's Guatemala City, the country's largest city and capital. Protests that happen in front of the presidential palace usually end peacefully, something that would have been almost unheard of two decades ago. Life in Guatemala has improved, even though the buses could still use an upgrade.



瓜地馬拉西南部的阿提蘭湖,曾被英國作家赫胥黎形容為世界上最美的湖泊。附近的殖民大城安地瓜充滿巴洛克風情。座落於該國北部的地卡則是全球最大的古馬雅遺跡 。


WHO KNEW? 你知道嗎?

Once a year the devil visits Guatemala and is quickly cast into flames. On December 7, Guatemalans use household trash to make enormous bonfires in the streets. Effigies of the devil are burnt, and people dressed up as "el diablo" (the devil ) chase children who run for safety.

Referred to as "Quema del Diablo," which translates as "Burning of the Devil," the festival happens annually on December 7 as a prelude to Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Roman Catholic holiday to celebrate Mary being conceived free of original sin.

The Guatemalan magazine Revue states that the festival originated in colonial times when people put out lanterns the evening before Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Poorer residents who couldn't afford lanterns but wanted to mark the occasion built bonfires in the streets.


每年十二月七日驅鬼的活動,為聖母無原罪瞻禮的節日揭開序幕。這個天主教節日是用來慶祝聖母瑪利亞不受原罪的影響。瓜國的Revue 雜誌說該節慶源自於殖民時期,當時人們在節日前一晚會掛起燈籠,買不起燈籠又想參與盛會的窮人們則會在街上生火。


1. I really want a car, but I only have NT$50,000 saved up. It looks like I'm going to have to buy a rundown vehicle.

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