Sat, Aug 04, 2007 - Page 14 News List

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

STAFF WRITER

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.

瓜地馬拉動盪且殘暴的過去,和美麗的風景形成強烈對比。該國超過一半人口是馬雅原住民的後代,許多馬雅遺跡仍散佈於鄉間。

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.

每當由破舊的美式校車改裝的野雞車飛馳在狹窄的山崖邊,在當地各城市旅遊的乘客們總覺得自己快死了。但瓜地馬拉人早已習慣危險,把它當成生活的一部分。只要想到長達三十六年、造成超過二十萬平民死亡或失蹤的內戰直到一九九六年才結束,你就不會覺得太驚訝了,而由美國政府援助的軍隊則該為此屠殺負最大責任。

瓜地馬拉人正試著要忘記那些暴行,今日的瓜國是個代議制的民主國家,雖然許多問題仍然存在,例如猖獗的犯罪和貪污,及高失業率。但遊客不再害怕會身陷戰區,他們開始再次造訪欣賞美麗的風光。

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 。

當然啦,還有該國最大城兼首都-瓜地馬拉市。在總統府前的抗議活動通常以和平收場,這是在二十年前所從未聽聞的現象。雖然野雞車的品質有待提升,瓜國的生活已經改善了。(翻譯:張愛弟)

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.

每年惡魔都會降臨瓜地馬拉,並迅速被丟進火裡。就在十二月七日,瓜地馬拉人都會用家裡的垃圾在街上生起大火,魔鬼的肖像就會被燒掉,打扮成魔鬼的人則會追著小孩子跑。

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。

A LOOK AT CONTEXT 思前想後猜字義

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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