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.
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.
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.