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Teaching My Kids About Their Country And Their Roots Through Travel

Lake Atitlan Guatemala

Lake Atitlan Guatemala

As a Guatemalan living in the United States I find myself always trying to find ways maintain our culture alive at home.  We celebrate Guatemalan holidays, cook Guatemalan food and stay in touch with our family in Guatemala. I also love to share with my children stories about my adventures as a child and later as an adult exploring Mayan ruins in Tikal, whitewater rafting in the Cahabón river, swimming in the sacred pools of Semuc Champey or climbing the Pacaya volcano.  But nothing can teach them about the culture, the food and their home country like traveling back to your country!

Guatemalan maya woman in the town of San Antonio Palopó on the shores of Lake Atitlan

Guatemalan maya woman in the town of San Antonio Palopó on the shores of Lake Atitlan

We moved to the United States when both of my kids where very young: Sebastian was only 3 months and Ariane was almost 3 years old.  We had not had the opportunity to go back until last year when we visited for two weeks during Christmas.  While we where there we spent time with family and every day was filled with new adventures, new experiences and new foods as they got reacquainted with the country they where born in.

Participating in a posada in Guatemala with family and friends

Participating in a posada in Guatemala with family and friends

On our trip we created unforgettable memories as we traveled around Guatemala, each moment was so memorable and so meaningful because besides the fact that we where having fun and visiting beautiful locations every place had a special meaning for me and I was able to share this with my children.

Lake Atitlán in Guatemala is truly a magical place

Lake Atitlán in Guatemala is truly a magical place.

We started by visiting Atitlán where we all fell into the magic spell of one of the most beautiful lakes in the world as we visited mayan towns on it’s shores and got to see how the indigenous cultures of Guatemala still life like they did hundreds of years ago. Here the kids learned about the Mayan culture, learned about pottery and weaving and met new friends and got to see the natural beauty of their country first hand.

Making new friends in Santa Catarina Palopó on the shores of Lake Atitlán.

Making new friends in Santa Catarina Palopó on the shores of Lake Atitlán.

We then headed to the Colonial City of Antigua Guatemala where the kids got to learn about the history of their country as they where transported back in time walking along the cobble stone streets of a city that has withstood the test of time and remains much like it did in the 1700’s.

Antigua Guatemala, view of the Catedral and the Parque Central

Antigua Guatemala, view of the Catedral and the Parque Central

We ended our trip visiting the black sand beaches in Guatemala’s Pacific coast. Where the kids got to enjoy the wild side of Guatemala and came face to face with it’s natural beauty.

Guatemala's black sand beaches in the Pacific coast

Guatemala’s black sand beaches in the Pacific coast

One of the most special moments for me was getting to participate in all of the family traditions. Each year the whole family takes a picture with Santa Clause, we’ve been taking the same family picture with the same Santa for about 20 years now and for the last 6 years my husband, me and my kids had not been in the family picture. But this year we got to take the picture all together, including grandpa and it was a wonderful moment!

Participating in a Christmas family tradition

Participating in a Christmas family tradition.

About the author

Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

Paula moved from her native Guatemala to SW Florida with her husband and two children and together they are discovering what it means to live life between two languages.

Paula studied architecture who now makes a living as a freelance writer, traveler and amateur photographer. She started her writing & publishing career as the editor of Bebé y Mamá, the first parenting magazine in Guatemala. She is the founder of www.GrowingUpBilingual.com and www.365thingsswfl.com and writes articles in Spanish and English for both magazines and the web on travel, food and bicultural and bilingual parenting .

When she is not on a plane or road trip she likes to create recipes inspired in the flavors of her native Guatemala.

Permanent link to this article: http://growingupbilingual.com/2016/latino-parenting/teaching-kids-country-roots-travel/

1 comment

  1. Juan Manuel Diaz

    Felicidades por tu pagina de internet. Es muy refrescante ver nuestro pais desde otro punto que no sea solo el de vendedores. Sigue adelante.
    Hay muchos mas lugares hermosos en Guatemala que merecen ser mencionados, Hul Nan ye, Livingston, Quirigua, la biospera del quetzal, Rio dulce, Quetzaltenango, Retalulehu, Esquipulas, etc. Ya que otros sitios de internet solo hablan de los sitios de mas atraccion, sin saber que hay muchos mas que merecen la pena visitor.
    Saludos a ti y a Cesar, de parte de su tio Juan.

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