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What do Wyoming and Guatemala have in common?

La Antigua, Guatemala

View Around the World! - Part 1 on Where2FromHere's travel map.

Our travels took us to La Antigua, Guatemala in the central highlands of Guatemala. It was once the most prominent seat of Spanish colonial government in this area and served as Guatemala’s capital for almost 300 years from 1543 through 1773. It was abandoned following a series of devastating volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and floods. Today, it is a vibrant town offering access to a myriad of activities and is known for its well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture, including numerous churches and monasteries, and its picturesque setting at the base of towering volcanoes.




Who would have thought our state of Wyoming could have anything in common with the country of Guatemala, yet here are some of the similarities:

  • Mountains and thermal activity: Guatemala sits on three tectonic plates and has 31 volcanos with three that are active, including the towering Volcán de Agua, Volcán de Fuego, and Volcán de Acatenango. They provide a picturesque backdrop to Antigua at an elevation of 5,070 feet. Meanwhile, the Rocky Mountains were formed as a result of a combination of tectonic and volcanic processes over millions of years. Although Wyoming only sits on one tectonic plate and doesn't have any active volcanos, it has significant geothermal activity, primarily in the form of thermal springs, the most notable ones located in Yellowstone National Park and Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis.
  • Jade: The term "jade" is properly applied to only these two different metamorphic rocks, nephrite and jadeite. Jadeite, found in Guatemala, is a pyroxene mineral that is rarer, harder, and more colorful than nephrite. Nephrite, which is found in Wyoming, is a variety of the calcium and magnesium-rich mineral actinolite which is tougher, more durable, and more common than jadeite. Nephrite often has darker inclusions throughout the stone, while jadeite has a very tight interlocking crystal structure. Jadeite can be polished to a higher luster and is more expensive than nephrite. Guatemalan jade, lost for five centuries, was rediscovered in 1974 by an archeologist. As recently as February of this year, a jade mask was discovered in a 1,700-year-old tomb at a Guatemala Mayan site. We visited a jade shop while visiting Antigua and here's what we saw:



  • Coffee (Starbucks): Starbucks has a significant presence in Guatemala and has been involved in the country's coffee production for several years. The Antigua Valley of Guatemala is particularly treasured for its coffee, known for its 100-year-old farms, nutrient-rich volcanic soil, and high-quality coffee. Coffee plants are grown under shade trees which create a suitable environment for their growth and to enhance the quality of the coffee.


I added to my Starbucks coffee mug collection and enjoyed a sampling of the rich coffee that of course is a favorite in the states, including Wyoming.

  • Enchiladas: Enchiladas have a long history, dating back to the Mayans, and are a popular menu item in many restaurants. They can be made in various ways and with different ingredients, making them a beloved and iconic part of the cuisine. The Guatemalan version, with its own unique preparation and presentation, are assembled over a crunchy tostada and layered with fresh lettuce, ground or shredded beef or chicken, and the vegetable mixture of beets and cauliflower, and topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and a hard cooked egg slice. We enjoy Enchiladas della casa at our favorite restaurant in Pinedale, Wyoming, Los Cabos, but they're made differently than the ones we ate today.


We also had a luncheon of Guatemalan cuisine, a fusion of Mayan and Spanish influences, with corn, beans, and chilies being staple ingredients. Todays menu included:

  • Tamales, a typical dish, which are flavorful mixes of dough, meat, and sauces.
  • Chuchitos, a smaller version of tamales, filled with pork or chicken and a tomato-based sauce, and wrapped in corn husks.
  • Pepian de indio, a chicken stew cooked in a lightly-spiced tomato sauce. What a treat to enjoy this meal in such a unique restaurant, with our friends Greg and Jill. After, our fabulous lunch, we also visited a candy store with a very interesting selection of sweets, and received a little bag of treats to take with us back to the ship.



Although there are many similarities between Guatemala and Wyoming, there are some significant differences too. Of which population is a major one! While we have 6 miles per person in Wyoming (being the least populated state in the USA), there are 167 people per kilometer (.62 miles in a km) in Guatemala. In fact, when our guide spoke about production in Guatemala, he mentioned "people" as one of the top three "items" of production in the country. He also stated that of the top three means of income for the country, #1 was money sent back home from Guatemalans living in the USA. Beyond that, income comes from #2 tourism and then #3 agricultural products with names you'll recognize - Coffee (Starbucks) and Bananas (Chiquita).

We enjoyed the day in La Antigua, Guatemala so much that, who knows, we might even visit this fascinating city once again!

Posted by Where2FromHere 02:34 Archived in Guatemala

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Great post Barb. I didn’t know anything about La Antigua but it’s on the travel bucket list now. It combines the three essentials for me, history, food, and geology. So there is only nephrite in Wyoming, no jade? I hope you bring back a piece for your expanding rock/fossil collection!

by Dave

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