Guatemala: A Quick Word on Diversity

This is a slightly sensitive topic, so I hope I deal with it tactfully.

Kristen mentioned on several occasions that she could feel stares as we walked down the street, whereas I did not. She said she did not feel in any kind of danger, merely an obvious sense of being watched. On at least one occasion she told me that she could see locals staring at her.

The fact of the matter of is that in the vast majority of Guatemala (with the exception of the Rio Dulce/Livingston area to the extreme east), there are virtually no people of African descent. While we did see a few other Black men and women in the cities and towns we passed through, they were conspicuously tourists. The overwhelming majority of people you’ll see are either Latino or Indigenous locals, or they’re White tourists. Generally speaking, the average Guatemalan probably did not grow up alongside someone who was not Latino or Indigenous. It might come as a surprise for them to see someone with darker skin or different features from themselves, and they may express this astonishment in an obvious manner.

On that note, I also did not witness many Asian travelers. While I cannot speak in any way to that experience in this country, I suspect it might be somewhat similar.

I do want to reiterate that Kristen said she did not feel in danger, in any way, only that she very obviously stood out. Neither of us sensed any negative attitudes at all from any service staff we dealt with.

I believe that everyone should travel beyond the borders of their home country, and so I don’t write this to dissuade anyone from experiencing all that Guatemala has to offer. I’m only giving out information so that no one has any negative surprises.

Kristen, by the way, is also a travel blogger; hers is titled A Hungry Crab. I will ask her if she would like to write an article, on her page and/or mine, speaking more to this topic from her point of view.

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