Guatemala is one of the most beautiful places I've visited. I'm learning that I'm drawn to lakes in a way that feels unique to me. They simultaneously excite and calm. At Lake Atitlan, the water was still and glassy, and the natural environment surrounding it kinetic and unruly. The towns we visited were old and colorful - even the mausoleums were painted in pastels and adorned with bright, plastic flowers.
It is also worth noting that Guatemala has a violent history in the not so distant past, which the U.S. was very much complicit in. I am aware that only a few decades ago I would not have traveled here because it would have seemed too violent, aware that cheap accommodations are possible because Guatemalans were systematically terrorized and repressed by a dictatorial government. It is something I always kept in mind.