June 30 – Army Day in Guatemala

Posted on June 30, 2018

The history of Central American countries, including Guatemala, has been quite difficult. Since its independence from Spain, Guatemala was ruled by a series of dictators and military generals, with outbreaks of democratically elected officials here and there. Shamefully, the United States and U.S. companies meddled - and NOT on the side of free and fair democracy! 

One of the many military-type take-overs of the government  occurred on this date in 1871, when a revolutionary army marched into Guatemala City. A few days later, the revolutionaries declared victory over a ruthless Conservadora administration and installed a military general as president.

Guatemala traditionally celebrated everyone who has ever served in its military - and especially those who died in service - with a military parade. But in the 2000s, many Guatemalans have protested holding military parades, or even celebrating the military with a holiday. They pointed out that thousands of civilians were killed by their own military during the country's civil war, and they held counter-events.

One tactic protesters use is to present photos of the thousands
of dead or missing citizens likely killed by the military during the
multiple-decades long war!

It looks like, in the face of all that protest, and in an effort to save money, recent Army Days have not featured parades. I cannot seem to find out for sure whether or not a parade will be held this year...

...Instead of dealing with the all-too-often ugliness of human history, let's check out the most glorious bits of natural beauty in Guatemala:

Laguna Lechua

Where there are butterfly colonies!

Lake Atitlán

This has been considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world - but there are huge problems with pollution, mostly because people thought it would be smart to bring a non-native fish into the lake, and major food chains were destroyed, and some bacteria have since been growing like crazy.

Volcanos erupting!

There are many volcanoes in Guatemala. Three are so active that tourists who stay near them are told that they will likely see at least one explosion. There are also five or more that are considered semi-active, letting off some smelly gases and smoke.

Monterrico Beach

This black-sand beach is one spot where you can watch sea turtles hatch and make for the ocean.

Limestone pools at Semuc Champey

Ooh, I love these sorts of pools!!

Lago Petén Itzá

This lake is where an island town called Flores is located - note that a causeway has been built to connect Flores with the shore.

And here are some more human-created beauties:

Chichicastenango market - 

Including colorful fabrics!


This popular Mayan ruins is located in the northern part of the country, quite near Mexico.

June 29 - St. Peter and St. Paul Day in Rome

Posted on June 29, 2018

The Catholic Church has a lot of saints - like, more than ten thousand! - but surely two of the "biggest," most important saints are Peter and Paul. And today is their joint feast day.

Feast days are often solemn occasions, and at the Vatican, the museums will be closed to tourists. Since St. Peter and St. Paul are considered the founders of the Christian church in Rome, banks and government buildings will be closed in the entire city. I gather that a few other communities in Italy also celebrate this feast day - but not Italy as a whole.

The more colorful and joyful aspect of the holiday is the street "paintings" that are created all through the night before - pictures "painted" with flowers! The flower artists who make these pieces of art are called infiorata.

There is also a rowing regatta - a race on the Tiber River - and a parade of historical boats. And the big finale is the Girandola (Pinwheel), which is a fireworks display originally designed by Michelangelo!