I can't seem to get a straight answer anywhere - one extreme is the Lonely Planet forum - we're all a bunch of nervous nellies, the other are the State Dept. advisories. For years (1970-2006) I traveled the back country of Guatemala doing candid ethnographic photography. Always there were the warnings about violence, but I never really ran into problems (except for a few pic-pockets). The current news describes gangs and violence, even in the rural areas. I'd still like to go back - there is a fiesta of Santa Catarina de Alejandria in Zunil, Nahuala, and Sipicate in November, not exactly on the main tourist trail. So the question is - what are the actual conditions like today? Go or just forget about it? Have things just deteriorated so much that discretion is the better part of valor?
I got s homegirl from Guatemala who says the murders are bad there yes but it is not usually directed at tourist as long as you know where your going and know you wont get lost that easy then you should be aight
Thanks for the response. I've done a little researching. The fiesta at Nahuala is 100% indigenous, one of the major ones in Guatemala. I doubt that there is much drug business or mara in the community. Getting there is the problem - I can take a shuttle from Antigua to a place called Los Encuentros (a cross-roads). There I wait for the next chicken bus to come along and it drops one at the entrance to Nahuala. Getting back to Antigua is just the reversed. There is my concern - a 6 foot gringo kind of stands out waiting for and traveling on the chicken buses. However, this is a chance to do some major ethnographic documentary. Will think it over. One thing for sure, if I go, I'll arrange for a local guide in Nahuala.
Discretion is the better part of valor. Having been a click away from purchasing tickets for Guatemala, someone today literally beat some sense into my head. Mara gangs are one thing, Zetas setting up shop in the western highlands of Guatemala is a completely different kettle of fish. Maybe a photographic essay trip to Dominica, a relatively undeveloped island in the eastern Caribbean is in order.