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Armchair Exploration: Discover Guatemala with Jessica

Today on Flourish, join Noonday Collection Founder Jessica Honegger to explore Guatemala. This summer, Noonday Ambassadors will travel to Guatemala to meet the Artisans who create some of our bestselling scarves and beaded bracelets.  

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Guatemala is one of my favorite places in the entire world – and one I have a special history with. After graduating from the University of Texas, I traveled to Guatemala for the first time serving with Food for the Hungry. It was there that I learned how dignified work can transform lives and create a flourishing world. Guatemala is a country that remains near and dear to my heart, and one that has so many hidden treasures to explore!

When I’m in Guatemala, my very favorite place to stay is at Quinta de Los Flores in Antigua. It’s a charming little family-owned hotel that I discovered on my very first visit to Guatemala. I’ve been staying there ever since – for over 15 years! It is beautiful inside and out, with a great view of the nearby volcano. And you have to head over to El Convento hotel for a great drink at their rooftop bar. Quita de Los Flores was even one of the locations where we shot the Spring 2019 lookbook!

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There is so much amazing food in Guatemala to enjoy. For great contemporary Guatemalan food that will really give you a feel for the tastes of the country, Los Tres Estaciones is the best. When I lived in Guatemala after college, there were times that I desperately missed Mexican food (like any true Texan!). To satisfy my Mexican craving, I would always head to Frida’s, inspired by the work of Frida Kahlo.

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If you want to do like the locals do, you have to go to El Pollo Campero, a national Guatemalan food chain. When I meet Artisans there, they bring their own fresh corn tortillas from home to eat with their restaurant meal! It’s just how things are done there – everyone recognizes that the best tortillas come fresh from your own hearth, and why would you want anything less that the best tortillas?

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Shopping is a must when you’re visiting Guatemala. La Casa de los Gigantes is a great shop off the beaten path for really authentic artisan made pieces. The most famous place to shop in Guatemala is Chichicastenango. Thousands of artisans from all over the country gather there to sell their products. It’s really an amazing thing to see – if it’s for sale in Guatemala, you’ll find it at Chichicastenango.

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The best thing about Antigua is that there are so many hidden gems. You never know what’s going to be behind the colorful doors that line the streets, so you just have to get out there and explore! The cobblestone roadways and beautiful architecture will wind their way into your heart before you know it.

Antigua is beautiful, but you should also get out into the countryside. Guatemala is a small country, but there’s so much diversity. The country has the highest population of indigenous peoples in Central America, and each people group has a distinct cultural heritage and dress. I love traveling through the Guatemalan countryside and seeing the fashions change as I move from town to town. Fashion truly is something that bonds us together as women. No matter where we are in the world, we all love feeling beautiful and expressing ourselves through style.

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As you travel through the countryside, make your way to Lago Atitlan, a beautiful lake in the Guatemalan highlands. There you can take a tour of a coffee plantation and see Artisans dying scarves using traditional techniques. There’s a beautiful watering hole named Semuc Champey that’s close to where I used to live in my post-college years. It’s truly an incredible place. If you search for “most beautiful water in Guatemala,” Semuc Champey is what comes up.

A good trip is best remembered with some special mementos! My must-have Guatemalan souvenirs include fresh coffee, a weekender huipil bag from the market, and some darling embroidered dresses for the kids in my life (and for me!).

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Want to learn more about how Noonday is creating opportunity in Guatemala? Check out our Impact section, or shop Guatemalan pieces here!

Meet Jessica Honegger

Jessica is Noonday Collection’s Founder and Chief Dreamer. Jessica spends her days inspiring others to live lives of purpose—from empowering our Ambassadors to be powerful storytellers and stylists, to visiting and encouraging our Artisans partners across the globe. After hours, Jessica can be found relaxing with her husband, dancing with her three children, and enjoying a good book.