About 165 kilometers, or just over 100 miles, to the west a bit south of Guatemala lies the city of Mazatenango. As the capital of Suchitepéquez, it is one of the larger, more vibrant cities in southwest Guatemala. At 45,000 residents (est. 1995) it does not approach the size of Guatemala City or Quetzaltenango. However, this is a busy town all the same.
The name of this city is not derived from the Spanish language. Instead it comes from an Aztec dialect called nahautl. The name came as far back as when Pedro Alvarado was claiming land for Spain. The Aztecs that accompanied him, called this place “The land of the Deer.” The Nahautl word for deer is mazatl and tenango literally means the place/land of.
Mazatenango lies significantly lower in elevation than Guatemala City or Quetzaltenango. In fact it sits on the coastal plain leading to the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, the climate is somewhat hotter and definitely more humid than that of the other cities in the upper elevations. However, it is usually no warmer than the southern region of Florida in the United States. Though it lies only 100 miles from Guatemala City as you look at it on a map, the mountainous terrain makes the trip much longer. In fact, the trip can take anywhere from three to five hours depending on traffic and travel conditions. The scenery along the way couldn’t be more beautiful however. With volcanoes, mountains, ravines, etc. The eye never is without something to behold in awe.
Recently, Mazatenango has played a role in US sports trivia. In July of 2000, the United States played a World Cup qualification in the city’s relatively nice sports complex. The home Guatemalan National team delighted the crowd in a hard fought game that eventually ended in a 1-1 tie of the game tying goal of Carlos Ruiz. Click Here for the article about this amazing day!
During the month of February, Mazatenango is famous for its eight day Carnival Feast. Locals and visitors alike look forward to the days of food, music, parades, games, etc. that bring the streets of the capital city to life. As one Guatemalan website states, “To mention the carnival of Mazatenango is to bring to mind moments of a happy and cordial party. In the eight days of this celebration’s duration the local residents have kept alive the traditions of the Department.”
Whether gold, silver, tile, fabric, and even furniture, is what a visitor is looking for, Mazatenango is a major producer of all these things. Though it is remotely located on the Sis River in southwestern Guatemala, it is a major commercial center for the economy. From this region come many of the products tourists by at the markets they visit. Goods are shipped to other cities via the Pacific Coast Highway which runs through and is the lifeblood for this city.
A site that I found completely amazing, though you may have to use an online translation filter, was http://www.literaturaguatemalteca.org/mazate.html. There were numerous photos of Mazatenango from over a half century ago.
Please if you have additional info on this city, please leave it in the comment section below!