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Travel guides celebrate Latin culture

by yang

Graphic designer Ari Lopez’s latest design, The Antigua: Latin America Travel Guide, taps into her favourite colour scheme, earth tones – creating a sense of wonder for ancient sites in Guatemala – to earthy reds that resemble the murals of Bonampak in Mexico – an elaborate design painted between 790 and 792 AD, according to the Smithsonian Institute.

The murals, elaborate and sophisticated frescoes, account for their durability and matte surface, similar to the method used in pottery.

Lopez sees art as a form of self-expression – colours, details and patterns are part of her self-image. The artist is a fan of Oscar Claude Monet and Art Chantry, sources of inspiration and skilful mastery of modern art.

Antigua avoids the mainstream attractions typical of Latin America and the Caribbean – exotic resorts in Cancun and Punta Cana are common conceptions of the ideal holiday. Lopez argues that “sophisticated and mysterious ruins such as Chichen Itza, Teotihuacan, Serpent Mound, Tikal and Machu Picchu” are often overlooked.

The first-generation Guatemalan uses mood boards and other graphic designers to enhance her craft – using geometric patterns in architectural structures as a muse to enhance the audience’s experience and engagement.

The guides encapsulate, enhance and offer the best of indigenous culture in Belize, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru as seen through the eyes of the twenty-three-year-old designer.Her work was part of a student exhibition at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia.

MAYAN RUINS IN BELIZE:The only British colony in Central America to become an independent nation, this country on the northeastern coast of Central America is home to dense jungle, rich marine life and Mayan ruins such as Caracol, Cahal Pech and Altun Ha. This small country, not much larger than the US state of Massachusetts, plays a pivotal role in the world of the ancient Mayan civilisation.

The Antigua: Belize guidebook offers insights into Cerros, an Eastern Lowland Maya archaeological site in northern Belize that functioned as a coastal trading centre during the Late Preclassic period.

Her guide includes information on the Temple of the Masonry Altars, also known as the Temple of the Sun God, and the Blue Creek Cave near Lubaantun or “the place of the fallen stones”, a pre-Columbian Maya ruined city in southern Belize.

A fun fact Lopez includes is that “a drawing of this structure is the logo of Belize’s leading beer brand, Belikin”.

Her design anticipates the needs of travellers by presenting valuable information in a way that is interactive, tangible and useful abroad.

Antigua: Guatemala has a deep blue colour scheme with hints of Mayan blue, similar to the flag of the country, which gained independence in 1840 after the guerrilla movement led by Rafael Carrera defeated the forces of Francisco Morazán, president of the federation.Guatemala is known for its unique natural ecosystems and diverse landscapes, including volcanoes, lakes and rainforests, particularly around Tikal, El Mirador, Uaxactún and Yaxhá.

Although the young artist includes historical context, she preserves the essence of travel and leisure by incorporating “things to know before you go”, suggestions to inform travellers and curious minds alike, information not often known about sites such as the North Acropolis of Tikal, Yaxhá Next to Nakum, which the artist says “offers a peaceful, introspective experience, especially for bird watchers and Maya enthusiasts”.

The third largest country in Latin America, bordered by the United States to the north and Guatemala and Belize to the south, Mexico is known for its vibrant culture, rich ancient history and delicious cuisine – home to places like Xochiacalco, Chichén Itzá and Edzná.

Edzná is an ancient Mayan word meaning ‘House of the Itza’ and home to the ‘Temple of the Masks’. Lopez says “one mask represents and honours the sunrise god and the other honours the sunset god”.

Antigua: Mexico includes Chichén Itzá, which Lopez says is “the fusion of Mayan construction techniques with new elements from central Mexico that make Chichen Itza one of the most important examples of the Maya-Toltec civilisation in the Yucatán”.

Peru is the land of the Incas, a colourful region with unique textiles and ancient archaeological structures, and one of the richest cultures in the world.

Antigua: Peru is a guidebook like no other, catapulting the imaginations of archaeology buffs and conspiracy theorists to visit Huaca Pucllana, especially the statues depicting a ceremonial offering – the Wari or Huari people emerged in the central Andes of Peru around 600 AD.The guide includes the Temple of the Sun and the Muyuq Maria Temple, with tours lasting from three hours to a full day, the young Guatemalan artist said.

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