10 Extraordinary Facts About Tropical Cobán, Guatemala
The beautiful scenery of Cobán, Guatemala has been a tourist attraction for locals and foreigners alike. This wonderful place is located in Alta Verapaz, and it’s the home of many interesting caves, rivers, and lakes with an abundance of things to do and places to see. There is a lot more to Cobán than meets the eye, these interesting facts will put you a notch above the average tourist when it comes to this wonderful place and all the interesting things about it. We’ve also prepared a few tourist tips for your trip to Coban and Guatemala in general so you can make the most of your travels.
General Information About Cobán, Guatemala
Before we dive into the finer details of this beautiful place, here are some basic facts:
- Cobán was founded over 450 years ago by Spanish monarch Carlos V.
- Cobán is the departmental head of the municipality of Alta Verapaz.
- It has a population of over 200,000 people.
- It’s one of the biggest producers of African Palm oil in the world.
- It has a warm climate with usually strong tropical rainfall.
10 Extraordinary Facts about Cobán, Guatemala
1. Cobán has Great Cuisine and Exotic Fruit
Cobán has a signature dish called Kaq’ik, or kakik. This dish is named in the Maya language quiché and it means “red and spicy”. It’s a thick chicken stew with red spices that’s usually served with white tamales wrapped in plantain leaves and a bowl of rice.
If you go to Cobán, you can find this amazing dish and give it a try. Another popular dish that I personally recommend is fresh white corn. There is something magical about eating corn that’s freshly picked. Locally sourced corn from the supermarket will never taste the same after you try this out!
Also, if you want to try some dessert, buy yourself a cocoa fruit! The cocoa beans that are used in chocolate are covered in a sweet, white fruit that tastes nothing like chocolate, but it’s quite tasty and refreshing all by itself.
2. Cobán Has Multilingual Children
Since the culture of education in Coban is very different from what we’re used to, many children have jobs that aren’t labor intensive such as selling cocoa tablets to tourists. Because of this, some local children have picked up on many different words and phrases dedicated to sell to passing tourists.
Don’t be surprised if a small girl approaches you and speaks English out of the blue! Some of them know how to sell chocolate in more than one language, and they really seem to enjoy getting taught some new phrases if they can help it.
3. Cobán Has Unique Microclimates
A microclimate is a group of climate conditions that are specific to a small area of a biome. Guatemala and Cobán have many diverse microclimates that allow unique species of flora and fauna to exist and thrive.
That’s why preserving the integrity of these places is so important to many Guatemalans! Places like these are a paradise, especially for biologists and animal lovers who love to find exotic and interesting organisms.
4. There is Something for Every Touristic Taste
If you’re in Guatemala, Cobán is one of the places I would recommend visiting the most. If you’re into extreme sports you can visit the caves and do a deep dive into underground water systems.
You can also zipline across the canopy and coffee plantations, or navigate the rapids in a raft. If you’re looking for an international experience, there are hostels where people from all over the world gather to socialize and enjoy the natural surroundings.
If you want to have a fun time with your family, there are hotels with private lakes, lazy rivers, and water swings. If you want to get pictures worth a thousand likes, there are places such as Semuc Champey that will dazzle your friends. There is something for everyone in Cobán, so you will have many hours of fun even if you go more than once!
5. Cobán has a Cultural Impact on the Whole Country
The local cuisine travels from Coban to Guatemala. The famous drinks, foods and spices reach the capital city and many other locations in the country, so much so that they have become a part of our diets. Also, there are songs that are dedicated to it!
La Canción de Cobán, written by Domingo Bethancourt, is the pride and joy of many locals from Coban and Guatemala. If you memorize the melody, you’ll notice its often played by marimba bands. There is another great indicator of cultural impact, and that’s language!
There is a famous saying in Guatemala. Voy a hacer como los de Cobán, que comen y se van. This translates to “I’m going to do it as someone from Cobán who eats and leaves.” This saying is used to excuse yourself from a gathering right after eating, but it’s not indicative of Coban customs.
6. Cobán has a Positive Impact on the Whole World
Cobán has an important biome named el humedal. This kind of biome is extremely important for the preservation of the global ecosystem. They provide various benefits such as drinkable water, construction materials, replenishment of underground water sources, and mitigation of climate change.
There are many humedales all across the world, but they are becoming smaller and more scarce, so preserving the one we have in Guatemala is very important! Tourism is a great way to do this, since the income from visitors from all over the world help the locals have better stability and it encourages us to keep the place pristine and clean.
7. Cultural Festivals are Mesmerizing and Fun
El Festival Folklorico de Cobán, the Coban Folkloric Festival, features many interesting attractions and games, lots of yummy traditional food from all over the country, and expositions and sale of traditional art and artisan goods.
The main event is a beauty pageant where the winner gets the title of Rabin Ahau, translated as the daughter of the king. However, ahau is the name Maya priests give to God, and the pageant itself is not only a test of beauty and grace, but also spiritual knowledge and proficiency.
The models usually wear the traditional huipil from their local region, with participants coming from all corners of the country.
8. People From Cobán Have Amazing Spices and Drinks
I’ve talked a little bit about this before, Coban has some pretty amazing drinks and spices that you should try if you ever visit. You have the famous and dangerous chile cobanero, a spicy pepper that will put your tongue on fire.
There’s a huge export of coffee and cardamom, and if you’ve never tried them both together you’re definitely in for a treat!
9. Coban Has a Story of War and Peace
There’s an old folk tale that says that the quechi, indigenous to Coban, were unconquerable. The place called Tezulután, the land of war, was only conquered when catholic missionaries were successful in their conversion of the local population. Thus the region of Vera Paz, or true peace, was born.
This tale has some truth to it, since Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, a catholic priest, was able to enter the land and convince the locals to convert and follow the Spanish crown peacefully. There was also an abundance of German colonization in this area, but they were driven out of Cobán and Guatemala when World War II broke out.
10. Cobán is an Extremely Peaceful Place
The colonization of Cobán is not the only thing that’s peaceful. In most regions of Cobán, such as Laguna Lachuá, animals have no fear of human aggression. This means many of them will come to greet you! Fish will get curious and ome up to you, sometimes giving tickling bites that feel more like kisses, and you might even see some monkeys hanging out in the tree branches, going about their day.
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Prepare for your trip to Coban, Guatemala by taking a free class with one of our certified Spanish teachers who can teach useful Spanish phrases to help you navigate your experience with ease. At Homeschool Spanish Academy, our teachers have over 10 years of experience in providing student-tailored, 1-on-1 Spanish class that can focus on your specific interests such as travel or work-related learning.
As you plan your trip to Latin America, give yourself the gift of speaking to native speaker before you arrive!
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