Guatemalans, like people with good taste all over the world, have their own loyal following of Star Wars or La guerra de las galaxias as it’s known in Spanish. Annually in November, the group known as Star Fans Guatemala puts on a large convention in the beautiful Hotel Santo Domingo in La Antigua, Guatemala.
Invited to participate last year an an exhibitor, I took the opportunity to recieve free admission and the chance to get to know Guatemala’s loyal and dedicated fanbase for the greatest science-fiction franchise ever created.
I met myriad interesting people who come mostly from Guatemala City. There were no surprises that the demographic of people able to afford such luxuries as cosplay and collecting licensed props and toys come from the country’s more affluent, yet small middle and upper classes.
Yet those participating in the event were down-to-earth, rather than spacey, people. The above womens group, Femme Stars, meets monthly to visit children in Guatemala’s hospitals and motivate groups of women to make positive change within themselves.
I also got to see lots of cool action figures and things that I would have bought when I was a kid if I had adult income. Good thing I still don’t have that kind of disposable financial ingress.
But in a country so often divided by ethnicity, language, culture, politics, and social class it was refreshing to see children, young and old, come together about something so quintessentially human as Star Wars.
Many participants, rather than buy costumes that would cost thousands of dollars from licensed retailers, opt to creatively make their own out of locally-available materials. The Grevious above is made out of repurposed cloth, cardboard, and styrofoam.
My first memories with Star Wars are curled up on the sofa in my family house with my Dad. He carefully awakened a wonder within me of that galaxy far, far away. The annual event is an opportunity for families to come together around something that inspires curiosity in their children.
Star Fans Guatemala puts on a wonderful event. I felt welcome as a foreigner and was immediately drawn in to a warm and communal atmosphere. As I left, I knew the Force was with me.
Goodbye Guate is a blog series celebrating my last 100 days of Peace Corps service in Guatemala. A beautiful country known as the land of the eternal spring and named as tempting the limits of the possibly picturesque, Guatemala has inspired great changes and tremendous growth within me. I hope to share with you the 100 things I will miss most about this charming and pastoral Central American country.