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The Streets and People of Guatemala as Seen Through the Lens of Jochen Smuda of Ucon

From pro-rollerblading to running a streetwear brand, Jochen Smuda has a pretty full schedule, but he finds time to travel the world and explore new places. This time, he headed to Guatemala and El Salvador and was kind enough to share some of his favorite analogue photographs of the trip and some insightful tips. Read more after the jump.

Check out a full gallery of his images at the end of the article!

Please tell us something about yourself, from what you do for fun to what you do for work, if you’re lucky, they’re one in the same!

My name is Jochen Smuda and I run the streetwear brand Ucon with my friends from Berlin. You already named it, on the one side it is my daily work to make my living on the other it is the one thing I truely love doing for over 11 years now. Everyday you are faced with so many new things, and that is the fact I love most about it – it never gets boring. Also, I love doing a lot of other things which bring fun to my life like all kinds of different sports, music, taking photos while travelling aroud the world and of course spending as much time as possible with my girlfriend.

Can you tell us a little bit about your trip to Guatemala?

I traveled to El Salvador and Guatemala at the beginning of the year with my girlfriend. We visited a good friend of mine and stayed there for almost 3 weeks. We traveled all around the country mostly by bus which was kind a hard at the beginning until we got used to it but it was also really impressive getting in touch with that different culture over there.

What three tips can you give someone visiting Guatemala for the first time?

  • Be careful in Guatemala city at night, it`s dangerous if you hit the wrong streets.
  • Although it’s a tourist thing, take the sunrise tour in Tikal. Listening to the jungle waking up at 4 a.m. was one of the most emotional moments in my life.
  • Get inspired by the great smile all those Guatemalan put on their faces.

A lot of your pictures are of the people, what is your impression of Guatemalan culture?

I just loved the way the Guatemalan dressed with their colorful cloth. Always friendly – always helpful, we didn’t have one single bad experience. I think they are extremely nice not only to the tourists.

How does Guatemalan culture differ from your own?

You can’t compare that to our culture. Time is different over there, and the whole way of living differs a lot. I don’t want to judge if this is better or not, it is just a lot different to the way we live. They don’t care about the material world too much, that is pretty much the thing i liked the most. It seems that they are truely happy with their life, for sure not all of them, but most i saw. You can tell by the look in their eyes.

What similarities did you find?

Unfortunately they are starting to love fast food as much as we did when it hit europe :-)

You travelled from remote areas to villages and towns, what was your favorite place?

Deep in the jungle was my favourite spot, on the tracks of Mayan culture.

What were people’s reactions to your analogue camera?

Real different. Some wanted to get photographed, some acted like they had never seen a camera before and some just wanted to get the camera and make their own pictures.

Anything else you want to tell us about Guatemala?

If you get the chance to visit that country – GO for it!! It is worth it.

written by gabysalas

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