The Quetzal of Guatemala - your currency and spirit guide
The Resplendent Quetzal of Guatemala, a bird that cannot be bred or held in captivity, is the national bird and namesake of the local currency. It typically kills itself soon after being captured or caged and for this reason it is a traditional Central American symbol of liberty. The bird is of great relevance to Guatemalan culture, being the nahual, or spirit guide of the official national hero Tecun Uman, a king and warrior of the K'iche' Maya during the latter stages of the Spanish conquest of the region. Legend has it that upon his death at the hands of the Spanish all subsequent male Quetzal were born with a bright red breast and no longer the ability to sing. The colourful, unusually feathered bird and ‘God of the air’ plays an important totemic role in wider Mesoamerican mythologies too, and you’ll come across its image and story throughout your travels in the region.