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Jaguars, banditos, and earthquakes, oh my!
When our friends heard we were planning to vacation in Guatemala, they advised us to reconsider, citing warnings from the State Department and US Embassy.
Arrival in Antigua
When we arrived we were met not by car jacking banditos, but by masked medical personnel collecting health data and distributing Swine Flu information. Our first hotel in Antigua was quaint and the staff was kind and patiently waited for me to string together a sentence with my rudimentary Spanish. I had purchased a computer program to learn some …
Immersion in Mayan Culture
Our delightful guide, Hugo, took us to the inner Chichicastenango market where the local Mayans were trading fresh produce. He identified the different Mayan groups based upon the patterns in their colorful woven costumes. The market has everything anyone might need, from toiletries to piles of chicken heads. Fortunately, Hugo greatly assisted …
Life around the Lake
After a day of bargaining, we relaxed by borrowing a canoe from the hotel to paddle around the Lake Atitlan. We saw men snorkeling and spear fishing for black bass. While paddling along the shoreline, we saw Mayan villagers washing clothes, dishes, and themselves. Makes the need for “agua pura” obvious. We managed to return to the …
Our guide took us to visit a local family whose house had been badly damaged by an earthquake mud slide a few years ago. The family was tremendously warm and inviting, but the harsh realities in the lives of the average villagers were evident. We were again fortunate to witness a ceremony while visiting Maximon,a carving of a Mayan folk deity …
Antigua, the Santa Fe of Guatemala
We received an insightful historical account of the city, visited the churches of Antigua, and toured the jade museum. Antigua is a beautiful city filled with interesting shops and restaurants, as well as its own local market with goods of every description. We traveled to the Volcano Pacaya, rode horses up to the lava flow and hiked down. I …
Into the Jungle
We flew to Flores and learned that planes really only need three inflated tires for take offs and landings. As we traveled by boat to the Chiminos Lodge, we saw men fishing and women washing clothes in the river. Clearly, life here is hard and the work never ceases.
It's not the Heat - It's the Humidity
After a river ride seeing cormorants and storks fly along our boat, we hiked up to Augateca. At 106 degrees and high humidity, the jungle felt just like an Oklahoma summer day. We hiked through a deep gorge while taking care to avoid slipping on the wet moss covered rocks. The next day as we were leaving for Flores, we passed a team of …
Having an interest in archeology, traveling to Tikal, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, was phenomenal. Pictures simply cannot do justice to the scale and scope of the buildings. The amount of human labor required for construction is mind boggling. Hiking around in 100 degree heat (it was a cooler day) made us further appreciate the ancient …
We arrived home safe and sound, having gained an understanding and appreciation of a people and country about which we knew little. Final Score: Jaguars – 1 (if you count a wooden mask), Earthquakes – 1, World Famous Archeologist – 1, Banditos – 0. A fine trip, indeed!
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