Guatemala

Here are all the posts for Panama. This is part of the Central America trip. See travelogues for the other countries: PanamaCosta Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. I traveled to Guatemala from Honduras and flew home from Honduras.

Guatemala Photos

Here are some of my favorite photos from my trip to Guatemala. Click any photo to see the slideshow.

map, Guatemala

Friday, April 18–next stop, home

Friday, April 18. I am flying home tomorrow morning. I am in Guatemala City after visiting Antigua, Lago de Atitlán, Semuc Champey and Tikal. I have been off the Internet grid since Antigua and am way behind on posting. I still can’t upload photos. I hope to catch up over the next few days, although my ISP left me a message saying my connection is down at home…. After that, I will work on my better photos and provide  final comments on the trip. Thanks for following the travelogue and my apologies for slow posting.

La Antigua

wood stick ignitesThe Spanish built La Antigua. An earlier settlement was totally destroyed by volcanoes. The present location was also destroyed by volcanoes and earthquakes. At one point, the Spanish ordered the people to evacuate, but they refused and rebuilt the city, sort of. Ruins are in abundance everywhere, old ruins.it's moving

La Antigua is a fun town to walk around in; there are lots of good restaurants. The central plaza has an unusual fountain where water squirts from women’s breasts. Volcanoes surround the city. At breakfast, a huge plume of smoke hissed from one of them.

I went on an excursion to Volcán Picaya and hiked up to the lava fields. (more…)

Lago de Atitlán

Lago de Atitlán is a gorgeous location, a large deep lake surrounded by three volcanoes. There are many small settlements around the lake, all accessible by water taxi and some by road. At 5,000 feet, it’s cool and comfortable. Unfortunately, crime appears to be rampant everywhere. The guide books are full of warnings; I received a warning on this website from Fritz; and travelers as far way as Costa Rica warned me about Guatemala. Upon arrival, I had fresh volcanoreports of theft and robbery. I spoke directly with people who had problems with large amounts of money being stolen. I had my drug store reading glasses stolen after leaving them unattended for five minutes; I challenged the woman with her baby that was the only one there, but she denied it. The night before, a young woman had been robbed with an exacto knife at her throat; (more…)

Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey is often regarded as the finest natural attraction in Guatemala. It did not disappoint.  I swam in the pools, floated down the river, visited a cave and watched indigenous people make chocolate.

The Rio Cahabon flows through limestone and creates an underground tunnel. Above is a natural bridge containing numerous turquoise, crystal-clear Las Grutas, it gets deeperpools. A gushing waterfall and birds-eye viewpoint complete the magic. The pools are ideal for swimming; I spent many hours there. Below the waterfall, you can tube down the river through the rapids.

Las Gruatas de Marias was a wild cave experience. An underground river flows through (more…)

Making Chocolate

roasting chocolate nutsI visited a local indigenous family and watched them make chocolate. The Q’eachi’ people harvest the cacao tree and make chocolate to eat and sell to tourists. We bought some chocolate from one family and asked them how they made the chocolate. It was difficult to communicate because only the younger students speak Spanish. But we did receive an invitation for 7 a.m. the roasted beansfollowing morning.

The key ingredient, cacao, is a fruit that grows on trees. The gourd is about eight inches  long. The nuts inside are white, about one-inch long and (more…)

Tikal

TikalTikal is generally regarded as Guatemala’s number one tourist attraction. It is well worth visiting. After visiting several other Mayan sites, I was pleasantly surprised by the dense, rich jungle here. The ruins themselves are large and numerous. It’s fun to climb on the pyramids above the tree canopy and see the birds and distant mountains. I visited the site on two sequential days. The jungle is interesting to hike and full of wildlife, including anteaters (coati) and a unique species of turkey.
Logistics — A highway of tourists runs from Semuc Champey south to Antigua and north to Flores. We decided to continue north to Flores and Tikal. We took a shuttle and stayed in El Remate at the Posada de Don David, a hotel on the lake. The following day, we took another shuttle to the park and stayed at the Jungle Inn. The Jungle Inn is a bit pricey for a private bath, but it is very spacious and comfortable. The garden grounds are wonderful and visited by birds, monkeys and coati (a kind of anteater).

As expected, Tikal is heavily tourist-ed and all the prices for food tickets, lodging and shuttles reflect this.

Guatemala City

I'm tiredTime to finish the story. From Tikal, I flew to Guatemala City to catch my flight to the States. After nine weeks on the road, I am tired and ready to go home. I have mosquito, ant and spider bites all over my body. I have slipped and fallen several times in the jungle and have a variety of bumps, bruises, scrapes and sore fingers. I am thinking defensively. Guatemala City is known as a tough city. Just let me home without being mugged.

I visited the city center (Parque Central) and the main cathedral. The fence around the cathedral masacreshas stone pillars inscribed with names. The names are listed by province. “Executed.” “Disappeared.” “Tortured.”

We bought a hammock and bedspread at the underground artisan market (it is literally underground) and took our last bus in Central America, the 101, back to the hotel. Then we took the long flight home.