A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: BenjaminE

Las mejores y las peores fotos del viaje

You decide which are supposed to be the best and which are supposed to be the worst


View Turtle and Barracuda go to Guate on BenjaminE's travel map.

Well the vacation is over and we are back to the real world. At least we are back to "vacationing" (aka being unemployed) in the US for the time being. I am lazily looking for a job while adjusting to life back stateside. Kim is already preparing herself for another voyage to Guatemala to go to archaeological field school at El Mirador in June and July. We've mostly spent our time at home getting fattened up on my mom's cooking, eating icecream and biking.

So here they are, the best and worst photos of the trip that we haven't already posted:

VOLCANOES, MOUNTAINS AND LAKES

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RIVERS AND SWIMMING HOLES

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DOGS AND ANIMALS

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GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE AND GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE LOOKING BAD

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NEOPOLITAN SUNBURN...STAGES ONE AND TWO YIKES!

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BUILDINGS AND GIANT STONE HEADS

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Posted by BenjaminE 14:54 Archived in Guatemala Tagged photography Comments (0)

¡Leones, Tigres, y Osos...Ay Caramba!

More accurately...Jaguar, Ocelot, Toucans and more!

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So Kim covered the archeology. Now it´s my turn to cover the animals! But first I wanted to weigh in just a little bit about the archeology too. For those of you only interested in the animal pictures, you can just skip this first paragraph. So here's my take...The times of Indiana Jones archeology are over. You´re not going to be smashing precious artifacts in order to protect and save even more precious artifacts from getting into the hands of Nazis (in fact the new thinking is moving towards covering things back up to protect them), but that doesn´t mean that you can´t enjoy it just the same. The journey to El Mirador was an eye-opening experience for me. It's been a long time since I've been able to get so caught up in my own imagination...feel like a five-year-old kid again, experiencing things for the first time and trying to figure everything out. You know, like that giddy pleasure that Indiana Jones gets when he sees the Grail Tablet at the beginning of Indiana Jones 3: The Last Crusade (although it clearly wasn't the last crusade since he went ahead and made another one). Then we went to Tikal where everything was much more restored and things started making more sense (or so I thought). The progression from the architecture and the layout of the Pre-Classic to the Classic became more clear while still being significantly different and intriguing. Then, when we got to Palenque, everything that I thought made sense was turned on its head. Most everything didn't line up the way it had at the previous two sites, the bases of buildings were not square, so much so that it had to be intentional, and the symetry of the site didn't fit into my builder's asthetic. I left Palenque again feeling like a kid full of questions who had just gone to the museum with his class but still wasn't able to process everything he'd seen and learned. Visiting these sites has filled me with a passion to explore and learn more in a search to find the answers to the questions that still linger days after we left Palenque.

NOW HERE'S WHAT YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR! I've categorized the photos with their location so that you can put them into some context based on Kim's previous entry. ENJOY! We'll see many of you soon.

Here is a picture from our boat trip down the Rio Dulce.

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EL MIRADOR TREK:

Massena Trogon

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Keel-billed Toucan

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Ocellated Turkey-Kim wishes that I'd get all dressed up and dance for her like this!

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Collared Aracari

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Baby Spiker Monkey-This little fella put on a show for us two days in a row. Guess the sight of gringos makes him dance.

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ARCAS (We've got a lot more pictures of the animals from our week here, but these are the best ones that we weren't able to get pictures of in the wild):

Ocelot (roughly the same size as a medium-sized dog)

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Jaguar-Despite what Kim will try to tell you, I was never caught trying to sneak into the Jaguar's cage to cuddle up next to it.

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Here's Kim in the Macaw cage. For those of you who know her well, it took a lot of courage for her to go into that cage every day given her phobia of birds. Between that and her climbing Temple V at Tikal, this trip has turned into an opportunity for her to conquer a number of her biggest fears.

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TIKAL:

Coatimundi-These were running all over Tikal our first day there and we saw one three or four times as big on our trek to El Mirador, but the picture didn't come out as clear.

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Oropendula

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Blue-somethinged Motmot

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Brown Jay-You thought that crows in Oregon are annoying. These guys are squawking from before dawn until well after dusk. They jokingly call them the Security Alarm of the Jungle.

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Don't know what this is but we saw it in the parking lot waiting for our bus back to Flores.

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Howler Monkey-We certainly heard plenty of these. When you first hear them, if you didn't know better you'd think there was a jaguar or some other jungle cat nearby.

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Crested Guan

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I know this isn't an animal but I thought I'd finish up with a picture for my Mom of a beautiful sunset from the top of the tallest pyramid at El Tintal, the last stop on the way back to civilization from El Mirador. Kim wants to make sure that I tell you that I had to take a hundred of these to get this great shot.

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Posted by BenjaminE 17:17 Archived in Guatemala Tagged animal Comments (1)

Planificación Familiar

Need a vasectomy? Then Guatemala may be your best bet!

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10 things more expensive than a vasectomy in Guatemala:

1. A personal 8-inch pizza.
2. All-you-can-eat pancakes in Antigua.
3. One night for a single bed with shared bath in the cheapest, dirtiest hostel we could find in Antigua.
4. One hour of Spanish classes at San Pedro Spanish School.
5. Postage to send 1 postcard from Guatemala to the US.
6. A worn out, second-hand American T-shirt.
7. A large bag of Cheetos.
8. 4 imported Snickers candy bars.
9. A pair of flip-flops in my size.
10. A five-minute taxi ride in any large Guatemalan city.

Just a little context: Not too long ago, there was a flier posted at Centro Maya advertising a weeklong Family Planning Clinic. Aside from standard family planning advice, it offered vasectomies for men and tube-tying operations for women for Q25 or about $3.15. Both Kim and I asked if it was a typo and were assured that it was not. Low, bargain prices are the only way they can get people to even consider these operations. This is a particular problem with men who typically don´t want to do anything that will compromise their masculinity, although it is widely known that vasectomies are way safer and less invasive than the alternative for women. Family planning is a particular problem among poorer families who cannot afford to support the kids they already have, let alone any new ones. It´s just unfortunate since many men feel that the more kids they have, the more masculine they are compared to other men. Machismo at its best!

Anyway....for any men considering a vasectomy you might want to consider Guatemala since $3 has got to be cheaper than the operation in the US, even if you have insurance.

Posted by BenjaminE 09:11 Archived in Guatemala Comments (2)

¡Dios mio!

Drama in Sololá over the weekend

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Given that our internet access is sporadic and getting international news is difficult because those pages don´t tend to open, I´m not sure if this made the news back home. In Sololá, across the lake from where we are, there was some drama over the weekend that ended horrifically. First some context. In Guatemala City, the gangs have been extorting bus drivers for a while now, charging them money to drive through their territory. If they don´t pay, the bus drivers get killed. So, the bus drivers and their families went on strike recently, pleading for more police protection. I don´t think anything has been resolved on that front yet.

Fast forward to Sololá and keep in mind that I´m paraphrasing the stories that I´ve patched together from locals since I have yet to see a newspaper this week (surprisingly difficult to get). About a month ago, three young people from Guatemala City, who are suspected to be tied to gangs there, arrived in Sololá and began extorting the bus and cab drivers. At the end of last week, they killed a bus driver and the person who grabbed the steering wheel to keep the bus from going over a cliff. The police quickly arrested the three people, two young men and a young woman, and put them in jail. Soon, a group of 2000-3000 citizens arrived at the police station and began demanding that the three criminals be released to the public. Obviously the police didn´t want to do that because it was a lynching waiting to happen. So, they held off. The towns people kept the pressure on outside beginning to throw Molotov cocktails and overturning police cars, eventually setting fire to the jail and the overturned cars. The station virtually burned to the ground and the policemen inside narrowly escaped the blaze. When the flames died down the townspeople went through what remained of the station to the jail, which is behind the station. They grabbed the three criminals, took them out in front of everyone, and the mob set them on fire and burned them alive.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor I found out this is the second time in the last year or so that the people of Sololá have taken justice into their own hands, burning people alive after attacking the police station. According to locals, the people have so little faith in the justice system and the police that they feel they have nothing else they can do if they don´t want to see the criminals set free in a week or a month. In other words, the people think the police are so corrupt in Guatemala they won´t even wait to see if the justice system works before lynching the suspected felons. The most telling thing about the whole situation is how matter-of-factly everyone described it. None of them seemed to have a huge problem with the actions of the mob and chalked it up to justice being served. Even considering the people were probably guilty, it still leaves me shocked and horrified.

Posted by BenjaminE 16:07 Archived in Guatemala Comments (1)

Ocupadísimos

I thought we were supposed to be on a vacation

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Guatemalan culture is very laid back. At least here in San Juan, the norm is to work from about eight in the morning until about noon and then maybe again after lunch until about two. Very similar to what I saw when I was in Mexico, a teacher is considered full time if they work just in the morning or just in the afternoon. So in our effort to fit in to this very relaxed way of life, Kim and I got ourselves involved in so many projects that we have little to no free time. You know how we were supposed to be travelling through Guatemala and then maybe on to the rest of Central America. Forgettaboutit. Since we arrived in San Juan on the seventeenth of September, we´ve only left once to go two hours away for the weekend. And it doesn´t look like that is going to change much until Kim´s parents come in December. Luckily for us, it´s so beautiful here that it makes it hard to leave. When we first got here we wanted to take lots of day trips to other towns around the lake. Now, we´re too lazy and also too busy to walk the fifteen minutes to the next closest town. Granted, there´s not much reason to go there since it´s overrun by drunk and drugged out gringos.

We´re keeping ourselves very busy here in San Juan working at the Centro five days a week. Kim also started up Spanish classes again this week. When we´re not at the Centro or taking classes, we´re working on the video that we are making for the Centro and on our new project, teaching English to all the kids in the family we are staying with. Without any resources, we´ve had a good time teaching ourselves how to teach English and making lesson plans and we´ve come to two conclusions: there are a lot of really ugly sounds in English and we are really glad we learned English as a first language because it seems much harder to learn as a second language than Spanish.

Posted by BenjaminE 15:52 Archived in Guatemala Tagged volunteer Comments (3)

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