A Travellerspoint blog

Guatemala

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)

Arqueología... con fotos!

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Finally we have reached Mexico and are staying in Tulum. So far, everything in Mexico burns, the food just became significantly more spicy and I am head to toe burnt with strangely-shaped sunburns that hurt everytime I move. Therefore I have time to blog, as my fingers are one part still in tact.

Over the past month we have visited several Mayan sites including our trek to El Mirador, Nakbe, and El Tintal through the jungle and then the more touristy sites of Tikal and Palenque. I could spend about 10,000 words or more giving you the details of everything we learned on the way and especially from our amazing guide at Mirador, but I understand not everyone would be so enthralled in every detail. If you are interested, we have pictures and loads of time if you want to see them when we get back. Unfortunately, it was so humid on our trek to Mirador that my camera decided to give up and we lost about 75% of the pictures of the site on my camera. BUT, here is the coolest stuff we saw and still have pictures of:

EL MIRADOR:

Mirador is a pre-classic site that was boss in the region before the rise of superpowers Tikal and Calakmul. It's still in the process of excavation and a great place to let your imagination loose on what it possibly could have looked like.

This is La Danta, the largest pyramid complex in Mesoamerica. It's a multi-platformed structure, just the platform that makes its base measures 300m by 600m. From base to top it stands 72 meters. This is just the final pyramid on the very, very top after climbing three large platforms that were used for living space and religious purposes for the elite. You can't see in the picture, but this pyramid is over 30 meters tall and flanked by six smaller earlier constructed pyramids.

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This is a mask at a temple that was later converted into living space once Mirador fell to Calakmul and later Tikal.

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This is a stucco frieze that archaeologists recently found while they were doing research on the drainage system that helped keep the city supplied with water. It was on the side of one of the large limestone plastered roads that led from place to place and city to city. Our guide said that it's possible the image would have reflected off the water in the drainage canal.

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TIKAL:

Tikal is the iconic Classical Mayan site of Guatemala that you see on the postcards and guidebook covers. Apparently the people in charge amused themselves with competitions of who could build the tallest and most ridiculously steep temple. I think that whoever built this one (Temple V) won (in my opinion). It is one of the only ones you can climb, on a five or six-part wooden ladder of doom set up that really brought on my vertigo.

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Here is us superimposed on a Guatemalan postcard of Temple I in the Great Plaza.

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PALENQUE:

Palenque is a Classical Mayan site in Mexico unlike any of the other ones we saw. It is widely regarded as one of the sites with the best preserved art and stucco friezes. Also, its main palace area has endless passage ways that you can explore for hours on end. It is fun to go in one side and see where you end up.

This is me in the Mayan symbol called "Kimi," which means death appropriately enough.

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Here is a picture of almost the whole shebang... a couple of the major temples in the foreground and the main palace complex in back with the big observation tower.

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A stucco frieze from one of the pillars in the front of the palace.

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This is the Temple of Inscriptions where they found the tomb of the ruler Pakal. We saw the sarcophagus in the museum, which was about the size of a compact car carved out of one pure piece of limestone engraved with elaborate scenes. He was found inside with a mountain of jade and other offerings.

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Posted by KimJay 19:53 Archived in Guatemala Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

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)

Mucho más divertido ser Católico en Guatemala

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We´ve already discussed the bombas before, during, and after masses every Sunday here, but this week we found out a new reason why being Catholic in Guatemala is way more fun than in the US. This week we celebrated ¨El día de la Concepción de la Virgen,¨ Guatemalan-style. Though I guess you can only celebrate it Guatemalan-style since I have never heard of any other country that celebrates it. Then again, maybe I just haven´t been in Latin America long enough.

For all of you non-believers and non-catholic school byproducts out there, this day celebrates the day when the angel Gabriel came to tell the teenage Mary that she was pregnant despite her immaculate life without sin. This day-December Eighth- is when Catholics venerate Mary for accepting this news graciously instead of freaking out. It is also the day they transport a statue of the Virgin Mary in between the many different shrines in town--she occupies a different one every year.

The night includes several stages with bands and each one has a carpet designed of colored flowers or colored corn meal in front of it. About three to four hundred Catholics parade the statue of The Virgin around the streets to be serenaded before taking her to reside in her new home. While being toted around, The Virgin Mary sits on a float with the Angel Gabriel, and both of them are covered in Christmas lights and accompanied by their own traveling musicians on either side. Of course this day is supposed to be only celebrated by Catholics and Evangelicals aren´t supposed to participate in all this Virgin Mary veneration, but it is quite the spectacle and so basically the whole town is there to watch the precession and of course the fireworks.

During the four hour pluys parade, there were at least two solid hours of fireworks. We aren´t talking somewhere in the distance behind a protective barrier type of fireworks, but bombas exploding right over your head and showering you with burning gunpowder, ash, and at times pegging people with still flaming remnants of paper. Only twice did failed bombas decend toward the crowd and explode five feet above people´s heads. So, it was moderately safe.

You can see the pictures below of the parade as well as some of us putting up the Christmas tree with the kids from the family. Also, there is one of Ben and Fray playing Jenga, because we play a lot of Jenga these days as all our friends seem to be between the ages of eight and fourteen.

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Posted by KimJay 15:11 Archived in Guatemala Tagged events Comments (2)

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