After Tikal we met our group in Antigua. The next day we drove to Panajachel in our chicken bus. Now let me tell you, these bus divers are C-R-A-Z-Y! There was at least a dozen times where I though “We are going to roll over!” or “Ahhhh we will never fit through there”. But every time we made it through safely. This bus driver would maneuver the bus in and out of the smallest places. These roads aren’t nearly as wide as the ones in the USA and he still managed to keep us all safe. Surviving the chicken bus was probably where the most ‘excitement’ was for a lot of people.
Panajachel is a lake town surrounded by 3 volcanos. It’s a very good spot for tourists to come see. We bought all of our tourist-y take homes from here. I saw all of these women wearing their children with a type of side sling wrap. It was so cool seeing it because I wore Audrey and you don’t see that too often in the States. I bought 2 wraps while I was there and they were each around $20. Of course Audrey wont let me near her, but maybe my next little one will………. Tom picked out a local painting of the lake with the volcano behind it. I also got a small painting of a lady carrying a basket of watermelons on her head. I had seen that painting the first night we arrived in Panajachel, but I didn’t think that I would get to have it. Of course you have to be great at bartering to get the prices lower, that is what I am good at. We also got Audrey another maraca for her collection. We bought her one in Nicaragua, Mexico, and now Guatemala. While we were here the group had 4 days to see patients. The bus would pick everyone up at 7:30am and they wouldn’t get back until 5pm. The mornings were nice and sunny, but at around 1pm it would get rainy.
May 9 we left Panajachel for Antigua. The ride in the bus was particularly draining this time. We had the option to hike a local volcano on Saturday. This volcano had erupted 8 weeks before so it was very exciting that we would get to see an active volcano. I don’t enjoy hiking but I have to admit that it was worth it. Once we got to the top it was a wasteland of lava rock and smoke. They let us walk on the lava rock and you could feel the heat radiating out. It was pretty amazing. Volcanos are just so incredibly powerful, it was hard for me to realize that I WAS ON AN ACTIVE VOLCANO! There was a tiny hut there where they sold handmade jewelry with lava in it. The money went to a local educational charity. The men working there had videos of the last eruption to show everyone. Apparently they were standing on a high point as they watched the lava flow burn their first hut down. We bought Tom’s mom a Mothers Day gift and I got a ring, bracelet and earrings. I have to say, seeing the volcano and getting to experience a sliver of it’s heat was the highlight of my trip.
Here is a picture of us in the Cocoa Museum in Antigua. We also stopped at the Jade Museum. I guess Guatemala is also famous for their harder Jade. Other countries have Jade but they say that Guatemala has the strongest Jade in existence. It was tempting to buy some Jade, but they were SO expensive. If they were sparkly like diamonds it would have been a different story.
Sunday we flew back to snowy conditions in Colorado. It was Mother’s Day so I was eager to see my monster baby. We were able to hop on an earlier flight to get home in time to get hugs from Audrey. She saw Tom first and she just ran to him. It was adorable. She grew so much while we were gone. I can’t believe how quick babies grow. They change so fast in the first 4 years. It was a nice trip, but I was definitely glad to be home. It’s just so nice sleeping in my bed and having all the luxuries that we have in the USA. We really are lucky here.
We spent the last 2 days here in Tikal Guatemala. It’s a REAL jungle here. There are wild jaguars, crocodiles, and monkeys in the area. This place blows the ruins in Mexico out of the water. Here you can really imagine and see a whole Myan city. The pyramids are so tall and you can climb the stairs to the top of a lot of them. Our hotel is called the Tikal Inn and it’s so cute. Most guests get their own private hut with a grass roof. The inside is nice and clean with two beds and a bathroom. Each hut has its own porch which is nice. It only takes a few minutes to walk into the park with the ancient Myan city. The city is HUGE. You have to use your imagination to get an idea of what it would have looked like in its heyday. The jungle has completely taken over and covered the ruins. They say only 20% of the ruins have been excavated and the rest are still covered by trees and soil. It’s amazing that these trees have grown over stone. Their roots wind in and out of the ruins like veins. Every hill we see is a ruin that has yet to be excavated. It would be pretty amazing to see the whole thing if it ever gets completed. After spending a few days walking around looking at the temples I can see why it takes 6-10 years to excavate a single temple. Getting rid of the trees that have grown over the ruins probably takes half the time. As you walk through the jungle you just wonder what ruin you are walking over because every square inch of this place is part of the city. It’s a bit frustrating that we know so little about the Myan people. It’s hard to know what everything here REALLY was. Tom took a sunrise tour and we took a sunset tour together. On both tours you walk to the top of a temple and sit to watch the sun rise or set. There are so many ruins in the park. You could easily spend 2 days seeing everything. It would probably take 2 weeks if they had the whole city uncovered!
On our way to the airport we stopped in Flores. Flores is a little city on a very small island. It’s a good place for tourists because it’s small and easy to walk around. There are plenty of shops and excursions you can book while on the island. Although it was cute, I am glad we decided to stay in Tikal. A lot of the reviews said to stay in Flores and I really don’t see why. We took a Tuk Tuk back to the airport. The Tuk Tuk was SO cute! I’ve used this form of transportation in other Asian countries before, but I’ve never seen them outside of Asia. Tom had seen them before too, but he had never ridden in one. He used to be a “tour group ONLY” type of traveler before we met. So I assume his traveling was pretty limited due to the nature of the typical “tour group”. I don’t like traveling in a regimented group because it takes away your freedom and the ability to discover the area you’re in. Plus you save a LOT of money when you find local transportation and book your own excursions. When we were in Scotland Tom was trying to book us on a tour group and it was going to cost over $1,000 per person for THREE days! I talked him into renting a car for $200 for two weeks and we got to see the whole country. We saved money and we got to see every bit of Scotland. We even got to stay in a castle!
I can tell we are missing our monster baby Audrey because we keep copying her NO’s. Actually she says “NO” like “DOE” so it’s extra cute. She usually sticks her hand out while she yells “DOE”. So anytime Tom and I have to say no we just say DOE! Even though we miss her so much it’s probably better she didn’t come this time. She’s a very busy baby. I think she would have had so much fun here, but the traveling would be excruciating for her……….and us. When she gets to a more travel friendly age she’ll come with us. Last year we took her to Nicaragua with us and that was nice. She wasn’t mobile yet so she was content to let us carry her the whole time. Now that she walks she doesn’t want anything to do with us! I know she’s having fun with her grandma. She’s getting spoiled that’s for sure!