“Hmm, Astral Travelling–Is That Cheaper than Normal travel?”

23 02 2008

Posted by: Chris and Laura

“Don´t stand directly under the howler monkeys. They will pee on you if they feel threatened,” I overhead the guide telling his group as he was touring them around the Mayan ruins of Tikal. That´s what they paid him $20 for? I got this pertinent piece of information for free.

Earlier that morning Chris and I woke up at 5:30am, got a 6am shuttle for an hour and a half ride to the ruins of Tikal. By 8am we were walking in the jungle and listening to the birds screach at each other. We would occasionally see branches shake as monkeys moved above us. Finally we saw one eating fruit from a tree. Tikal is the largest set of Mayan ruins in in Mesoamerica with some pyramids reaching 60 meters in height. Our final Mayan stop, and perhaps the grandest (though we both felt more in awe at Palenque).  Copan, Honduras was another large Mayan site we visited (Laura still amusing the Archaeologist in me) with great Stellae carvings.   A cool site, but a bit expensive and just not on the same level as Palenque or Tikal, both of which should be at the top of anybody’s list in Central America.

Before Tikal we spent a few nights at Lake Atitlan, surrounded by volcanoes. All I could think was ”what a place this would be for wakeboarding.” We originally passed through here with Andrew, though our trip was cut short as he got violently ill and starting puking out the window of the mini-bus. Driver didn’t seem all that suprised, he would kindly pull over and wait for Andrew to bring his head back inside the vehicle before moving on. The other 10 passengers however didn’t take it quite as in stride. Thirty minutes into a 2 and a half hour trip, he looked up and said ”Are we almost there?” Sure man. We just didn’t have the heart to tell him the truth. He got back at me though as I spent the next day bed-ridden with fever and freaky dreams. Not sure how, but Laura came out unscathed.  Andrew also was a wealth of knowlege on things the Romans did, and attracted the eye of Chichi–our homestay mother in Antigua–who apparently had a nice daughter around the same age.

Lake Atitlan is similar to Lake Tahoe, only it has volcanoes surrounding it instead of mountains of skiiers. In the main town of Panajachel, we met an expat from Northern California, who owned a coffee shop with fabulous Guatemalan coffee. He seemed like he had drunk 8 cups of coffee already that day and began telling us his life story. Apparently he refused to raise his children in the materialsim of the US. So instead, he decided to move to Guatemala. We discovered that his house had been robbed 8 times in the past 6 years. I guess that´s one way to combat materialism. Not only does this guy own a coffee shop, but he´s also a licensed fire works dealer (fireworks, not fire arms). In the middle of the conversation, he looks at us and asks, “Do you want to go blow something up?” Everyone in the coffe shop spilled into the street to watch shoot off professional fireworks from his hand.

We took water taxis to visit a few of the towns around the lake. One called San Marcos is an expat congregation of New Age hippies.  It has a pyramid sanctuary where, and I saw this with my own eyes, people live in tiny pyramids and get in touch with their spitiruality, sometimes taking courses to expand their aura. These courses include the ever-popular cystal channeling, but the one I found most intriguing was ”Astral Travel,” as I’ve always wanted to move between different planes of existence.  On another note, see this.

The local market at Chichicastenango was perhaps our least favorite visit so far, one I can’t possibly reccomend, though we did get a few cool pictures out of the trip.  Every Sunday and Thursday locals from surrounding Mayan villages come to sell their goods.  In one day you can hear over 20 different dialects of Mayan language along with various dress.  Some of them know less Spanish than we do.  There are other markets around Guatemala and those I’d reccommend well before Chichi.

Our last stop before crossing into El Salvador was Rio Dulce, where by the grace of God, we had a TV in our room, hot water, and a fan–on Superbowl Sunday.  And yes, while I couldn’t have picked a superbowl with teams I cared less about, it was a good one and seeing the Pats lose made it all worth while.  Though Favre should still be a little pissed at himself right now.

After six weeks in Guatemala, we´re ready to check out the rest of Central America.

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One response

23 02 2008
Avroch

Hellooooooooooo
Nice talking to you today Laura! I am so jealous of the two of you. I hope you have the best time and we will be waiting to celebrate your return, whenever that may be. Chris, I look forward to meeting you. Laura hasn’t told me much about you. I think she’s embarassed or something. hehehe

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