Friday, January 16, 2009

Guatemala 29 December 2008 - 09 January 2009

Several months ago, we planned a trip to Central America. With a connection flight between Guatemala City and San Jose, Costa Rica canceled, we decided to instead just focus on exploring Guatemala.

After quite the adventure and illness following the Congo trip, I wasn't very keen to go to Guatemala. Thankfully, it is just developed enough that it wasn't so much of a hassle. Not to mention, I could apply my deteriorated Spanish skills that I had studied so long to acquire... :)

Guatemala is not a destination if you desire any kind of luxury or a nice beach holiday. Go to Costa Rica if you want that. I had actually never backpacked for an extended period of time, but that's just what we did throughout Guatemala. It was mostly relaxing and easy-going with only a small amount of stress related to coordinating travel times between various cities.

Our 11-day journey took us from Antigua, a former Spanish colonial stronghold, to the Lago de Atitlan and Panajachel which are surrounded by 3 inactive volcanoes, to the Tikal Mayan ruins, along the beautiful Rio Dulce and then to Livingston, a Caribbean Garifuna town only accessible by boat.

The weather was generally perfect and warm, with the anticipated humidity in the jungle around the Tikal Mayan ruins in the North. The highlands were a bit cooler, but nice as well.

Along our travels, we encountered many indigenous Mayan people - the women all wear beautiful colorful clothing and the Mayan people today still speak a form of the ancient Mayan language! Very cool. I always think it would be so neat to learn one of these ancient, hardly spoken, languages...(however, I still need to improve my Dutch, so I don't think I will start that anytime soon).

Last and certainly not least, the trip will forever be a memorable one because my dear Arno PROPOSED TO ME in front of one of the Tikal Mayan temples!!!!!!! It was so romantic. There was nobody else around, we were sweaty from walking in the jungle, but Arno could not have picked a better time and place to ask. A wonderful event :)

Enough of the talk, though, click here and enjoy my photos!!!!!

this little girl was so incredibly cute in her little handcarved wooden canoe that I had to photograph her. How many 5-7 year olds, or so, do you know canoe as a means of livelihood????

Photos from the Congo

Well, this post - like others - is a bit belated and will be short because there is no way I can include all of my insights and reflections in this one posting. Besides, many of you who read this have actually heard some of my thoughts from the trip.

Anyhow, it was an amazingly insightful trip and I am glad to have gone, despite getting malaria and a stomach parasite (both of which are gone now). It's an experience that may not be surpassed in my lifetime...

So, enjoy the photos. I don't have a lot of MSF's clinics and patients in the photos, but may add more in the coming month or so from a colleague's camera which I used from time to time.