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Guatemala: 14 Days, 10 People, One bus

Our trip to Guatemala was wonderful. Six adults, 4 kids between the ages of 10 and almost 15 (one boy, three girls) and our driver, Nemecio. One fabulous blue bus that we dubbed La Gua-Gua Azul. An ongoing search for a strong cup of coffee (we were told that Guatemala exports its best coffee; dang). The delicious black beans that sidled alongside the scrambled eggs at breakfast. The charm and beauty of Antigua, ringed by volcanoes. The sprawling shanty-town feel of the capitol. The greasy deliciousness of ‘Pollo Campero’, their version of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The wildness that is the marketplace of Chichicastenango, and seeing the gringos towering over the locals, the whole thing sandwiched between the catholic church and mayan temple, eternally facing off.

The landscape: lush, verdant, yet hiding a history rife with violence. Sacred Lake Atitlan and the street hustlers of Santiago. The sweet, undulating Rio Dulce and the wild open waters of the Bay of Honduras. We never did get to Belize, but we did have a memorable night being storm-tossed in our boat. Our stay at Shanty Town, cabins built on docks on the banks of Lago Izabal. The walk through the jungle on a suspension bridge to the ‘Shaman’s Tower’. The walk back down, through the rubber plantation, with a stop to swim in a spring-fed pool. The warnings issued before that walk to stay in pairs in case we encountered snakes with deadly venom, or the African bees that attack. The ‘happening’ town of Flores. Tikal.

Ahh, Tikal… The Mayan pyramids. The great, sacred Ceiba trees. The tarantulas, the monkeys, and watching the sun set and the moon rise from high up on one of the temples. I would go back to Tikal in a heartbeat. There is a lot to see, and there is a lot to just ‘feel’.

There is a lot, too, to digest from this trip. I was a bit of an emotional wreck when we departed, and I came back feeling much more whole, solid, organized, focused. I dove right back into teaching, within hours of arriving back in San Miguel, and was then slammed into submission by what feels like the flu. More contemplative bed time? I’ll take it.

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