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|Traveling without destination|
Guatemala is a Central American country located between the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean with an endless amount of Mayan ruins, most of which are still waiting to see the light of day. It also contains thirty-seven volcanoes (four of which were active during our visit), several tropical jungles where those interested in nature can see various wild animals from toucans to jaguars, more colonial towns than we can count, and a capital with all the amenities a visitor could want. The Guatemalans we met received us with the affection and respect typical of all Latin America.
|Volcán de Agua, seen from the City of Guatemala|
To those that have never been to Guatemala before there are usually four places which are recommended to see first. We only made it to three of them, giving us a valid excuse to return. Next time we will make sure we get to see Lake Atitlan. The other three places though we fully explored on this trip. Please remember we are not travel agents nor are we trained as tourist guides, we are regular people just having fun.
When we landed in this country somebody from the tourist agency was already waiting for us. In the US our travel agent had contracted guides for us to be picked up at the airport, then two days later taken to Tikal, and on the last day give us a ride back to the airport. But Señor Mendoza, who was waiting for us when we arrived, was so willing to please and Señorita Cristina, taking care of our arrangements, was so efficient and courteous that we decided to let them pamper us for the entire four days. In retrospect, home in Miami, we can honestly say, that was the best course of action we could have taken. On the bottom of this page you may find a link to their site on the Web.
We arrived at 1:00 am, so later that same day, after the sun had come out and the day activities had begun, we went on a tour of Guatemala City, capital of Guatemala. First we went sightseeing Downtown, then visited the Mapa en Relieve which is a three dimensional map of the country. Our third visit, the Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología (Archeological Museum,) is a must see for those interested in Mayan culture. Finally we went to the zoo which was in excellent condition. When we returned to the hotel we could hardly walk, but then again we are not the athletic type.
On the next day we went to the not too distant City of Antigua. Antigua, meaning old, is called this because it used to be the capital of Guatemala. There we were able to relax and interact with the local populace. We also visited a couple of nearby towns, a jade factory, a typical dress maker, and some other artisan shops. We were offered to go up a volcano, well, at least go to where the trail starts, but we pass on this one so that we could stay in town and enjoy the hospitality.
|Mayan ruins in Tikal|
The third day we started early and went to Tikal. It was a good thing we had comfortable shoes and were willing to climb. The stairs of the pyramids and other uncovered ruins were of stone, of those still covered by the jungle were of wood, and all of them were steep. In some places the trails are well adapted for walking, like streets or side walks, but our guide wanted to make us feel as we were discovering the pyramids so he took us through the rough jungle trails, beautiful but way beyond our league. When we returned to the hotel in Guatemala City that night, our legs were gone.
The last day we stayed in Guatemala City, looking for information and buying some souvenirs. As always, this last day was the best although a little sad because we were having such a good time. In conclusion, our visit was not finished and we will go back someday to do so.
|Souvenirs, plenty of them in Guatemala|
We were told there are numerous tourist guides, about one hundred just in the area of Tikal, and even more in Guatemala City. The official language in Guatemala is Spanish, but many of the guides speak several languages, including English. In the hotels English is also spoken, we don't know if other languages are spoken as well.
|A church from colonial times in Guatemala|
Should you ever visit Guatemala, all we can say is that we wish you a trip as pleasing as ours.
Information, pictures, maps, flags and everything in the Web
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