Señora Kirk

Senora Kirk

Señora Kirk

Hola amigos, I went to Guatemala from June 18-July 10, 2012- click through the days to follow my travels!

This blog was inspired by my students. My hope for you is that if you ever have the opportunity to travel, you take it and you let your wings soar.

"We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." -Maya Angelou

Some hilights of my last days in Guatemala City: -Going to a 4th of July cookout with Americans (and a Canadian) from my sister's school -Walking Reforma, a local street they close to traffic on Sundays so that people can walk, run, or bike -Going out to thai food and sushi to mix things up! -Buying all the coffee and refried black beans I could fit in my suitcase from the supermercado :) One of the very best things I did on the trip was visit my sister's school. I spent all day Friday with her in pre-k. The students are taught 75% in English and 25% in Spanish. When my sister got them, they didn't know any English, and now they understand everything she says. Since I was a visitor, I was allowed to speak ... read more
The Girls

We caught a shuttle to Monterrico, a little town on the Pacific Coast, this morning. Unlike El Salvador and Costa Rica, Guatemala is not known for its beaches. They have black sand, due to the volcanic ash, and it can get very hot during the day- wearing sandles is definitely recommended! Also, the undertow of the ocean is extremely strong- there are warnings everywhere not to swim deep. Although there is not too much to the town of Monterrico, the hostels are great places to relax. Ours had many ocean-front spots, including their restaurant, lounge area, and hammock area. I have combined all of the days in Monterrico into one entry, because this part of the trip was for relaxing. Besides trying to conquer the Pacific, we ate lots of cerviche, took a tour of the ... read more
Barbed Wire?
Pacific Ocean
Mangrove Swamps

Another day exploring Antigua today. This is such a beautiful city. All of the buildings are such beautiful colors. I will let pictures speak for the majority of this town. At 2pm, we took a tour to hike the Pacaya Volcano. It is one of two active volcanoes in Guatemala. I misunderstood and thought that we would see red lava flowing down, but that is not the case. Apparently, red lava only flows if it is about to erupt. The last eruption of Pacaya was in 2010, and it was catastrophic. Hundreds of houses in the towns surrounded the volcano were demolished (I was surprised so many people live on/around the volcano...seems like a non-ideal location). The ashes from the eruption went as far as 10 hours away. We were able to see the pool of ... read more
Chips and Salsa

Today, we went to Antigua, the old capital city. To get there, we took a chicken bus. Chicken buses are old American school buses that are sold to Guatemala, fixed up, and painted crazy colors. You can take them almost everywhere, and it is definitely an experience. It was a shaky ride, with people stepped on every few miles to try to sell all kinds of things (candy, mints, toys). The first thing we did was hike Cerro de la Cruz for a beautiful view of the city. Luckily, it was market day in Antigua, so our next stop was to do some bartering! Cultural Note -In Guatemala, bartering is a given. You ask how much something costs, but the first price they tell you is always too high. You say a lower number and keep ... read more
Market Day

Today was the day we left Lanquin to head back to the city. Our shuttle was crowded, but everyone ws nice. Most people we meet are traveling for a minimum of 7-8 weeks, but many are traveling 9 monthes or more. It is amazing. I wish it were more common for Americans to do trips like this. The majority of people we meet are from other countries and speak multiple languages. I think we have a lot to learn from them. I spent the majority of the ride talking to an Israeli girl. I was amazed at how much she knew of American politics and ashamed of how little I knew of hers. She was surprised that I was already teaching and explained to me that in Israel, ever citizen enters the army at 18 (boys ... read more

This morning, I ordered my first "tipico," the typical breakfast in Guatemala. It consists of eggs, refried black beans, queso fresco, tortillas, and plantains- so delicious! Then, we hung around reading in the hammocks. Later on, we explored the town. I found a woman selling homemade Mayan clothing and bought a beautiful teal top. Cultural Notes -They say you can tell what region a Mayan woman is from based on her top. Since it is hot and humid in Lanquin, the women wear thiner, lace tops (over another shirt); in the cooler city, the cloth is thicker and made with multicolored patterns.... read more

Our hostel, Zephyr Lodge, is beautifully located in the middle of a mountainous jungle. The views from everywhere are fantastic. We caught an 8:30am tour to Semuc Champey, which is Mayan for "water running under rocks." Semuc Champey is supposed to be one of the prettiest natural wonderlands in the world. It began with us all piling in the back of a truck for a bumpy, hour-long, standing ride. We arrived, left all our of stuff, received a candle, and headed for the bat caves. It was pitch-black without the light from our candle. We swam, climbed, and jumped through the tunnels of the cave. This is definitely one of the most amazing excursions I have ever done. After the caves, we headed to the rope swing and bridge jump. The rope swing was amazing. You ... read more
Zephyr Dorms
River Swing Jump
Bridge Jump

Goodbye, Flores- hello, winding, mountain roads. Today, we took a nine hour bus trip on a shuttle to our next destination. Although the ride was scenic, it was quite bumpy. We encountered numerous speed bumps, as there are many villages interspersed throughout the mountains. Women climb the steep roads on a cliff with their market goods, and children play nearby, so speedbumps were placed all along the route for the villagers safety. I am glad they are all safe, but it sure made for a crazy ride. Our shuttle stopped in Coban for lunch at McDonalds. Of all places, I'm sure he thought, Ï bet these Americans would love some McDonalds!" I wasn't too happy, but it ended up being a great cultural learning opportunity. Right when we walked in, I saw a crowd of people ... read more
View from the Road
Happy Meal

This morning, we decided to eat breakfast out instead of the usual granola bars. I had delicious papaya, pineapple, and banana served over yogurt and granola. The local fruits are amazing. While we ate, big lizzards ran by and baby chickens roamed. Everywhere you eat here has the most amazing view. In the afternoon, we met up with my sister's friends from school and went exploring the top of the town and swimming at the dock. We followed one of the many side streets up to a wonderful discovery. At the top, was a tiny little town- a local church, school, and park. One of Jessie's friends, Luisa, told us that every municipalidad is requried to have a park/plaza that they maintain. I love that idea and would love to see it adopted in the United ... read more
View from Breakfast
View from the Top
View from Top 2

We woke up early this morning to go to Tikal, some of the largest Mayan ruins in the world. Tikal did not disappoint; it was amazing. I felt dwarfed next to the grandness of the temples. Standing there, you could just imagine life back when the Mayan empire thrived. We saw ritual sites as well as old rock carvings. There were also monkeys swinging around, and we are pretty sure we heard jaguars! However, the most incredible site was the view from Temple IV. That is one of the three temples visitors rae allowed to climb, and the view is unbeatable. On a side note, when we were up on top of Temple IV, a little girl, probably 4 years old, said to her family with her hands of her hips, "?Quien quiere hacer canopy?" (Who ... read more
View from Temple IV

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