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Published: October 28th 2010
Tikal - toucan
One of many toucans we saw at Tikal.
Our time in Guatemala is winding down as the summer hurricane season comes to a close in the western Caribbean. We've spent more time in Guatemala than any other country since we started cruising on s/v Bluewater Cat in 2007, yet there is still so much to see and learn about this country. We have truly fallen in love with Guatemala and are sad to see our time here come to an end. We love the people, the culture, the marina where we've been staying, and the list goes on.
Guatemala is a country of contrasts between the jungle-like terrain of eastern Guatemala where we've spent most of our time, to the cool climate of the Highlands west of us where we visited in January. The grandeur of the landscape of Guatemala is so great that it is difficult to even give it justice using mere words.
The Mayan heritage endures here with many of the indigena leading a very traditional way of life. When I take my morning walks behind Mario's Marina through the village of Esmarelda, it is like a walk back in time to a more primitive , yet more authentic existence. For weeks I wondered
We saw several of these colorful turkeys walking around freely at Tikal.
what the ladies were carrying on top of their heads in bowls every morning. Finally I realized it was just corn that had been scraped from the cob and the ladies were on their way to the village grinder to grind their corn into cornmeal. At the far edge of the village where the most disadvantaged live, I've seen the ladies wash their morning dishes in buckets outside with rainwater that has been collected overnight. I love seeing the children walking to school in the morning so fresh faced and excited about the possibilities of the upcoming day. Some wear uniforms but many of them cannot afford uniforms so they wear their usual clothes. I see one little boy wear his "Lily B. Clayton Elementary School" shirt to school some mornings and recognize that as a school in Fort Worth and can't help but wonder about the path that T-shirt took to get to Esmarelda. I've been looking at Guatemala with different eyes lately realizing that I may never be this way again and trying to savor every last bit of it. I'm definitely going to miss this place.
The history of Guatemala is very rich particularly in the
Tikal - Temple V
This temple was breathtaking as we entered the site from the jungle canopy.
rise and fall of the Maya civilization. More recent history in the past 100 years has been troubled politically with oppression of the indigenous Mayas, and with a 36 year civil war just ending in 1996. There are tremendous differences in opportunities with the gap between the "haves" and "have nots" being exceedingly wide. I've done more soul searching here than usual and ponder questions such as "How is it that I've been able to take life easy at a young age when some people die very poor never having a moment's peace about where their next meal is coming from?" Perhaps I have too much time on my hands to even be thinking about things like that. If you have an ounce of values in you though, this country will make you think along these lines.
Jimmy and I have been fortunate to visit some of the Mayan ruins in Guatemala. Earlier this summer we visited the nearby ruins of Quirigua and just last week the ruins of Tikal and also Yaxha. Tikal is a must see for anyone visiting Guatemala. It was a major power of the great Mayan empire. It is a very large excavated site
and covers over 30 square km. As you walk from one building to the next, you pass beneath the dense canopy of the jungle. Because of this, the wildlife are abundant. We saw howler monkeys, spider monkeys, toucans, oscellated turkeys, and other wildlife. The highlight for me was watching a spider monkey swinging from the trees carrying a baby on her back. How cool is that?
We are getting the boat and ourselves ready for a November departure of the river. We plan to sail the boat to Florida and spend the holidays in the U.S. Our boat has never been to the mainland U.S. so this is a first for s/v Bluewater Cat. Following the holidays we plan to spend the winter in the Bahamas.
Love and cheers to all,
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