Rivers and caves and ruins, good-bye!

Our next adventure was spending 8 hours in a minibus to Semuc Champey!

Here is Jessie by the river outside our hostel. We met Nichola Cagey and Travis there and they will have pictures of us swimming through the Las Marias caves with candles. Good times.
There were a little troop of cutter ants outside our dorm, they were hard at work!This is the Traditional Breakfast, eggs and beans, tortilla and fried plantains! Yummy!We bought quite a few of these rounds of homemade chocolate from the little kids outside our hostel. They came in cinnamon, anis, cardamon and vanilla. When we got to Antigua we hiked up Pacaya, one of the 3 active volcanoes near town.This is us with a river of lava! We also roasted a marshmellow over the hot lava!In Antigua´s Central Park there is my favorite fountain, Our Lady of Perpetual Lactation.The Chicken buses were all decked out with chrome and spinner hubcaps. There was a live nativity scene complete with wisemen on horseback and a live baby Jesus.There are so many gorgeous Spanish-style churches! Many are in ruins from the earthquakes.
We randomly became part of a parade of kids dressed up like old people dancing through town.
This is the ruin of Saint Hermano Pedro´s home church, he died in 1667 and was given sainthood by John Paul II in 2002 for his healing work. He is always pictured with a bell.

It´s Monday night and we´re mostly packed up and ready to head to the airport in the morning. We´ll be sure to post our favorite pictures when we get home ! Thanks for joining us on our trip.

Adrienne and Jessie

It's 4am @ Tikal or How Jessie made friends with a Tarantula.

The view from Flores.

We crossed the border on foot and were welcomed into Guatemala by the falling ash of burnt trash falling from the sky. And all of a sudden we didn't know how to talk to anyone! Luckily, that was last week and now our memories of Guatemala are much more fond. And our Spanish has improved, a bit. We caught a minibus to Flores, about 2.5 hrs from the border, a cute little town on an island. We arrived at night, found a place to stay and didn't make plans for the morning because I was still feeling a bit under the weather.

This is the orange lady who peels Jessie's fruit just the way she like it- for $.25!

We should have known that we couldn't stay till too long. By lunch we had gotten antsy and decided to head off for Tikal, 1 hr shuttle ride from Flores.

Temple of the Jaguar, where they buried Lord Chocolate with 16kilos of Jade jewelry.

We rented a tent with an air mattress for $10 each and dashed off into the park to see what we could see before it closed at 6pm. We found our way to the central plaza and climbed up the wooden staircase (you can't climb any of the temples now) to watch the full moon rising over the Jaguar temple. The only other person there was Fransisco, the night guard. For the past 12 years he has worked the 6pm-6am shift with 2 other guards. His English was as poor as our Spanish, but when he kept telling us we had lots of time, don't leave yet- we relaxed an enjoyed the moonlight. Then when we should have been leaving, he motioned for us to follow him to Temple 4- the largest temple in Tikal.

Our new guard friend took us up to the top of Temple 4, where we met Jerry and Mitchell from San Franciso. It was just the 5 of us, on top of this bazillion-year-old temple, watching the full moon rise. Whew. Amazing stuff. We headed back to our tent and were getting ready to go to bed without supper when our California gentlemen showed up and demanded we join them for dinner, their treat! We couldn't turn them down and had a lovely time chatting about their birding and our travels. They were lovely! Off to bed now zzzz.....

The next morning at 4am we joined our guide Reuben and 2 other couples for our Sunrise Tour of Tikal. We headed off at a fast clip, walking through the dark jungle. Reuben neglected to mention that Howler monkeys sound like growling jaguars and I about wet myself when they started staking out their territories on either side of us! By 4:30am we were sitting on top of Temple 4 and watched the fog roll out and by 6:15am the sun was blasting out of the horizon. We saw Toucans in the tops of trees and heard the Howler monkeys from a safe distance. By 7:15 it was too hot to sit in the direct sunlight and we headed down to explore the other temples.

Reuben kept sticking a long piece of grass into little holes in the ground as we walked along and he teased out a few Tarantulas! This one was a young female and she liked Jessie and didn't want to get off her arm. They can bite but Reuben says it doesn't hurt too bad. :)

We enjoyed the architecture and learned lots about the way they kept track of time with the shadows of the temples and whatnot. Reuben's take on the world ending in 2012 is this: Mayans believe in cycles. Every ending is the beginning of a new cycle. So the calendar they made finishes a cycle in 2012 and on when the rest of the world calls the next day Dec. 22nd 2012, the Mayans will call it Day One of the next cycle. Speaking of which, Jessie and I are off for our next little adventure!


Cave of the Stone Tomb

Adrienne, Carol, Eric, Whitney, Leslie and I shared a taxi from Dangriga where the boat dropped us off to San Ignacio near the boarder of Guatemala($35pp).

San Ignacio is cramped hilly town. It is low tourist season so we got hassled quite a bit but we found a get place to sign up for a cave tour. Mayawalk was so great. Owned by locals that have been doing tours for a long time. Many of the other places are owned my foreigners. Our guide, Martin was incredible.


The tour starts with a 45min walk through the jungle with a few river crossings. Once we entered the cave and got away from the light he had us hold on to the person in front of us walk in complete darkness. Creepy.

There were all sorts of stalactites/mites and crystals in the rocks that made them sparkle in the light of your headlamp.

Martin had a spotlight and would shine it on things so we could take photos and sometimes the flash worked just fine too. There were entire pots and shards everywhere. Nothing was roped off so you had to be careful in the dark of where you stepped.

We eventually came to the end of the cave tour (the actual cave kept going). We had walked a half mile into a mountain and were under 600ft of earth.

The cave was used for human sacrifices to the gods. The remains of several individuals are strewn about, again with no barriers. You can plainly see the bashed in areas of the sculls and lots of excavation has gone on so there is quite a bit of knowledge.


Change of Plans

We took a 20ft skiff for 2.5 hours out to the atoll. We were smushed in with all the supplies for the island. I absolutely enjoyed the boat ride. The one home was even better due to choppy seas. Adrienne disagrees...she does not have a water horoscope sign.

Adrienne and I ended up on a Caribbean island with 6 other people...oops. We signed up for an entire week at Glover's Atoll. It is a tiny island very far from the main land that a family owns. It is not a resort. We brought all our own food for the week. We can sign up for snorkeling, scuba, fishing, kayaking, meals....the works.

Adrienne scuba diving

They use rain water and have composting toilets. We cook with butane.

Conch Shell faucet

We have been snorkeling 3 times a day, everyday. Adrienne had been scuba diving. She is currently on a night dive. We have been hanging out with Carol and Erik (our surrogate parents from Alaska). Carol, Erik and I went deep sea fishing and caught dinner. It took both Carol and I to reel up 700ft of line with a few fish on it.

The shallow waters inside the atoll with our stormy skies.
While Fishing we saw a water spout (very far away) which is a tornado on the water...very neat.

This Eric and Carol (Warren the 17yr old son of the family who owns the island in the back) and some of the Snapper we caught for dinner. Eric and Carol whipped up some delicious curry & rice dish for us.

It got rainy and cloudy the last 2 days of our stay so we found other ways to entertain ourselves. That is as high up the tree I got, Moguli makes it looks so easy.

It was a Sunday to Sunday adventure on the island and then we are headed west towards the boarder of Guatemala.


Settlement Day Festivities:

Wednesday night the drumming started at dusk. Since the 19th was a national holiday and no one had to work, they got started partying early. Dangriga had a great vibe - since everyone was on holiday- not just us! Everyone says hello and smiles and we end up sitting on the curb watching people dance in the street before we wander on. It gets dark at 5:30pm here too! It seems unfair to have so little light in the tropics, but it is keeping me (Adrienne) from burning into a crisp. (Jessie has year-round Chaco tan-lines and a Vitamin D deficiency, so she's loving the sun.)

The locals kept insisting that we wouldn't be needing our beds that night because the party goes on until sunrise. Jessie, Abby, Janelle (our new friends from Bend, Or) and I took a taxi out to Malibu beach and waited for the band to get started...at 11:30pm- no wonder the party goes until dawn. We played cards on the beach (Abby wins!) watched 'Diamond' drum, then headed back into town. The streets were still busy with drunken festivities as Jessie and I headed back to Val's. We'd had enough Punta Rock (rap/reggae mix music and or lifestyle) for the night and the drumming outside our hostel would signal the beginning of Settlement day at sunrise.

HAPPY 19!!!

We woke up at 8am and realized that the first great thing about Settlement day was that they don't start the boat-landing ceremony right outside our hostel! Nice. We got some yummy scrambled eggs and Journey Cakes and stumbled across our new friend CJ who works at a stock photo/ web design company. He was the only float in line for the 10:00 parade... it was 10:30. We wandered down to the closed and possibly abandoned Garifuna museum then back to the parade. On the way we discovered that a bike race occured.

At around 11:30 the 10 o'clock parade was under way. We made our way to the beginning of the parade so we did not miss anything.

Jessie's favorite part was the Chinese float. They had firecrackers, gongs and these fancy dancing dragons.

The parade concluded with a Punta Rock float sponsored by Western Union. The entire town followed this last float in a huge loop dancing all the way. We did our best to keep up but they teach these kids young how to shake their money maker.


Viva Belize - Day 1.5

Adrienne and I Reached Belize City @ 4pm yesterday and found a ride to the bus station. We took the 5:15pm bus to Dangriga on an old USA school bus for 2 hours. Upon arrival in Dangriga we found Val's and signed up for bunk beds for 2 nights ($44us).

Garifuna Settlement Day is the 19th and the celebration is really just a 3 day party. We made it just in time.

Next stop after this is Tobacco Caye for some snorkeling and ocean time while we recover from the Settlement Day festivities.

We have eaten some good seafood already and expect more to come. -Red Snapper


Sisterly Soiree

My big sister Adrienne and I have a 3 week trip planned to Belize and Guatemala. We leave in a week!

Blue Hole - Belize

Belize is first. Beach, snorkel, swim, sand and maybe some rum. Belize is known for it's caves and jaguars, both of which are on our "to do" list.


Guatemala is known for it's volcanoes and brightly colored woven textiles.


Tikal in northern Guatemala is famous for the mayan ruins.
Tikal - Guatemala

We are still working out an itinerary. We are starting in Belize and working our way to Antigua, Gua where we fly home from. We plan to do the budget tourist trail of things : ruins, snorkel, volcano, cave tubing, jaguar reserve....

If anyone has any suggestions please share.

Adrienne and I will update the blog as we go when we get the chance.