The rest of the story

A few entries back I mentioned that I saw a guacamaya flying in the city and that it was very rare. As sychronicity would have it, we spent the last weekend of our stay in Guatemala at Lake Atitlan with some friends we met through the American Guatemalan Society. Over cocktails, I mentioned to one of the other guests, whom I had never met, that I had seen this guacamaya flying toward me near the airport. He looked at me and said, “I may know who that guacamaya belongs to. My dad lives just behind your apartment building and his neighbor lost her guacamaya and she is very distraught over it.”

What are the odds? I ask you. What are the odds?

When we parted ways on Sunday, I gave him my card. On Monday evening around 8pm, while packing for our 6am flight, I got a phone call from someone who was very excited and speaking very rapidly. I couldn’t determine if she was speaking english or spanish, but finally was able to pluck out the words, “American Gautemalan Society…guacamaya…” and I knew who was on the other end of the line. It was the woman who was looking for her guacamaya. Again, there was a hemmorage of words delivered at a fever-pitch. I told her what I knew about the bird and that I thought it was possible that it was roosting on the top floor of my building, but that I was leaving the country bright and early the next day.

What could I do? She had been to the store and bought all the bird’s favorite foods, peanuts, mini-banannas, granola, Maseca (corn tortilla flour). I told her she could come over and I’d take her to the top floor to check it out. Of course, she had to pass two security guards to get in the building. I am still wondering what they thought.

The odessy began. My doorbell buzzed and when I opened the door, there stood Charro. If you are too young to know who Charro is, I’ve included a picture courtesy Wikipedia. There is just no better way to describe this woman from her appearance to her energy.

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/15/Charo_black_dress.jpg

She was a perfectly delightful, flaky in a new age sort of way, 49 year old “Charro.” She buzzed around my apartment, pausing only to hug me again and again, and spoke in perfect english. She explained to me that she had rescued two guacamayas from a pet store in zone one. They, like most guacamaya, were in small, smelly cages and had their wings hacked off. I don’t know what she paid for them, but I know they ‘aint cheep. She took them home, never put them in a cage and began to nurse them back to health. Her idea was to let their wings regrow and to release them somewhere along the coast of Belize. I don’t know for certain how long into this process she was, but it was more than a year.

During that time, she always let the birds fly freely in her back yard as they tried out every millimeter of their new wing feathers. As the months went by, the birds flew farther and farther, but would always come home to roost and eat…until they didn’t. She shared with me that her greatest fear was not that the bird was gone, but that she would be captured and put in a cage again. She had actually recovered one bird that one of the workers in the area captured and sold. This woman is quite the detective and had tracked down the bird through random leads and talking to the maids at nearby houses.

It was an hour before I could get her to go up to the roof with all the little prepared bird treats. We hid the food so the bird could find it but the maintenance guys would not. As I said, these birds are worth a lot of money and the temptation to capture and sell the bird would be too great for most workers to resist. After we placed the food in just the right spot. I turned to her and said, “This is my last night in Guatemala.” I looked up at the diamond studded night sky, then turned to the hulking shadows of the volcanoes. I considered the simple beauty of all the little lights up the mountain and watched them twinkle at me for the last time. Then, I walked to the edge of the roof and looked down at the city below, an ever bustling, never ending cauldron of activity, boiling over with people. It was a peaceful moment and I took a deep, deep breath to take it all in. To take it all with me. I closed my eyes and felt the breeze lifting the little hairs on my arms. Reflex created goosebumps on my arms and I felt deeply present in that moment that would not have happened if Charro had not lost her bird. Charro seemed to intuit that I was in my own space and she fell silent, too. I thought of my mother, I felt intense gratitude at my own freedom and I cried silent tears.

I don’t know if Charro ever found her guacamaya, but I will never forget my last night in Guatemala City thanks to her.

Guatemala, we miss you already

As many of you may know, we were called back to the States earlier than we had planned, so I am writing from Norman, Oklahoma. Our final week in Guatemala was fabulous as we visited Lake Atitlan with friends and stayed in Panajachel. The lake itself is beautiful and in the afternoons, as the clouds lowered over the volcanoes, it had a very mystical feel. The sunsets were beautiful and  evocative. https://i1.wp.com/z.about.com/d/gocentralamerica/1/0/M/-/-/-/HPIM0062.JPG

I’ve got more photos to post from our final week in Guatemala so check back soon or you can see them on my Facebook page.

It’s 3:00am and I can’t sleep

Since I can’t sleep, I thought that I’d write a blog entry. Right now, I can hear motor cycles speeding up and down the Avenue. They are the guys who deliver the morning paper to all of the apartment buildings around us. I’m not sure how it works, but somehow the paper magically appears at our neighbors door every morning. I leave for work by about 6:30am and his paper is always right outside his door. We don’t take the paper as it is entirely in spanish. However, to that point, I have to say that my spanish comprehension is improving to the point that I can understand about 80% of what I read and hear. Putting a sentence together is still a challenge for me, but I’m improving.

It’s been a real adventure for us to live in such a big city. I’ve enjoyed it very, very much and it has been an experience that will obviously be a memory of a lifetime. We have decided not to return after our trip home to see Heather graduate. Our plan is to spend the summer on the lake and take it easy. I can work from anywhere with my computer and Skype, so there is no point in staying here. I miss my family and my stupid cats, Harley and Davidson. They have been staying with Jerry’s daughter and I’m grateful for her support with that. 

These are my daughters and my cats. Notice that I placed the girls first. Mother love, what can I say?

 

We call this the "infamous sister pic" because it's appeared everywhere, even on a blanket they had made for me one Christmas. From l to r, Brooke (#3), Jennifer (#1), Heather (#5), Stephanie (#2) and Hillary (#4)

We call this the "infamous sister pic" because it's appeared everywhere, even on a blanket they had made for me one Christmas. From l to r, Brooke (#3), Jennifer (#1), Heather (#5), Stephanie (#2) and Hillary (#4)

 

 

 

This is Davidson snuggled up with Jerry on the houseboat

This is Davidson snuggled up with Jerry on the houseboat

 

Harley with Davidson in the background

Harley with Davidson in the background

We have enjoyed the balcony of our apartment and often have coffee and cocktails there as we look out over the city. Yesterday evening was a great time to be outside, spending time together and just relaxing. Notice that I have wine and Jerry has a new adult beverage we made up on accident. It’s freshly sqeezed Limon (limes, they don’t have yellow lemons here) made into limonade, and Guatemalan rum. Kind of like a whiskey sour, I guess. Anyway, it’s pretty good!

 

Mary at cocktail hour on the apartment balcony

Mary at cocktail hour on the apartment balcony

One day last week I was standing on the balcony, looking at the airport. We are so close that we can watch every plane, large and small and every helecopter landing and taking off. So, I was watching a flock of black birds flying around near the runway and thinking of the birdstrike that brought down the plane in NYC, when they started flying toward me. Remember that we are on the 10th floor. As they got closer to me, it seemed as if one of them might have red on its head. That bird and one other flew directly toward me, coming within about 20 feet before it flew straight up and over our apartment building. It was a guacamaya or macaw in the City, flying freely as if it were in the jungle. Very rare. Jerry actually caught a glipse of it the next day, but we haven’t seen it since. 

Now it’s 4:00am and I still can’t sleep. The city is beginning to wake up as I hear the traffic starting down the avenue below. Pretty soon the red buses will begin their routes and they will barely slow down to let people on, while a guy stands at the door shouting for people to hurry. It’s crazy how many people they cram into one bus. Seriously! It is not unusual to see people standing, all crammed together I might add, at the back door, hanging on to a rail and hanging out of the bus. I often wonder how many people are injured in the process. I did learn that the red buses are public and the fancy, tricked out buses are privately owned and operated.  They all spew black smoke out of the tail-pipe because they aren’t properly maintained. I just hate that part because it’s difficult to see such a place of magnificent natural beauty being so poluted.

Driving here is another adventure that I’ve written about before, but now that we’ve been here for a few months, driving everyday (Jerry drives), it is absolutely insane. For instance, if you want to make a right turn and you’re in the left lane, no problem. You just cut across and in front of someone who may or may not honk their horn. Mostly they don’t care too much and I suppose there exists some kind of unstated agreement among drivers. Beats me, but I know it will be an adjustment to drive in the States again, what with all those silly and enforced traffic laws and all!

I’m still not sleepy, but I’ve written enough for now. I think I’ll try reading some more of Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged. That might put me right to sleep! Just kidding.

One more pic

 

These vendors come to your front door, fillet the red snapper, peal and de-head the shrimp and put it in a plastic bag for you. Notice the scales by the woman. First class operation!

These vendors come to your front door, fillet the red snapper, peal and de-head the shrimp and put it in a plastic bag for you. Notice the scales by the woman. First class operation!

Sunday, Sunday

Jerry took some great pictures this week of some of the people we see living and working here on a daily basis. These are the far extreme from the executives  I have been working with, but they are the fabric of an underclass that is essential to the local economy. The most interesting thing to me is that they are always happy, or at least they always have a smile on their faces. I find it doubtful that I would be able to smile or feel joy if I were to be suddenly thrust into their shoes and their lives. We love Guatemala for its people from every walk of life that we have been exposed to and we feel a sincere sense of gratitude for each and every person we have had the privilege to meet.

 

Front doors to the lobby area of our  apartment after two security points

Front doors to the lobby area of our apartment after two security points. An example of the predominant use of teak for doors and windows. What would that cost in the USA?

 

Jerry's new friend, the motorcycle security guard. Notice the machete under his hand

Jerry's new friend, the motorcycle security guard. Notice the machete under his hand

Copper doors on a residence down the street

Copper doors on a residence down the street

 

Bronze skillet at an antique shop. Jerry says it's very heave! Its price is $160US

Bronze skillet at an antique shop. Jerry says it's very heavy! Its price is $160US

 

Street vendor selling fruits and all kinds of nuts. He's on the street early every morning to catch his regular customers on their way to work at the many construction sites nearby

Street vendor selling fruits and all kinds of nuts. He's on the street early every morning to catch his regular customers on their way to work at the many construction sites nearby

 

Hungry for a Big Mac but just don't want to get out? No problem here, they deliver!

Hungry for a Big Mac but just don't want to get out? No problem here, they deliver!

 

The use of teak in construction of nice homes is surprising to us. These are garage doors that are made entirely of teak. Everything is so well maintained here that it's difficult to know how old the doors are.

The use of teak in construction of nice homes is surprising to us. These are garage doors that are made entirely of teak. Everything is so well maintained here that it's difficult to know how old the doors are.

 

This is Oscar the security guard. Jerry is trying to teach him English.

This is Oscar the security guard. Jerry is trying to teach him English.

 

This is a typical site, beautiful flowers along the fence of a private home that has razor ribbon at the top. Actually, most houses have walls instead of a fence

This is a typical sight, beautiful flowers along the fence of a private home that has razor ribbon at the top. Actually, most houses have walls instead of a fence

 

Meet Antonio, the security guard who is posted at a college just behind our apartment building. Jerry sees him several times a day and he is always smiling and laughing. He understand NO english at all but they have worked out a hand gesture system. He works about 12 hour days, just standing there with his shotgun

Meet Antonio, the security guard who is posted at a college just behind our apartment building. Jerry sees him several times a day and he is always smiling and laughing. He doesn't understand english at all but they have worked out a hand gesture system. He works about 12 hour days, just standing there with his shotgun

 

Another street vendor, notice the woman in the apron, she is selling home-made tortillas to the guards.

Another street vendor, notice the woman in the apron, she is selling home-made tortillas to the guards.

Sun setting over volcanoes

Sun setting over volcanoes

 

large playground, about 2 blocks square. They have soccer (futbal) fields, volleyball, music. Just a fun place for locals to go. I don't think gringos like us would fit in very well there.

large playground, about 2 blocks square. They have soccer (futbal) fields, volleyball, music. Just a fun place for locals to go. I don't think gringos like us would fit in very well there.

 

Street vendor with her basket of tortillas on her head

Street vendor with her basket of tortillas on her head

Fuego eruption at sunset

Fuego eruption at sunset

 

street vendor on to the next stop with basket on her head. It's crazy how much they can carry on top of their heads. We saw a woman with a stack of newspapers about 3 feet high, crossing one of the busiest streets, Los Proceros

street vendor on to the next stop with basket on her head. It's crazy how much they can carry on top of their heads. We saw a woman with a stack of newspapers about 3 feet high, crossing one of the busiest streets, Los Proceros

Ruins of aquaducts built in mid-1750's. We drive under them everyday on the way to work

Ruins of aquaducts built in mid-1750's. We drive under them everyday on the way to work

 

Lobster anyone? Here, you can get about anything you want from your car window at stop signs. These fishermen were selling lobsters and shrimp. There is also a guy who comes around on Tuesdays selling octopus, jumbo shrimp, squid and fresh red snapper.

Lobster anyone? Here, you can get about anything you want from your car window at stop signs. These fishermen were selling lobsters and shrimp. There is also a guy who comes around on Tuesdays selling octopus, jumbo shrimp, squid and fresh red snapper.

Photo update and notes

I finally took time to upload the photos we’ve taken over the last few weeks. We’ve had a good time and the weather has been wonderful. Lush, green grass and palm trees are pretty hard to beat! It almost makes walking down the dock to the houseboat in December worth it…almost!

Jerry has been on a few adventures of his own, that I really want him to write about…but nothing from him yet. I’ll give you an idea. When he picked me up from work a few days ago, he told me that he had seen a couple loaded down with back packs at the grocery store, so OF COURSE he stopped to talk to them and found out that they have been back packing around the world over the past year. They’ve been to Cambodia, Australia, all over asia, South America, working their way to North America. They are from Minnisota. He brought them home with him and fed them lunch, then drove them acrosse town to a not-so-nice part of town where they could catch a chicken-coup bus to Antigua, then on to Atitlan and Pacaya. 

I am understanding more Spanish everyday and Jerry is too. We still have sooo much to learn. Jerry has been a reading fool! I don’t even know how many books he’s read since we’ve been here. It still strikes me as unusual. But, he seems to enjoy the time to read without the pressure of a thousand erands to run and a lot of projects making demands on his time. He misses his buddies, though. You all know who you are!

We attended a reception at the American Ambassador’s home last week and met some very nice people, so we are making friends here. I met some people from the American Embassy, local business owners and others who are a part of the American Guatemalan community. 

 

View from 16th floor

View from 16th floor

Just a swingin'

Just a swingin'

No clue-I was at work!! Jerry's adventure shot I guess

No clue-I was at work!! Jerry's adventure shot I guess

Happy Valentine's Day Jerry!

Street view--those motorcycles!!!!!!!!!!

Street view--those motorcycles!!!!!!!!!!

Mary in her oficina

Mary in her oficina

Jerry's new friends, Jason and Lorna. They are have been back packing around the world for about a year. Jerry found them at the grocery store and brought them home for lunch!

Jerry's new friends, Jason and Lorna. They have been back packing around the world for about a year. Jerry found them at the grocery store and brought them home for lunch!

 

Beer anyone? I'll share!

Beer anyone? I'll share!

Big ole tree trunk

Big ole tree trunk

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day

Mary and Nancy at the ofincina

Mary and Nancy at the ofincina

 

Beer and Wings-Happy Valentine's Day!

Beer and Wings-Happy Valentine's Day!

Up on the roof view

Up on the roof view

Quick update

The weeks have been really flying by since I started work on January 12th. Much of my time is spent working, but we make time every weekend to get out and about and have fun. There are so many wonderful places to explore here that even a Saturday walk yeilds new discoveries around every corner. We feel very safe to walk all over our large neighborhood and it is rich in both culture and modern shops. I’m feeling more comfortable with the armed guard in front of every business. I don’t really notice them most of the time. When I do, I see that they, too are a part of this interesting and emerging country. The bottom line is that in Guatemala, security is largely a private industry and a BIG one.

We have gotten into a daily routine that is comforting, but thrilling at the same time. Business is growing and we are working to get our new website launched. We are very blessed and happy and enjoying the weather. Speaking of weather, I read online about the tornadoes in OKC area this afternoon and I hope that everyone is safe and well. We send our best to you all.

Check back in a few days for new photo uploads.

Quick facts about Guatemala

tikal-national-park-2.jpg

Located 548km (341 miles) north of Guatemala City, the ancient site of Tikal was once home to an estimated 100,000 Maya. Unlike many other ancient Mayan sites, the wonders of Tikal are hidden deep within the rainforest. Every year, visitors come to gaze at its towering 70m- (230ft) high pyramid and ancient plazas to the accompaniment of jungle sounds. The site has more than 3000 structures including temples and palaces and is located in Tikal National Park, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to many species of wildlife. There is also an on-site museum, which contains a collection of objects found during excavations at the site. 

Photo Gallery

Museum visit
Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum visiting the Nobel Peace Center in September 2006.
Copyright © Nobel Peace Center 2006
Photo: Kirsti Svenning

Volcan Tajumulco (4,211 m) is the highest point in Guatemala. There are over thirty-three volcanoes in Guatemala. Pacaya and Fuego are active volcanoes near Guatemala City. Lake Izabal is Guatemala’s largest lake. The Maya people were early inhabitants of Guatemala. They also lived in southern Mexico, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras. Tikal was inhabited by the Maya from the sixth century BC to the tenth century AD. El Mirador, covering around sixteen square kilometers, is one of the largest known Maya sites. The Maya people were skilled in engineering, architecture and astronomy. Popul Vuh is the the history of the Quiche people, written in the sixteenth century. In 1524 Pedro de Alvarado defeated the Maya and Guatemala became a Spanish colony. Guatemala gained independence from Spain in 1821 but was annexed by Mexico. Following independence from Mexico, Guatemala joined Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua in the United Provinces of Central America. Guatemala became a fully independent country in 1839. Towards the end of the nineteenth century American businessmen invested in banana plantations in Guatemala. After the Second World War governments forced plantation owners to sell unused land back to Guatemala for redistribution to landless peasants. Land reform in Guatemala came to an end in 1954 following a military coup. A civil war, lasting thirty-six years, was formally ended in 1996. Rigoberta Menchu, a campaigner for Mayan rights, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.

Pictures of Earthquakes
“Mole track” across the soccer field at Gualan consisting of en echelon fissures and connecting pressure ridges along the trace of the Motagua fault. Displacement at this locality is over 3 feet (93 centimeters) left lateral. 1976.

It is estimated that twenty-seven thousand people died in an earthquake in Guatemala in 1976. Around two hundred and seventy people in Guatemala were killed by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. In October 2005 hundreds of people were killed in landslides and floods caused by the tropical storm Stan.

Mayan Indians walk through the mud in Panabaj, Guatemala

The search for survivors 

Surf’s up and there’s black sand, too!

The work week went by quickly. We added two new corporate clients which is an additional 14/15 people plus the corporate sessions. We are busy, but I can honestly say that I have never been more satisfied with my working life and my career. It is a constant inspiration to me to see this work taken to the corporate level and I am personally compelled to continue my own personal growth. What we do with our brand of coaching is not the normal workshop or seminar or even week-long intensive training. We work with the core person and help them reveal aspects of themselves that have been long forgotten but are running their lives at work and at home. We take them through a 12 or 16 week process in which they gain education, awareness and tools to create the life they choose. It is the only process for sustainable growth that I am aware of. But, enough about work.

We had the opportunity to go to the beach this weekend and it was a trip I will NEVER forget. The trip out of the City and through the country side was full of surprises such as homes that have palm thatched roofs…you know, the kink you see at a Carribean resort covering the bar. The difference is that these are homes, both small and large, that use interwoven palm leaves laced artfully on palm beams as quite literally the roofs over their heads. It is still done the way it has always been done since the Mayans.

Our friends told us that we would have to drive our car on a ferry to take us down the river to the location of the resort. We followed them in our car and took in the culture. We came along side a river with some handmade, wooden boats scattered along the banks. We noted that some of them were large, low and flat. These had a single outboard motor mounted on the back. We stopped for a moment then were motioned forward by a local man. He laid out two  2×12 boards connecting this odd looking boat with the shore in front of us, then motioned for us to move forward. It suddenly occurred to us that this was the barge. It was big enough for our little white car and an Explorer, which was our friends car. The guy on the shore pulled up the 2×12 boards, threw them on the boat and the next thing we knew we were motoring down a river. It felt like I was lost in an episode of “The African Queen.”  Did I mention there was water in the bottom of the boat? Well, there was.

The river trip took about 30 minutes and we passed other boats with cars and/or people and a few fisherman who were throwing out a net. Finally, we saw another shore and our “captain” eased us up close enough that a new guy on the shore could readh the 2x12s that were now going to be our way off the boat….backwards. I told Jerry that I bet none of his truck driving buddies ever had to back up off a boat on a couple of boards.

I asked our friend to give me some historical background on the ruins of an aquaduct system that I have seen in Guatemala City. He told me that they aren’t really that old, only a few hundred years or so, since the capital was moved from Antigua to Guatemala City after the eruption of Volcan de Aqua and eath quakes destroyed the city. I thought about that for a moment and then I thought about how old the United States is and the contrast between what we each considered “old” was startling. I have always known we are a young country and have seen ancient ruins across the pond before, but the thought that someday there might be ruins of old cities in North America seems alien to me.

The beach is only about 90 miles away and it is an entirely different world. The climate is about 20 degrees F warmer for starters. It was about 90 degrees F. I was in heaven just to feel the strength and warth of the sun on my face. We stayed at a very small resort there where there are about 20 individual huts or cabins. Each has a front porch complete with hammock and chairs and are topped with the palm roofs I mentioned. Our cottage had two big king beds and one single and a bath with a large shower. There were two beautiful pools, lush  and well manicured grounds, a bar and a wonderful restaurant. Situated right on the beach, the view was spectacular! Black sand and blue water. I’ve never seen black sand before and it is simply beautiful. 

The highlight of the day on Saturday for me was when we walked down the beach to a sea turtle rescue facility. Giant sea turtles have been returning to this beach for hundreds of years to lay there eggs. Because the eggs have little chance of surviving the preditors of the beach, like us for example, they dig the eggs up, hundreds of them and rebury them inside the safety of the sanctuary. As the eggs hatch, the tiny sea turtles are liberated. We were told that only about 20% will live to adulthood, but in about 5 years or so, those survivors will be back to lay there eggs in the exact same spot from where they were liberated. 

The sanctuary has an adoption program, meaning for a donation people can liberate a tiny turtle or two. The event takes place at sunset, giving the little guys a chance to make it. It was humbling for me to hold this tiny creature in my hands and know that it must find its way in a giant ocean. I whispered my wishes for a long life and let my turtle go…I liberated him and he heading straight toward the pounding surf, not knowing why, but knowing that he must. I was reminded that nature is both beautiful and brutal. My little turtle marched bravely toward the surf, over the black sand along with a hundred or so fellow hatchlings and when they got close enough the sweeping hand of the surf reached out to them and lifted them up for a moment, then pulled them into the the waiting water. 

Here are some pics of the excursion back in time. We had a blast!!

How’s the weather there?

We’ve been reading about the weather in central Oklahoma all this week. At first I thought it was much ado about nothing as usual, but as I see photos of traffic accidents and news of people without power, I decided to check it out. I hope everyone is doing fine and staying warm. One good thing about the cold is that it is always so much fun to build a fire. That’s definitely one of my favorite things to do in winter. However, on the way to work this morning, I told Jerry that I was really glad to be here where the weather is always moderate and the flora and fauna are always green and in bloom. I told him if we were in Oklahoma right now, I’d be ready to slit my wrists! After a day or two, I am DONE! Next, depression moves in if I’m not careful. It’s best for me to go south during winter. I am feeling great and so is Jerry.

I want to make a correction regarding my blog on our Antigua adventure. It is not zone 11, which is a perfectly nice zone, that one must avoid. It’s more like zones 1 and 3. It ends up that I freaked out for nothing. We were perfectly safe. Geeeez, you’d think I’d learn the neighborhood already! Of course, this is a very, very large neighborhood!

We had an adventure of sorts last night. A neighbor from our building (whom we met along with his wife in the elevator) stopped by to leave us his card. We invited him in for a glass of wine and he called his wife to come up and join us. Fascinating young man, very wise and full of energy and a source of a wealth of information about all things Guatemala. Jerry mentioned his afternoon visits to Hooter’s and the next thing we knew we were in the car with them in search of the perfect “wings.” It was probably about 7:30pm, and we went to la zona viva and scored some mighty good wings and a beer.

Then we went on a brief tour of the city and it was a blast. We went into several different districts and saw very beautiful places in unexpected locations that only a local would know and we saw very dark places and some things just in between. Our guide took us to the scary zone and it was after dark obviously. I kept thinking….well, he has his young wife with him so surely he won’t take us anywhere that is unsafe. He said that because he didn’t drive a new car and he was a local that he  could really go about anywhere…except…the scary place. This is where he stopped the car and showed us a narrow street and he said, “even the police don’t go in there.” I think this was the place Maria told us about! He told us to not even try to go to any of these places because we are obviously gringo and would stand out like a poster child for “please mug me!” I said to him, no problem there! We were only gone a couple of hours but we saw and learned many new things about this country and I took it all in. Guatemala truly is a study of stark contrasts in every way. 

We are heading to the coast (Pacific) this weekend to spend all day Saturday and Saturday night. I’m really looking forward to it. More beautiful photos are on the way!

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