Monday, January 20, 2014

A Familiar Face

Picking Julie up from the airport! This is the best day of our vacation... JULIE ARRIVED IN GUATEMALA! They won't let you inside, so we waited outside until we saw her. Great day!

This is us at the Relief Map in Downtown... We are up above looking down on it. It was built in the early 1900's by three engineers and it covers 1/2 an acre. It is a 3-D map and it shows all of Guatemala with it's neighboring countries.

Here is the Relief Map... Like a giant diorama. This picture doesn't do it justice to how big and detailed it really is! It shows cities, mountains, lakes, highways, etc. and it was all done by hand! You can walk around the outside of it or look from the platforms above. Look it up on the internet!

This is the view from a hill we hiked up in Antigua. Julie and I toured the ruins of two big earthquakes which destroyed the city and all the beautiful Spanish Cathedrals. This used to be the capital city until the earthquakes came. After that, everyone moved further into Guatemala City. Antigua is about an hour and a half from Guatemala City. It has since been built up again and is a charming little town with cobblestone streets.

This is one of the many little stores along Main Street selling handcrafted items.

This is us above Antigua with another volcano in the background and a religious statue. The Spanish influence is really apparent here. We saw a little puff on the volcano the day we were there.

Here we are taking a good look at the city and the volcano. There were bus loads of college students that day.

This is the other temple in Guatemala. It is in a city called Quetzaltenango. It is the second larges city in Guatemala. The temple in nicknamed the Xela (phonetic shay-la) in the local dialect and has been opened for two years. It is a lot bigger than our little temple, but it isn't very busy yet. It sits high on a hill above the city, which is very poor. Oddly enough, they have a Walmart there. We talked to some missionaries who serve there and they live on the temple compound in a two story housing. We did a session, stayed over night, and went back the next day for sealings. It took about five hours each way to drive there.

Here is the beautiful view from the temple at the top of the hill. Some of the streets are just barely wide enough for one vehicle to drive down.

Here we are in front of the temple before we left. No, I did not wear my flip flops inside, but I did wear them traveling in the van!

Here we are in the main square in Downtown Guatemala City. We were going to go to the government building, but there was a teacher strike, so the guards and police were all over and wouldn't let us in... So instead, we bought mandarin oranges from a street vendor. They were delicious. They Murri's are on the left.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Last of Tikal

This was a little hot spring along the way... I soaked my feet and it is the best they have felt in nine months. It smelled like hard boiled eggs, or something similar!

These were some precious little kids who paddled out in their canoes to meet the tourists in the boats. They had little homemade items in their boats to sell and the driver of our boat stopped so we could look. There were two little girls and a boy. They live in the little villages in the background and you can only access their homes by boat. Of course, I bought something! I am a sucker for cute kids and they are all cute here!

This is how coconuts grow here, and there are tons of the. Also, we saw a banana plantation on the way, too.

This is one of the homes along Lake Isabel. This little family put out everything they had to sell in their little "store."

This is where we had lunch when we reached Livingston, which is a peninsula. You can go out to the Caribbean Sea from here, but we didn't go that far. This is the Pitcher family and us. And yes, I found a Diet Coke! Yay!

This is called an Ant Highway, and yes, they do make giant trails as they march along carrying their food. It is hard to see, but they are there!

This is a giant fort which way built by the Spaniards to keep out the pirates. This was located in Rio Dulce right next to the water so they could shoot the pirate ships as they came in. The cannons were all the way around the perimeter. We stayed here for the nights for January 14th and 15th, but not in the fort itself!

This is a view of the fort from our boat as we pulled in. They took us on a tour and it was interesting and very well built... All by hand! There is a moat around the outside, too.

Here is the moat and they guy whose job it is to clean it! Yuck!

This is the prison in the basement and two people were kept here in this little space. Yes, this is where they ate, slept, and everything else. I guess I don't want to be a pirate anymore! Arghhhh!

This is the entrance to the Castillo de San Felipe dated 1651. It has a drawbridge that is cranked up by hand and has all kinds of living quarters.

This is what the inside of the castle/fort looks like.

Here is the map detailing our zip line adventure in Panajachel. As you can see there are eight platforms and yes, we hike to the top! We did see monkeys in the trees on the way up.

On January 16th and 17th, we traveled to Lake Atitlan by van. Many here believed that this is the waters of Amoron. This is a colorful street which we strolled down.

This is an Asian (yes, the waitress spoke Spanish) at Lake Atitlan. Pitchers and their family, Sister Viveros, our guide, the Murris, and the Roberts. Dad was beginning to feel sick here from either bad food or water, and eventually, everyone go sick on the way home!

This is us in our boat on Lake Atitlan, with the volcano in the distance. We are headed to our hotel, which you can only get to by water.

Hotel room at Lake Atitlan... This is where Dad spent most of his time... en el baño! It was primitive, but charming. The hotel was 45 years old!

Here is Herman Viveros and Elaine buying the typical fabric in Livingston. Notice all the typical blouses across the top and the little sales lady helping them!

This is our little friend who followed us all day. He was proud to speak a little English, Kechi, and Spanish. He showed us on the map where he went to school on Lake Atitlan and told us that his father can't work and he does this to help his mom. He was really smart and very cute!

This is another little entrepreneur who followed up around. She even tied a scarf around my head like hers when I was sitting on the curb waiting for the shoppers. She was hoping I would  buy one! I didn't get one, but we gave her some money for taking a picture with us.

This is Lake Atitlan and volcanoes in the background. Sister Viveros, Pitcher family, and me... Minus Dad. He was still in the hotel room sick. :(

This is an active volcano erupting at Lake Atitlan. Those little puffs look small, but they are pretty big and hot when you are closer!

Here is the beautiful Cathedral downtown that we toured when Julie was here. She has a picture of a beautiful rug inside that wasn't a rug at all. It was colorful sawdust put together in a patter to look like a rug!

*If you would like to see more pictures from this trip, go to this URL!

More From the Trip to Tikal

Okay, I am going to give a little description of our little trips during the break. Our temple was closed for three weeks in January... Normally it would be only two weeks, but a crew from the United States came to install fiber optic cable in the temple, so they closed an additional week. It is always a flurry of activity at the temple... They wash, clean, repair, scrub the outside and power wash the grounds, put in new carpet where needed, wash the slanted roof, etc.

January 13th: We flew to Tikal with The Pitchers and their 4 kids and a grandson who were visiting here for a week. Here we are boarding the plane for our 1-1/2 hour flight. What? I hate small planes! What the heck am I doing? But we made it okay!

Here is a great view of what we saw... Classic and Pre-Classic Period (600 years BC) if my memory serves me right. Yes, they are as huge as they look, and are so beautiful and majestic. Look up Tikal on the Internet for a more complete description.

They used to let people walk up this one, but they don't anymore! I am glad I don't have to climb the steps of that temple to go to work every day haha!

This is one that we were able to climb up and down. Dad stayed at the bottom the get good photos!

This is the spectacular view from up above the acres and acres of trees and ruins.

This is the view from our boat trip from Rio Dulce to Livingston on Lake Isabel. We were on the water for a couple of hours each way and saw so many species of birds along the way. These are some pelicans lounging around!

This is what it looked like all along the way... Beautiful rain forests. It poured on the way back and we were soaked clear through, but it was still fun. Oh, did I mention that one boat ride had no life jackets? What?! Good thing I can swim and save dad haha!

Here are some postcards of our airplane trip to Tikal... Yes, these ruins ARE that big! It was a very interesting park with so many unearthed ruins that is ongoing.

These Mayans really knew their stuff! This was amazing to see.

Here we are, all geared up for the ride of a lifetime, high above the rain forest. And yes, we did hike up there ourselves... Suspension bridges with little wooden slats and all! Jace (the Pitcher's grandson) photo bombed us royally. We didn't know until we looked at the picture haha!

Do you think it's loaded? 


This is not the hotel that we stayed at, but it was a nice one. We should have just stayed at the temple housing, it was much nicer than the hotel we were at!


Man of Steel and appeal with two old missionaries (that could have been me).