We crossed out of Belize and into Guatemala's northern Petén Department and met up with our new guide, Marlon Díaz. I had read very positive reviews of his work on the travel forums and every word was true.
You never know what you're going to find in the road in Guatemala.
We stopped at El Portal de Yaxhá for lunch, a restaurant near the Yaxhá turnoff that was built for the crew of Survivor when it was filmed in the area. We enjoyed a delicious, typical Guatemalan meal including my favorite, pepián.
Then we headed up another bumpy road to the beautiful Yaxhá Maya site, set between 2 lakes.
We headed back out to the main road and for the 2nd time in the day were stopped by an animal in the road.
Marlon dropped us in the town of El Remate at La Casa de Don David where we enjoyed a nice dinner and headed early to bed. The next morning we caught a ride to Tikal, half an hour away, for our 6:30-11:30am tour with naturalist/archaeologist Roxy Ortiz. I have toured with Roxy many times over the last 7 years and it's a stellar experience every time.
Big hug, strangler fig style
Susie, Roxy, and I at the top of Temple 4
We spent the afternoon back at La Casa de Don David in El Remate to enjoy the food, the internet, and the beautiful views of birds and of Lake Petén.
From there we headed to the airport in Santa Elena near Flores to connect with our (2 hour delayed) flight to Guatemala City. Our trusty driver, Alfredo Garcia, was there to greet us despite the late hour and we arrived at my favorite little hotel in Antigua, Casa Cristina, at about 1am: a loooong day. I was happy to wake up in my favorite room in Antigua the next morning.
We slept in longer than originally planned since workers were threatening a strike that would close the roads to Lake Atitlán; it was a win-win because we needed the extra sleep and the road closures didn't materialize. After a nice breakfast at Fernando's - crepes with strawberries, bananas, and house made chocolate and a 4 seasons smoothy for me...
...we walked by La Merced church to the iconic Santa Catarina Arch and did some shopping in the huge, museumesque Nim Pot store.
Alfredo and his wife Jane Hensworth de García (next in our string of excellent tour guides) met us back at Casa Cristina and provided a nice tour of a few of Antigua's highlights:
The parque central with it's mermaid fountain
The front façade of the cathedral and the earth quake tumbled interior
The bus yard behind the market to the west of town
The beautiful produce market
Then we were off to Panajachel on Lake Atitlán with a quick stop for tortillas with beans and cheese on the way. We crossed Lake Atitlán in a packed lancha and took tuktuks (golf cart taxis) to our lodgings.
For John, Cherie, and Susie, that was a 2 bedroom apartment at Hotel Sak'cari Almanecer that offered a full kitchen, a nice sitting area, and views of the lake that included this gorgeous sunrise.
Jennifer and I settled into my beloved Ti Wachooch.
Over the next 3 days we took a cooking class, attended a graduation, watched a back strap loom weaving demonstration and tried it ourselves, visited a Beca Project family and 3 Kamoon Project homes, took a boat across to Santiago Atitlán, and had a nice dinner on the terrace. Next post!
You can find the complete photo collections for this trip HERE.