This is the place for photos and reflections of my visits to Latin America beginning in 2012. Previous blogs are linked on the main pages of my photo collections on flickr. HAPPY TRAILS!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

July 2018 visit to Guatemala

In July 2018 I traveled again to Guatemala, mostly based in San Pedro La Laguna on Lake Atitlán but with a quick stop in Antigua on the way in and a fun weekend adventure to Xela with a group of friends.

I usually fly into Guatemala City in the evening but this trip it was mid day - beautiful views!

I stayed in my favorite room in my favorite hotel, Casa Cristina, with this view.

I had time for a stroll around town including the parque central,

La Merced half a block from the hotel,

and La Recollección ruins.

After a good night's sleep I explored the market

and had a wonderful típico breakfast with a 4 seasons smoothie at Fernando's Kaffee, steps away from Casa Cristina.

I arrived in San Pedro at noon on Friday, July 13th just in time for a fabulous lunch with Mynor and Josefa.

I went shopping - next 3 photos are the market (I didn't take the first one - a photographer posted it on facebook and saved me from getting my camera out and yes, it really does look like that), 

an adorable peanut lady named Lola,

what I bought (includes a few grocery store purchases and bread and pizza from the Italian bakery),

and my first dinner.

The next 3 are before (last year) and after (Saturday) shots of the massive construction project in the municipal area and a view of the fountain in the park.

Mynor and Josefa have 2 boys; that's Antonio on the right with 2 cousins and a boy who is a homestay guest along with his sister and grandmother.

All of us went out to breakfast on Sunday to watch the World Cup finals.

The homestay kids, Mynor, and I climbed to the top of Volcán San Pedro - it took 6 hours up and back. Lake Atitlán is about 5000 feetabove sea level and the volcano is about 10,000 feet at the top. The first photo is the view of the volcano from our terrace at 5:45am as we were about to leave and the 2nd is us waiting for a tuktuk (golf cart taxi) to take us from town to the entrance to the park where the hike starts. We were in good company - dozens of men waiting for rides to take them to work in the corn and coffee fields above town.

Here are a few favorite photos from the hike:


Heading back down

That Monday I started classes at La Cooperativa Spanish School, 11 years after my first visit there. Gorgeous school thanks to the garden artist, Delfino.

Mynor is one of the best teachers I've ever had.

On Friday night they had a 'fogata' - a campfire with live music.

Visiting the families of the newest Beca Project students is always a highlight. Mynor leads me around (if it's a long way I ride on the back of Mynor's motorcycle) and I would - both literally and figuratively - be lost without him. There are not really street names and addresses here and most students don't live on a street anyway, but on a small alley or off a trail through coffee plants. Also, while the students speak Spanish, most of the parents didn't have the benefit of education so Mynor translates between their Tz'utujil - the local Maya language - and my Spanish. Here are a few favorites.

Rosalia is seeing pictures of her sponsors for the first time.

Sharing family and pet photos

Nearly every home has a shrine but this one was especially grand. The black and white photo above Mynor's head is a futbol (soccer) team picture from the 60s - the traditional clothing of the town as the uniform.

Another highlight is taking students and parents shopping when the sponsors have contributed money for that cause. It's chaotic and awesome. 

The store employee on the left is a Beca Project university student.

This hardworking dad was carrying massive loads around town - stacks of wood, bags of cement, goods from the dock to the market - over rocks and cobblestones wearing paper thin flip flops; he deserved sturdy boots.

I also enjoy running into current and graduated Beca Project students and their families on the street and in the market.

Sometimes they stop by my little home, Ti Wachooch, for a visit.

Over the weekend I joined Mynor and his family on a getaway to Xela, the 2nd largest city in Guatemala. Also in the group, the grandmother (and Beca Project sponsor) who, along with 11-year-old twin grandkids, is a Spanish School homestay guest of Mynor and his wife Josefa. 

Saturday we headed to Xocomil, a gigantic water park with dozens of slides and other features. 

This sequence shows Mynor and Josefa's younger son dunking his dad.

Another feature was a gigantic bucket that filled from a Maya god fountain on top of one of the constructions. When it was full enough it tipped and inundated the crowd below (this group is mostly my people).

I couldn't resist a shot of this grandma in slippers 'watching' the bags.

We stayed in Xela at Kasa Kiwi Hostel.

Just after dawn I walked around the central area of the city - note the watcher in the bell tower (detail below).

Sunday morning after breakfast we headed to the Fuentes Georginas hot springs near Zunil - beautiful scenery, lovely hot water, and great people watching.

Then we headed home, stopping occasionally to take photos and surviving the everlasting construction on the road down the steep hill from the Pan American Highway to San Pedro.

Here are a few more favorite photos from my time in San Pedro:

See the puppy? This house is in our neighborhood and has apparently lost a family member recently - the white bow signifies that.

The futbol (soccer) stadium in San Pedro

Sunset and sunrise from the terrace

What I'll miss most in San Pedro: shared time with Mynor, Manuel, Josefa, and Antonio. 

If you're interested in seeing the complete photo sets from this trip, click HERE. ¡Hasta luego!