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!

Saturday, March 23, 2019


It was 9 degrees when we left The Dalles on March 5th to fly to Guatemala, 'The Land of Eternal Spring'. We flew from PDX 

through DFW to Guatemala City, then headed to Antigua for the night. In the morning we had breakfast at our favorite spot Fernando's Kaffee, steps away from our favorite hotel, Casa Cristina, had time for a quick walk around town, and headed to San Pedro La Laguna.

One of the angels in our room


Dark chocolate/mango ice cream sandwich - breakfast dessert, it's a thing :-)

Misha the restaurant cat is 14 years old, same as our Seven

Cobble repair

The parque central and cathedral repairs

Santa Catalina Arch

Shopping for folk art at Nim Pot - this one is definitely not my cup of tea :-/

La Merced

2 scenes from the hotel roof

The new road cuts out some of the worst traffic...

...but not all of it

Truck takes out house accident :-(

Mike and our driver, Mario

On the boat crossing the lake

On Friday, March 8th we left on an adventure with our friends Mynor and Josefa and their 8-year-old son Antonio. We hired a private driver for efficiency and so we could pick the schedule and take photo, bathroom, food, and leg stretching breaks as needed.

The first day we left at 6am and arrived at our destination around 3pm. Here's a view of the lake from a viewpoint half an hour from San Pedro, the town on the lake peeking out from the trees on the right.

Our hotel for the night: Ranchitos del Quetzal

This private reserve offers one of the best chances to see resplendent quetzals in the wild; we had 3 wonderful hikes in the cloud forest, saw lots of birds and orchids, and enjoyed this wonderful naturalist, Bardo, but weren't treated to quetzals. Some day!

Bardo showing Mike how soft a male quetzal tail feather is.


Micro orchid

The next day we headed to Lanquín - 3 hours away on mostly gravel roads with a stop in Carchá, a city of ~250,000 where we wandered around for an hour and never saw another caucasian.

We stayed 2 nights at El Retiro which offered a beautiful garden setting on a river, good food, and onward transport we needed for the next step of our adventure. 

On Sunday we headed to Semuc Champey in the back of a pickup, a rough 35 minutes from the lodge.

First event was a challenging climb to the mirador - view point - above the river.


We headed back down to the pools and spent most of the rest of the day exploring and playing in the water.

The river goes underground for hundreds of meters before popping up again.

Chocolate sellers

Rock rainbow :-)

Monday we spent 12.5 hours in transit, a looooong day with a variety of rough roads, construction delays, and heavy city traffic but also good company, stellar views, and good food.

We had a great time but were happy to arrive back in San Pedro. 

Beca Project family visits are always a highlight of our time in San Pedro. We have 7 new students this year and visited each home, then a few returned the favor. It's incredibly powerful and emotionally draining to hear their stories of struggle and survival and to learn about favorite subjects in school and dreams for the future.

I count on Mynor to lead me everywhere - I'd be lost without him. Here are a few of the places we visited to invite families to shop with donated money.

Here are a few photos from the grocery store, Super Mercado Andy. Such joy!

And here are a few from clothes shopping.

Shopping completed, we send those who live outside of town home in tuktuks.

We had a fun last week - a nice balance between being active/exploring, and relaxing. Here are a few (fairly random) highlights.

School kids running up our street (you can see a bit of our turquoise home away from home at top center)

A Cuaresma (Lent) procession, feet away from where the 1st photo was taken

Always a highlight - running into current and former Beca Project students in the street and working in local stores

We toured the local coffee cooperative, FEDEPMA, and learned about the process right down to composting the pulp waste

A few interesting things from our walks: a locked gate with no accompanying fences

A bull just chillin'

Neighborhood cats

Rock math

Mike's favorite coffee shop, Cristalinas

A couple of Sunday market scenes

Cute girls in the park

Women's basketball in the municipal area

A local soccer game - home team won 3-0

The neighborhood mill grinding chocolate instead of corn - I can almost smell it from here.

Tourists asking a cute old local guy for a photo.

An obviously super gas station

I see something new in this photo every time I look at it

Kayaking (we walk up and rent by the Santiago dock)

Hiking on the volcano, around town, and out the Finca Road to Mynor and Josefa's construction project by the lake.

The fruit! Wonderful mangos are about a quarter each - we're going to miss that.

A few keepsakes

Saying goodbye to our Ti Wachooch ('little home' in the local Maya language, Tz'utujil).

Crossing the lake

Heading to Guatemala City

The view from our room at Villa Toscana near the airport in Guatemala City

This trip flew by but was 100% time well spent: adventure, new places and faces, beloved friends, great food, and time to relax and reflect. 

Icing on the cake! First time ever I remembered to look up in time to get a decent Global Entry photo. :-)

For a collection that includes 6 sets of photos from this trip, click HEREHAPPY TRAILS!