Monday, June 29, 2009

Great to be home

Alex and I arrived home last night around 9pm, safe and sound. We had some serious airport drama in Houston that required us to literally run around from terminal to terminal to terminal. I won't go into the details but we just barely made our connection flight.

Our house was great to come home to but I always feel a little bit guilty whenever I come home from an extended period of time in central America. Our country is so rich and so blessed with so much and so many of use take it all for granted. My other observation is that our country is really uptight. This was incredibly obvious in Houston and I really just wanted to tell everyone to slow down and just relax. We could all learn a lot from spending some time in a profoundly poor country.

We picked up Gardner today and it is so great to have him back around! We sure are going to miss him when he goes to California for training next week!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

headed home

Alex and I made our way from Coban Ruinas in Honduras yesterday all the way to Antigua. We don't like staying in Guate so it is easier to stay in Antigua and take a cab to the Airport. We are currently sitting in the nicest central American airport I have ever seen! It has air conditioning and get this.... free WiFi. I am looking forward to heading home but will miss it here too!

It was a good thing we got out of Honduras yesterday because they arrested the President of Honduras today and there was a military coup. It started while we were there and got worse overnight. In the city we were in, they weren't letting any tourist travel east of where we were for safety reasons.

We splurged and took a direct gringo shuttle to Antigua and there were 8 people on the bus. The Guatemalans can usually cram 20 or so people in to these tiny vans but several of the Americans in our van were so "fluffy" that they took up enough room for 2 or 3 people. Alex and I were the last ones on and so their was no room for our skinny butts on the seats. Alex finally gave up after falling off the bench and just sat in the door well for SIX + hours. Doesn't he look happy!


There was an accident so we waited in the fumes of trucks for about two hours. Oh the joys of travel!

In Guatemala there is a saint named Moximo. He is always seen smoking a cigar and drinking rum. Gotta love the catholics!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Video from Tikal

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View of the Grand Plaza at Tikal.


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On top of Templo II.


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Temple V


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Last view of the Grand Plaza

Coban

Today we got up and after a yummy breakfast walked the mile to the ruins of Coban. These ruins are from the Mayans just like those at Tikal and are over 2,000 years old as well. However this civilization was different in that they put hieroglyphics on everything and covered all of their structures with stucco and paint. At its peak, this town must have been spectacular as everything was red, blue and green colored.

The people of Coban build one temple on top of another as one king died and a new one reigned. So archaeologists are able to tunnel through the top temples to discover the older temples underneath. This is how they know things were covered in stucco and paint. the tunnels were really cool but did not lend to pictures. Again I only posted a few pictures and you can see the rest on flickr if you want.

That is actually a sculpture of a Macaw.

ruins of one of the temples on the main plaza.

This is their "rain god".

The heat was getting to Alex and I again so we started getting pretty silly. I thought I would give this guy a good nose picking. He He. It is really an altar where they did sacrifices.

Alex tries hard to "push" over one of the big Steala. Again, I think the heat was getting to us.

This was my favorite thing at the whole site!! It is a jaguar and it use to have huge black onix in it for its spots but I think it looks like a cartoon version of a jaguar. Most of the sculptures here are so serious but this one seems so out of place being so playful!

There were wild Macaws in the grounds. They can really make a raucous but boy are they beautiful when they fly. We saw about 6-8 of them all take off at one time. It was amazing!

This was in the museum and is the a sign of the entrance to the underworld. It is a bat with a jade necklace that represents death.

This was the coolest and most elaborate carving that we saw. Really cool.

Alex is looking around the structures that have been moved to the museum and trying to pretend he is not dying of heat exhaustion.
We are making our way back towards the airport tomorrow and then head home on Sunday. It has been a great trip. We are both sad to leave but at the same time looking forward to long warm showers and seeing our guide dog puppies again!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

past 5 days.

Hello all. Alex and I have been in some remote areas for the past few days so posting was difficult. I have posted about 5 or so news posts so keep scrolling to see what we have been up to for the past 5 days or so.

To Honduras we go.

Alex and I headed out of El Remate on Wednesday so that we could break up the trip to the ruins in Honduras that we wanted to see. It was a five our ride down to our first stopping point called Rio Dulce. The town was really cute and was on a big lake/inlet off the ocean. Lots of yachts ride out the hurricane season there.

The only problem was that it was just so $#^%&;% hot again! If you know Alex, you know he doesn't always tolerate the heat well. Our bus was suppose to leave at 2pm and at 2:30 we were still sitting in the bus waiting to leave. Oh did I mention that there is no air condition in vehicles here. I was really beginning to get worried about Alex and then we finally started to go and the breeze helped cool us down a bit.

Alex ridiculously hot and close to heat stroke and hoping the bus leaves soon.

View from a restaurant in Rio Dulce.

In Rio Dulce we had our first bad experience in a hotel. We were both exhausted and starving and so we just took a room at the first hotel we saw. Alex paid and extra $5 for AC but once in the room the AC unit didn't work. He went and asked what was up and a young boy came and climbed the wall outside our room and flipped a switch. Well now at least the unit made noise, but no cold air ever came out of it. Then we tried to take a shower and guess what...no water. Alex went back down and they said..."oh you want water too...that will cost another 10 bucks." Alex was getting pretty mad by this point but he paid anyways. We had our showers, ate a delicious pizza at a river side restaurant, and went to sleep. When we got up in the morning at the exact moment we got out of bed, the power went off and the there was no longer any more water and the front office was closed. Oh well, what can you expect for $20 a night.....usually in central America $20 will get you a decent room with hot water. Alas.

After breakfast we got lucky and found a bus that was headed to the boarder with Honduras. They promised it would only take 6 hours. So off we went to spend another hot day in another bus. Now on these long trips we pay a few dollars more and take a version of a coach. (except without AC and most are 20 yrs old). Usually there are no animal on these types of buses but our was filled with chicks today. And they were not happy about the heat either, or maybe they were not happy about being stuffed under seats and in the luggage bins, who knows, but man can they make some noise and some stinky poo poos!

About three hours into our trip our bus abruptly stopped its wild and crazy 40 mph and sat for what seemed like forever. As it turns out, an oil tanker had crashed into a car and rolled several times. This made quite a mess and they shut down the road. So....again we sit in a really hot bus in the sun, thinking.... these had better be some great ruins in Honduras for all the effort we are going though. Here's hoping! Thank goodness we both had books on our iPods to listen to!

View from the bus on the way to Coban Ruinas.

View closer to Honduras.

Crossing the Guatemalan/Honduras border was a trip. Our buss stopped at a giant road block and said this is it everybody out. We grabbed our bags and walked across the blockade to a row of windows where we "left Guatemala and entered Honduras" Then we grabbed our packs and walked a bit up the road and got in a Microbus and headed into Honduras. Oh did I mention we had to pay them to let us in? Oh and because our driver had to keep stopping to pee (seriously, someone needs to check that man's prostrate!) we made it to Honduras in just over 7 hours.

I do have to say though, this is the first time in almost a week where we have been in a town with Internet and it is blazing fast. Go Honduras! Check back tomorrow for pictures from the Ruins of Coban.

Animals

In the past few days we have seen a lot of wild animals. I thought I would group them all together and share just a few of them with y'all.

Toucan at one of the restaurants in Copan Ruinas, Honduras. He loves french fries.

These are actually wild pigs! The town of El Remate was filled with them.

I can't remember the name of this guy but we saw it at Tikal - it is like a cross between a turkey and a peacock.

Howler monkeys (with babies). We also saw spider monkeys but I couldn't get any good pics.

This guy was super creepy!! He was bigger than my hand. UGH!!

Hola Paco!

Alex and I made one friend on our trip to Tikal that we will not soon forget. Paco the parrot! He ate every meal with us and Alex really took a liking to him. I think Paco liked us because he could see we were suckers and that we would share our fried plantains and bread with him.

Paco on our first night in El Remate.

Alex and Paco.

Alex just couldn't stop giving Paco "fuzzies" every day while we waited for our food.

Ok, so that is my hand in the picture too, I too really enjoyed playing with Paco.

Paco is really a pig, it is amazing how much this little bird could eat. Here Alex is feeding him a bite of his plantains.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

TIKAL!!!!!!

Tikal was absolutely AMAZING!!! The area is huge and we walked for over 6 hours to see all of it. I tried not to go crazy and post tons of pictures. If you want to see more I will post them on flickr soon and you can access them through our website. (I will get them posted as soon as I can).

The only problem with this area is that it is UNBELIEVABLY hot!! It was well over 100 degrees the day we went and this is in the shade with over 98% humidity. By early afternoon, Alex and I were seriously afraid we might pass out from heat stroke. I don't think I have ever been that hot in my entire life! We had a great time though and saw a ton of wild life. The ruins were worth every bit of effort it took to get up to see them! I can't wait to come back in 20 years and see all of the other temples that they are currently working on unearthing.


The Back of Temple I

A giant tree at the entrance to the park.

I love remote trimmers on cameras! Alex and I on top of Temple II.

The Amazing Temple I as seen from the top of Temple II. You can no longer climb Temple I, two tourist fell a few years ago while climbing it and died. Now many of the bigger temples have wooden staircases built for people to climb instead of using the main temple stairs.

Me in front of a giant Mayan wheel with lots of cool hieroglyphs on it.

Now I know it was unbelievably hot but seriously..... This "gentleman" from some eastern European country (as best we could tell from the strange language he was speaking) decided it was so hot that he would just wander the park in his underwear. We kept running into him. It was really gross!!! So I decided to post this nice shot of his butt crack on the web. He he.

A sample of the paths from one site/temple to another.

When we got up to the top of one of the temples, a swarm of bats came flying out at us, of course I screamed and Alex laughed. In this shot, I am checking to see if there are any left in there before I go any further. There were many still sleeping in the rafters.

Templo de las Calavers.

I can't remember which one this is....sorry...they all started to blur together after awhile.

This was in the acropolis off of the grand plaza and is about the size of two suburbans parked side by side ... i.e. HUGE! I think it looks like he is smiling.

Alex rested in the shade while I climbed to the top of Complejo Q. I am the pick blob about half way up.

This is called just "Pyramid" and is probably the only one I didn't climb to the top of.

Temple IV - The tallest temple in all of Tikal.

The twin Temple to Complejo P.

Alex and I sitting on Complejo P.

View from the top of temple IV.

El Remate

Our Monday consisted of the following: 1) 5 hour hot bus ride through very steep mountains from Panajachel to Guate's Airport 2) 1 hour flight up to Flores 3) 1 hour cab ride to El Remate. After all of that we were beat and wanted a nice hotel and experience at Tikal. So we decided not to stay in Flores and instead to stay in the one street town of El Remate at a adorable little resort on the big lake up here. It was a great decision!!!!

El Remate may not be much of a town but I think the hotel we stayed at has to be one of my all time favorite places I have ever stayed at! I didn't want to leave! Below are pictures I took over the three days we were here.

Align CenterOur Hotel in El Remate.

One of the hotels two dogs, a really fat bulldog was just way too friendly. Their other dog was a pug who wouldn't stay still long enough for a picture.

The "lobby" area.

Some of the grounds at our hotel.

The path to our room.

The sitting room in our hotel room...yes, that is a swing on the left! How cool!

Our hotel room after a fantastic night sleep in .... Air Conditioning!!!!

View from our room.

Our little cabin, we were on the top floor.

Pool at our hotel.

Fun restaurant/hostel on the main street of El Remate.

Alex relaxes at the restaurant across the street from our hotel.

Standing out on the dock and looking back at the restaurant, you can see our hotel up on the hillside. Our room was the one that almost lines up with the dock.

After our last breakfast in El Remate, Alex went and jumped off the peer and went for a quick swim in the beautiful clear and cool lake.

Sunset on the lake.