Guatemala´s on my mind...

Rio Dulce Travel Blog

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With Carla and Juan in Iximche

... this country never lets me go! It is so densely packed with all kinds of things to do that I´m almost lost why at all I would go anywhere else! Having spent the last three weeks in the selva of Peten and Alta Verapraz, I hardly had a chance to update my friends on where I was and what was on my plate. And here´s a brief summary of my 'travel incidences'.

Meeting and befrending Guatemalans is good of a reason to visit the country. Juan Carlos (aka TravBuddy john 1112) and his beautiful friend Carla became my guarding angels introducing me to the hidden jewels like the very first Guatemalan capital Iximche and the most contemporary parts of Guatemala city.

Team El Mirador, left to right: Vonnick (France), Hans (Germany), Stine Mari (Norway), Dan (USA), Pavel (Russia), Nur (Turkey). On the top of El Tigre pyramid in Mirador we met two New Yorkers (on the right).

Juan and I trekked to the lava flows on Pacaya, the truly active volcano near Antigua. For the first time in my life I saw rivers of lava so close that my ears were turning into tortilla chips and my hiking shoes got melted.

Just yesterday we went to check out the ruins of Quirigua, the Mayan city that once defeated the mighty Copan, and spent the afternoon in the wonderfully restored Spanish fort El Castillo de San Felipe in the town of Rio Dulce. Recently I got so serious learning more and more about Mesoamerican history that the two Guatemalan hearts had to work hard to get me back into human sanity. Imagine three adults playing water guns among the largest known Mayan stele! I felt like I was six again. You know that inexplicable ''lightness of being'' when you are fully in the moment not caring about how much sense it makes or how adult it looks.

"Road" from Mirador to Nak Be
Anyway, Juan and Carla thank you for all your joy and your time you shared with me!

In between Pacaya and Rio Dulce I had a chance to play a real explorer and ventured into a 7-day / 6 nights selva trek visiting 4 different pre-Classic Mayan sight. September is the peak of rainy season in Northern Guatemala so that the 99 km loop in virtually virgin selva turns into a muddy swamp. Six bravehearts from 6 different nations (France, Germany, Norway, Russia, Turkey and United States) walked that distance in four and a half days in rubber boots ! Just imagining covering 60+ miles in rubber boots makes me sick, but once you are there you have no other choice but to fully enjoy the experience. Blisters and terribly fierce mosquitos (some as large as my thumbnail) could not spoil the beauty of the jungle-covered ruins, magic sunsets and sunrises, amazing fauna and a terrific company of fearless minds.

Spider Monkey

Stine Mari (aka TravBuddy zmagatha) from Norway is basically the Godmother of our El Mirador hike. She found most of us and made sure that the brilliant six get together as a team! One night we had a night of cursing and bitching in six different languages - that was quite a show! I have to admit that Norwegians do a better job than anybody else expressing themselves in stressful situations. Though, the manner of Turkish cursing is much sexier while French bitching sounds just beautiful.

Anyone who is curious about Mayan and other Mesoamerican cultures would have a blast doing this trek. El Mirador rivals the grandeur, the age, and the importance of Teotihuacan. Climbing El Mirador still selva covered pyramids gives one a feeling how immensely powerful and populous Mayan world was in the pre-Classic times.

Cave climbing in Semuc Champey
The major complex La Danta is a three-level 79m tall temple with the first level measuring 600m x 300m. Its man-made volume is 2.8 million cubic meters - just a little less than the 3 million cubic meters of Pyramida del Sol in Teotihuacan. They approximate that it took about 15 million labor days to build the temple. The 30-40m wide and 15-25km long sandstone ''highways'' connect El Mirador to the neighboring ruins. Nowadays the ''highways'' are virtually impassible because of thick vegetation but next year they start clearing parts of them so one day Guatemala will have ''Ruta Maya'' trips to pre-Classic ruins similar to what they do in Peru with Inca Trail.

After scorpions, snakes, palm-size spiders, crazy monkeys, and rainbow colored birds I wanted a little break from the jungle.

El Castillo de San Felipe
Having spent a day in Tikal and climbing all open temples and two closed pyramids I said good-by to Peten. Hans, my German buddy from El Mirador team, and I went to explore caves and underground rivers in Semuc Champey. That was an unforgettable experience. Another reason why I would like to come back to Guatemala. Swimming in the depth of a cave with a tiny candle in one arm, climbing literally inside the waterfall with breath held and eyes closed, playing a nature-made marimba of stalactites, squeezing into a water tube with the roaring river only hoping for the wide opening on the other end as was promised by the guide - all of that got me so excited that I didn't die from hyperthermia (though I was close to it)   ;)

And now I´m about to leave for Livingston, the heart of Guatemalan Garifuna culture, where people live on the Caribbean coast, speak a unique mix of English, Maya and Spanish (called Garifuna), have only boat connections to the ''mainland'' and dance to raggae rather than salsa and merengue.

adoubov says:
Pasha,

Update, please - it has been more than 3 weeks!!! Afftar, peshi escho!:)

Artem
Posted on: Oct 20, 2007
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With Carla and Juan in Iximche
With Carla and Juan in Iximche
Team El Mirador, left to right: Vo…
Team El Mirador, left to right: V…
Road from Mirador to Nak Be
"Road" from Mirador to Nak Be
Spider Monkey
Spider Monkey
Cave climbing in Semuc Champey
Cave climbing in Semuc Champey
El Castillo de San Felipe
El Castillo de San Felipe
Stina Mari, Hans and I inside Stru…
Stina Mari, Hans and I inside Str…
With Juan on Pacaya
With Juan on Pacaya
Tarantula
"Tarantula"
Rio Dulce
photo by: islander23