Monday, April 16, 2018

Iximche


Iximche - or Maize Tree

Iximche is an archaeological site dating from 1470 -1524 in the highlands of Guatemala. (you'll have it all to yourself) I was surprised to learn that the site is located at an elevation of almost 7,500 feet. I knew that we had weaved, swerved and climbed, but I would have guessed 5,000 tops. The plaza was built on a ridge, for protection from invaders, and is surrounded by deep ravines. 






The site hasn't been reconstructed as much as other sites, so it is not as visually impressive. However, these temples never did have the height and drama of the lowland temples. At one time, they had platforms and thatched roofs. 













The skeletal remains of over 100 people were discovered here - many the victims of human sacrifice. In fact, this hole in the ground was a receptacle for blood

However, not all of the old bones were victims of decapitation! The noble tombs revealed squatting skeletons with various precious objects: jade, obsidian, turquoise, gold, copper and even some carved human bone jewelry.








I (think) this is a pictorial of  ceremonial offerings.



Now days, Iximche is extremely popular with locals for ceremonial purposes. I asked our guide if it was O.K. to take a photo of this ceremony. He said yes, but even so, I just zoomed in and snapped one photo.

P.S. I have a new post over at The Chorus of the Crows!  It's about three bold and scrappy book thieves...

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Ixpanpajul

It looks like infinity, doesn't it?

I finally dove into my 800 plus collection of Guatemala photos and surfaced with Ixpanpajul. I didn't know what to expect during the adventure, since my husband researches all of our activities. I'm glad I didn't know a darn thing. Because of all the steps it took to reach the infinite hanging bridges! They were more fun than a zip line, I figured. (although Ixpanpajul has them too) That's because we were able to spend more pulse racing time, hovering high above the jungle. It wasn't over in an instant.


Me!


We looked down on howler monkeys.





The world below our feet. 

It was so scary!





After the 4th bridge - and a relaxing swing in a hammock at the tipity top - we started our descent down the mountain. 

This photo was taken from the towering heights of our last bridge crossing. The 5th bridge.

















The horses and animals really made this day a bucolic affair. One of my best memories of Guatemala.


P.S. I have a new post over at The Chorus of the Crows!  It's about three bold and scrappy book thieves...

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Animal Kingdom


We were standing in line well before the opening bell at Disney's Animal Kingdom last month. My husband researches everything - he picked the day with the least crowds and an early opening - so we could ride the new Pandora - The World of Avatar before the majority of tourists showed up. It worked to perfection.

Still, we were herded together like cows to slaughter at the gate and forced to creep, nether region to nether region, in a sort of slow moving swarm to the new themed ride. Once there, the onslaught of early risers broke up, and after a few minutes, we were ready for a journey through the floating mountains of Pandora. You ride there on the back of a metal and plastic chair - I mean Banshee. But really, you're just sitting there watching a 3-D movie.

I heard that the Avatar ride - the newest attraction at Animal Kingdom - was the best ride ever created. Well, that might be true at Disney - maybe. But if you've ever been to Universal Studios, you'll be disappointed. I was. Almost every thrilling, 4 -D themed ride at Universal is better - way better. But some people will always have a love affair with all things Disney.





It really was a sight to see when all of these Macaws flew off in unison. I hope they flew back to Central America. But, I'm sure they have a good life here. 









A little hanky-panky.



The birds and animals are the best part of Animal Kingdom.












The new Pandora area really took pressure off the other sights in the park. I enjoyed the safari ride much better this time. I think it moved a little slower, allowing us more time to watch the exotic animals. They don't disappoint. The Lion King song and dance number, was top notch. And we even had a great meal, overlooking Everest, at Flame Tree Barbecue. However, my favorite thing, the trained dog and cat show (with a few exotic friends) was gone. 

Hey, Walt...bring back the cats! Please.

P.S. I have a new post over at The Chorus of the Crows!  It's about three bold and scrappy book thieves...

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Monday, March 26, 2018

The Drive...


"Late in the afternoon we came to the market-town where we were to alight from the coach - a dull little town, with a church-spire, and a market-place, and a market-cross, and one intensely sunny street, and a pond with an old horse cooling his legs in it, and a very few men sleepily lying and standing about in narrow little bits of shade." 
from Bleak House by Charles Dickens

I read this excerpt from Bleak House on the same day I uploaded these photos to my blog. I felt compelled to include it. It was so fortuitous! This post doesn't have the razzle dazzle of beautiful photos, it's all about the journey. Guatemala marked our 11th trip to Central America and we've always driven our own vehicle. It's been an adventure since the very beginning - driving. But I've never taken photos out the window before. Well, I didn't always have an i-phone handy. 

When we left beautiful Lake Atitlan, and began our mountain adventure, it was a Sunday. Market day! So, every time we hit a town, it was clogged with locals. I loved it! But my husband - who was driving- didn't. It was stressful driving through a mob of people, fruit and vegetables, dogs and livestock and other vehicles. At times, I could have reached out the window and grabbed a tomato. And boy, the tomatoes I ate in Guatemala were delicious. 




Do you see the guy hanging on the back of the bus? He climbed all the way from the front door, over the top and down the back. At highway speeds. 








I don't think I captured the complete chaos of market day. But look at how narrow the space is for our car. 


Yes, this is a road. 



Obviously, I got out of the car for this one. This is coffee country. But later, we drove through a landscape that reminded me of the floating mountains in the movie Avatar. And of course, I didn't take any photos out the window. Dumb.

Here, we're waiting in line for a ferry to cart us across the river. 


Now, we're behind a truck full of cows. 


Look at us! It took us two days of mountain driving to get to our goal - the lowlands of the Peten region. (We stayed in Coban overnight, at a cute, but cold little place run by the nicest local family. They hugged us when we left) The Peten region is where the glorious Tikal and Yaxha ruins are found. Plus, a beautiful lake that stretches for around 30 miles. We stayed there for 9 days. Then, we took to the skies. We flew back to Guatemala City and took a van to Antigua for our last 3 days. 

On the return trip from Peten, after we dropped our car off in Santa Elena and arrived at the airport, we found it closed. Can you imagine?  But, in a matter of minutes, the airport was buzzing with activity. 

The reason we drove to Peten and our hotel in El Remate, was to keep our vehicle. We wanted to have a car to drive to Mayan ruins, the island of Flores and well, where ever else we wanted to go. Plus, sometimes, it's all about the journey.



Guatemala City and a few Volcanoes. (Guatemala has 37!)


In Antigua, we walked. But, there were a few tired and lazy times when we took these little open cabs. Did I mention that Antigua has cobble stone streets? It was bumpy. 

Driving and touring the little towns of Guatemala was quite the experience. I can't wait to break into my file of over 800 photos and finally start sharing our trip. (other than the photos I just happened to have on my phone!) 

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