Friday, July 2, 2010

Semuc Champey-Paradise

The Friday, that was the last day of school we had a lunch with our teachers and then Danny and I left early at 2PM because a shuttle was going to come pick us up, for a 7 hour bus ride into Lanquin, where we would then take a trip to Semuc Champey the next day. So at 2:15PM we were on the shuttle and read to go, it was an intense ride and we hit some traffic after a while. The only stop we made for food was at this gasoline station where I managed to convince the lady that she should cook my Cup of Noodles in the microwave, which she did and thank goodness or I feel like I would have starved. Once we were all ready to go we got back on the road and about 4 hours later at 9PM we stopped in a hostel in Coban. So ever since seeing the movie hostel I have been afraid of hostels and I have never stayed in one nor wanted to stay in one so for me it was a big thing to even set foot in it but I did. I layed in a hammock there and it was a really nice hostel, so I was excited to see the place where we would be staying. Once we were back on the car we noticed that we were switching drivers and we had about 2 more hours to go according to the new driver. During the whole trip I felt like I was drugged or something because I was so exhausted and all I could do was just sleep. I kinda feel sorry for Danny because during the whole time I pretty much laid on him and drooled all over him.

After about an hour we got on this very steep rocky road and there was a lot of turns and what not so I felt like we were going to fall of the little hill or something, we stayed on this road all the way until we reached our destination, El Retiro Lodge. We arived at 11ish at night and walked carefully to check in, I thought Danny, Christina and I would be staying in one of the cutest little wooden/bamboo huts, boy was I wrong. So Christina and he friend got to stay in a hut and Danny and I had this horrible room with rock on it and a huge bug by one of the beds, Danny's bed actually and so I had to share my bed with him. I was not a happy camper, I did not like our room and it was soooo hot and humid humid hot not dry hot. I think because we were so exhausted we were able to just fall sleep easily.

The next morning Danny and I finally were able to switch into a different room that was held up by corn husks and bamboo and on the top there was mosquito netting hung to keep the bugs out, I was skeptical about it but this was better than the last room. We went to check on Christina and we hug out for a bit outside her room, I layed on her hammock and was having a blast. The bathrooms I noticed were very clean and I was very happy about this, we had breakfast and prepared for our day.

The new room!!! The Hut and Hammock!!! Yay!!

The View from the hammock!!

We payed for our tour and the bus and finally got on this big bus that took us to Semuc Champey which was almost like the jungle but in comparison to Tikal it was not that bad, actually Tikal wasn't bad at all. We started the tour by stripping down to our bathing suits and handing our bags to a man behind a desk in a little hut which was supposed to be the office or something. I was wearing flip flop and so were Danny and Christina but Thankfully our tour guide tied some little strings to it and turned them into sandals it was very creative. I wish I had taken a picture.

The first adventure was a rope swing, in which you swung out into the river and jumped, just like that you just jump. I did not dare to do this but Danny did, what freaked me out was that the current was super strong so no way was I going to try it. I wanted to live to go home next weekend and drowning was just not in my itinerary.

The second adventure was tubing!!!! It was soo much fun and my favorite part of the whole thing I actually wish we could have done it longer or for a second time. But I got on my little black tube and practically flew down the river, the current was super strong. I struggled a lot at first to manuver myself around the rocks and stuff but I was such a pro, it was a little hard to stop at the place in which we were supposed to stop but the tour guide helped me out a lot. Once I was out I climbed on top of the rocks and tried to walk and boom I just slid down again into the water. It was a little scary but I just laughed at the whole thing, because I would fall back in.

The third adventure involved candles and caves. I still can't believe I went caving and I swan in there sure I have some serious bruises and a scar or two but I had an amazing time!!!!! At the entrance of the caves we were given candles and lit them and them we jumped in. We were able to walk and swim through the caves, it was very hard swimming with one arm and then flip flops on as well. We also had to climb up some ladders, jump off rocks into an abyss of nothingness but water, slide natural waterslides and even had the opportunity to climb up a small waterfall. Keep in mind that hile doing all this you held on to your candle, and so it sucked that we could not see the water or what was underneath and so I crashed into many rocks and got some bruises and what not. The cave tour was probably two hours and then we exited back to sunshine.

After the caves!

I was starving at this point and was happy when we finally got some lunch, from one of the local ladies there. After lunch we began to hike, and I mean hike, this was the most intensive hike I have ever don it put the hikes in Tikal to shame. We went straight up the mountain which was about 7,000 feet in altitude Danny and I were the first to be climbing up for a while but I was so tired and the altitude was messing with me. I was thankful and angry at the same time that it was raining. Thankful because it helped with the heat and angry because it made the ground very very slippery. Everyone I think slipped and almost fell at one point, but once we made it to the top, which is called El Mirador we had an amazing view of the natural pools that once we hiked down the mountain we would be able to swim in. Going down I almost twisted my ankle and it hurt pretty badly but I really wanted to go swimming and Danny was really supportive so I sucked it up and just went down. It was so beautiful down there that pictures definitely don't do it justice. The water was clear you could see everything I had some fun trying to catch the little fishies but they weren't having it. After about an hour an hour and a half we headed back to bus that took us back to the lodge, I was looking forward to sleeping in this new room, but I was so exhausted.

The Natural Pools

The View From El Mirador!!

Danny & Me, After the long hike up the mountain!!

Swimming in the natural pools!!


We had some dinner, I tried having steak which doesn't really work when you havent had meat in years and so I entertained my self by feeding it to this cute little dog near our table. Our dinner was lit by candles and it was so cute and AMAZING!!!! The hostel employees announced a bonfire & music down by the river after supper, it started raining and so they moved the party closer to the entry lodge, but we were all so exhausted that we all went to our rooms. Danny and I laid in hammocks for a while but soon after headed to bed. I was a bit annoyed after a while of music because I wanted the noise to stop so I could sleep, eventually I dozed off, but I did cover our room in Deet so that just in case bugs crawled in or something.

On Sunday we woke up at about 7AM and then proceded to geting ready for our 7-9hour rde back to Antigua. We stopped at a gasoline station again and so we stuffed our bags with chips and junk food and also got again a cup of noodles. After a while we made another stop at a place where it was like a restaurant and there was ice cream!!! I was stoked for ice cream because it was so hot. After that we got back on the bus and again I slept on Danny's Shoulder less drooling this time I think.

We were finally back in Antigua at like around 4PM and so Danny and I took a tuk tuk home and showered and rested for a bit. Because it was Sunday we had to provide our own food and so we headed down to the Market. In the market we bought my Guatemalan obsession (corn with lemon) and then headed towards the ferris wheel. I love the ferris wheel but little did I know this was like no ferris wheel I had ever gone on before. There was nobody on the ferris wheel so I convinced Danny to come on it with me. It was sooo scary!!!!!! It went forward and backwards and it was just a bunch of benches put together and manual. The guy at the bottom would press on the gas to make it go fast or slow. Because we were th first ones on Danny and I were on that thing for half an hour!!!!! they waited until the whole thing filled up and it was just too intense but soo much fun!!! I don't think Danny liked it as much as I did but I loved it!!!! Even though it was terrifying!!

After the ferris wheel incident we grabbed some dinner and headed home.

Finally we were able to sleep and we would be able to sleep in because volunteering wasn't until 1PM the next day!!

PS I need to get a water resistant digital camera, hint hint!!!

The Last Week of School

This last week of school was a very intense week. My teacher and I were stressing out a little because I was upset they changed my classroom and I had to study outside instead of in a small classroom, the one which I had been in since I started school, and my new class was by the bathroom. However, I dealt with that and it was over and so I had two essays to prepare and a presentation. The presentation was not that bad because it was based on my final paper so I was not that worried and I just took Public Speaking so I am pretty much a pro...sort of.

Anyway my last essay was on Camp Okizu and why people should volunteer with them, and my final paper was on Francisco Marroquin, a very important man in Guatemala. He is almost like the founding father of Guatemala, and is honored by having his face printed on the highest amount of money which is the 100 Quetzal bill.

One of the greatest things about doing my presentation on this is that near Antigua is San Juan del Obispo which is a place that contains a museum which once used to be Marroquin's house!! In order to learn more about him my teacher and I traveled to San Juan del Obispo by Tuk Tuk and took a tour of the place. What I liked about the museum was that it was free and they only asked for you to leave a donation at the end and it did not matter how much you left. Currently the place is being used as a convent for nuns, which there are not many of them living there but they make delicious cookies. During the time we arrived we found out that the nuns were busy and so the gardener/maintenance guy said we were welcome to walk around and he could show us the different places. It turned out that this worked well to my advantage because I got to take pictures, sit on the couch and bed and do many things that you are not really allowed to do when the nuns are there.

Inside the tuk tuk!

Arrived at the Museum

My teacher outside the museum

One of the boards with information, all of the boards told a story as you walked around

The dining room table

Close up of the portrait in the back

The living room

Some of his belongings

Francisco Marroquin's Bed!!

The fountain outside!

My presentation went well, I got a very good score, a perfect score actually. My essay also received a perfect score and it was a few pages long. I could not tell his whole story or all of what I had learned in just 700 words. While the week was stressful it was also bittersweet. I was done with school and could have a little more fun and volunteer now but also I would not be seeing my teacher or anyone else. My overall grade in the class was an A and I just want to thank everyone at my school, PLFM who helped me with my final paper and presentation & my teacher as well. I had an amazing experience and look forward to one day returning to take more classes so that I can perfect my Spanish even more.

The Last Day & Our Last Picture

Macadamia Nut Farm!

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Fridays are great, they are actually my favorite day. I LOVE Fridays!!!!!

I get to watch presentations with my teacher and we talk and then at the end of that day we have a fieldtrip somewhere, so it is half a day of education in the classroom and the other half outside, not that class is ever dreadful.

I really enjoy the presentations because they are fun and I get to learn more about people and all the different topics they present. Today Danny made ponche, which is fruit-punch and he passed a sample out. My stomach hurt and I did not want to try it but boy am I glad I did it was delicioso!!! People were asking for seconds and I totally missed out on them.

Today we ended up visiting the macadamia nut farm which is an all organic farm with no electricity. Before we left however, some of the people in the group and I headed to a travel agency because we wanted to climb the Agua Volcano. I was not sure at first but Danny and everyone else convinced me and I joined the bandwagon.

Welcome to the Macadamia Nut Farm, Where everyday is Earth Day!!

Follow the beish, wood scrapped road to get to your tour guide!

Meet your tour guide!! He is friendly & loves to talk about the farm!

Our tour guide was the sweetest and most adorable man ever. haha. He was very nice and started the tour by telling us about the owner, who cam to Guatemala sometime in the 70's and then never went back to the United States. He talked about how great and beautiful Guatemala is and how we all needed to be careful so we didn't fall in love with it either. I think I am already in too deep with Guatemala, I love it so much already.

Anyway back to the tour, I learned that the macadamia nut farm is all organic and they actually have no electricity. So the people work when the sun comes out and then until sunset because of the lack of electricity. I was really impressed that the managed to make such a big farm running smoothly without any electricity. It feels like everything runs on electricity now a days but to see things like this it is just even more AMAZING!

First Stage: The Macadamia Nuts when they have been picked up and not filtered through yet!

Second Stage: Macadamia nuts are placed at the top and depending on their size they fall in the appropriate bag

Stage Three: This machine here, which I think cracks the macadamia nut shell but I forgot

After showing us some of the machinery that the employers worked with at the farm the tour guide talked to us about a very important room they had on the premises. According to the tour guide they had the most beautiful bathroom and everyone took pictures in it and love it. So obviously all of us got in line and wanted to see this beautiful bathroom. The bathroom was amazing and very relaxing!!!!!! Haha. There was plants everywhere and the color of the toilet and the sink fit well and created a relaxing ambiance.

The most beautiful bathroom in Guatemala

Of course Danny & I had to have a picture in the relaxing and beautiful bathroom!

After we all had to look at in the bathroom and took our pictures we all headed into the room next door, where we could buy chocolates with macadamia nuts, and macadamia nuts still in the shells along with macadamia nut products. We also all had the opportunity to get a face massages with an oil that had macadamia nuts as one of its main ingredients. Our tour guide said it would make us look ten years younger. I don't know how I felt about looking ten and goingt through teen years al over again so I opted out. Haha, actually I was too afraid of some stranger touching my face and near my eyes. I have this weird thing where I cannot have people touch my eyes or face it's too awkward and I also did not want to possibly get an allergic reaction. But there was many people who tried the face massages with macadamia nut oil and they loved it they felt rejuvenated!!!

Dr. Golsan getting a face massage!

While people were getting face massages and buying macadamia nuts and the products I went to explore outside because I saw these giants leaves that really liked. For some reason in Guatemala they have all these GIGANTIC Leaves that just fascinate me and I want to take pictures of and with. They also had a lot of plants and trees and just a beautiful garden with PUPPIES!!!! I love puppies and they were so cute!!

With the GIANT leaves!!

In the garden!! The flower matched my dress!

The cute little puppy! He was adorable and I wanted to bring him home!

Everything in the farm went fine but I was a little scared on our way going home because right before we left it started pouring!!! It was raining so hard and I freaked out! On our way to the Farm I forgot t mention we passed by some places that had been affected by the storm and we were able to see the damage and so on our way back we had to cross a bridge and it was raining and it was a little scary I will admit. I decided then that there was no way I was going to go to Agua were there was sinkholes and mudslides, I am adventurous but I am not dumb. When we got back to Antigua safe and sound we all headed to the travel agency and we were told there was no way we could get our money back that it had already been used and blah blah blah. I was so upset because $25 multiplied by 9 is $225 which equals to 1,800Q and there was no way they had already spent this money. The guys was so rude and ridiculous and we all felt and I still feel very ripped off, but whatever.

Later that day when we returned from the travel agency we headed to Christina and Rachel's host family's house and talked with Dr. Golsan, Sonia, Christina, and Rachel. It was a lot of fun and we got to bond with everyone. I was really stoked because I got to talk more with Dr. Golsan and so now she wasn't the director but she was also a friend and we could come to her with anything. Literally anything we sat there and talked about movies and about books and about our trip so far and the activities we had managed to get done and school, and it was just GREAT. So I would say that getting to know her more and her daughter Sonia as well is one of the highlights of the trip for me because they are so much fun!

June 3rd--Woman Tertulia

Because many of our activities had to be canceled because of the weather, the storm and the volcano eruption, Dr. Golsan created a talk for women so that teacher's from our school could come to her house and talk to us about what life in Guatemala was like for them.

This activity was very interesting and definitely gave me a new outlook on how my life is so privilidged and different but also similar to theirs in a way. Some of the issues discussed in the talk was women in general, education and Machismo.

The talk was very interesting and hearing all of these women's stories was very empowering because they had a lot of obstacles to overcome but here they are still fighting and moving forward with their lives.

One of the greatest stories was Chrisitina's teacher Carmen's story who worked very young to make sure she could pay for her own education and even though her parents took most of her paycheck she would save up and hide her money and she managed to pay fr her own schooling. She worked for a long time at the pharmacy and learned very quickly all of the medicine and what it was for. I remember when I had amebas she definitely helped me a lot and knew what kind of medicine I needed. She was also able to read my prescription for me and so I did not have to pay 200Quetzales to have the doctor read it to me.

I was really happy that got to hear all of these women's stories and I was able to appreciate them that much more.

The Students and women who attended the Tertulia sobre la Mujer!

M&M Weekend: McDonald's & Maximón

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

Since we did not go to Agua in the morning which was 4AM when we were going to be up if we were going Danny and I got to sleep in until forever. I really needed it because I was exhausted and I am not sure what I was exhausted from exactly but I was. After breakfast we met up with Christina, Rachel and Emily. We were all supposed to go shopping and we did for a little bit until I got bored. It was soo hot and hungry and bored because I am just not a good shopper specially when I cannot buy anything. So after like 3 hours Danny and I headed out to the Market and then to McDonald's. Since it was a very clear day this time you could see the volcano. I do not think that we ate there but just looked around in the place and then took a picture by the fountain with the volcano in the background.

Me at McDonald's with the Volcano in the background!

Danny's picture includes the fountain & Volcano!

By this date my hair was really getting on my nerves so the picture above is after I got a haircut in Antigua for only 3 Dollars!! I actually think it is a very good haircut. My bangs are always the place where people who do my hair mess up but this lady did them perfectly she was a pro! I wish I could remember the place so that I could promote it here! Gosh Darn it! But Saturday was a fun relaxing day with the host family as well.

Today as well some of the people from our group went to Ciudad Vieja and donated some items. We were supposed to join them as well but we over slept. I heard it went great when we bumped into Emily Potter who told use they got to meet the Vice-President of Guatemala, which was great!

One last thing about today was that I picked up my shoes from this guy who fixed them for me. Because of all the rain my shoes were falling apart, they had holes on the side and everything. Well when I picked up my shoes and I asked him for a receipt he told me that he could not write, and then I started to think back and it hit me, there had been quite a few instances in which people had mentioned they could not read or write and this really bothered me but also made me appreciate this people so much more. You see these people had a lot of reasons to fail, they could not read or write their own name but yet they found a profession and they succeeded and that is admirable. I was saddened by the fact that they had this disadvantage but I also looked up to them and to the fact that they succeeded and they have a job and not just out on the streets begging for money blaming their inability to read or write as the reason they cannot get a job.

I love Guatemala and it's people who are always striving to be the best they can be!!!

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Today we all, well most of us went on a trip to Itzapa, to visit Maximón's temple. My teacher told me that before people wold go worship him right in the middle of the main plaza in Itzapa but when we got there we actually had to go to this kinda creepy place. We got dropped off by the bus and then walked in between two fields of corn and then found the place a little secluded and less public than what I had imagined.

We took the chicken bus there and what the chicken bus is like is pretty much a school bus, that has been remodeled and its a pretty cheap form of transportation in Guatemala.

Inside the Chicken bus, it's just like the school bus!

I hit my head when I exited the bus through the backdoor!

When we first go in it looked like there was a lot of garbage on the floor and what not well not a lot but more tha usual but Dr. Golsan said that this was stuff that was actually used to worship. There was a coupke of people burning the ground almost and I was a little afraid. In addition we saw more people in a circle right outside the temple and they had two black chickens that they were using to cleanse themselves and they were all passing them around. At the end what they would do would be to kill the chickens and offer them as a sacrifice for Maximón.

The entryway to Maximón's worship place!

People preparing to worship Maximón

People outside the Maximón temple, preparing for the chicken sacrifice

People praying to Maximón, notice how the fire is just on the ground!

After no longer being able to watch the sacrifice we all headed inside the temple were we saw a lot of candles all different colors and also Maximón himself. There was a welcome sign right above him, it was a little funny looking. We also saw a lot of candles all of different colors for the different meanings, and the black ones are the worst ones because i think they mean you are wishing for something very bad like a curse on someone or something like that. There was people who were lining up to go real close to Maximón and then get healed there by the witch doctor I would assume. The witch doctors were those people wearing red bandanas and they did cleansing what they did was that the person wold stand there and they would kinda hit them with different herbs and I mean hit like it sounds like it hurts. So after this the witch doctor would put alcohol in their mouth and then spit it out at the person all over their body it was a little gross to me. I was pretty okay with it until the witch doctor person did that to a little girl and then I judged a little. After all of this this witch man came and started talking to us and he was really creepy I got really scared when he looked at me so I just left outside. Outside the sacrifice was just staring and it was weird but I could not look away I was so Thankful that Danny stepped right in front of me as they cut the chickens heads off, or I would have probably flipped out.

Finally after everyone had their look we all started to leave but not before some people stopped outside to buy their
Maximón souvenirs. I was really creeped out so I did not buy anything and all I wanted to do was go to church because I felt like I had betrayed God by coming to a place where on Sunday instead of worshiping Him they worshiped someone else.


Maximón, I loved the beinvenidos sign!

People were up there infront of Maximón getting healed and what not

The different colored candles represent different things, the black candles are not good

The lady in the red is like a witch lady and with herbs she is cleansing the other lady

After cleansing the lady she spits alcohol around her body

Stand outside where you can buy Maximón related things

Finally after a while we all left to the chicken bus stop. During one of the stops I found a sign with my name on it and we saw two dogs who were stuck together and everyone laughed and so the mood was starting to change.

Finally we arrived in Antigua and we walked for what seemed forever until we arrived at this place where there was brunch, but by the time we got their brunch was over. Because Danny and I had had nothing to eat in the morning we were starving so instead of exploring with the rest of the group we walked to El Parque Central to find something to eat.

The whole group back in Antigua after our Maximón adventure!!

The parrot in the cafe, we saw it on our way out

Later that night I watched a movie and Danny and I went to dinner at this place called Madre Tierra, Mother Earth, which you would not believe but only served chicken!! I thought it would serve salads--not that I would have any, but it was a delicious meal.

Oh yeah one final thing was that on this day I finished reading the book Sarah's Key which was really interesting. It was a nonfiction book about the holocaust in France and how the French police had locked up and exterminated many families.

I had a great time on Sunday and I even managed to make it to mass in Spanish!!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tikal

I feel like I have been up for hours and hours and I really want to sleep because tomorrow starts the last week of school. I cannot believe that in two weeks I am going to go home, that is just too insane, I don't think I want to go home but a part of me does so it is all bittersweet.

So on Saturday we all left to TIKAL in Peten Guatemala it was AMAZING!! Except that I was up since 4AM and had gone to bed at 11PM. I also found out that night I was allergic to Penut-Butter. I made PB&J sandwiches for Danny, just jelly for me and then I broke out in hives it was super intense. I also packed all of my stuff and was proud that I was only taking a backpack. When I saw everyone else who some had two luggage I was in shock it was only a weekend!!! But anyway we got picked up at 4AM and then we drove to a small airport in Guatemala city. The plane was so small it only fit 19 people so two of the people in our group left in a previous flight.

View from the plane! Can you see the volcano?

Danny & I in the plane! The aisle was in between us and we still look squished, which gives you an idea of how small the plane was

Danny & I in Peten after the plane ride

I am not sure how long we were flying but I think it was for an hour maybe hour an a half. We left at 6:30AM and arrived at like 7:30AM. When we arrived in Peten it was soo bright! But after a while of waiting for peoples bags to come we got on the road. On the way to Tikal our shuttle stopped in Alligator Island and it was amazing the water was so clear and you could see everything. We only stopped for about 10 minutes and it was a bummer because it was so humid hot that I wanted to just grab my swimsuit and jump into the water and cool down.

The water was soo blue and clear!!

The sky was also blue and this little hut thing was adorable!! Quite a place to take pictures!

I am standing on stairs that lead down to the water!

Danny & Me, the green you see behind us looks like an Alligator

After ten minutes we all headed back to the shuttle and headed to our Hotel which was near Tikal. After sometime we finally go there and it was so pretty. Well our hotel was it had a pool and there was a lot of butterflies just flying around or on the grass. We were all excited to finally be there and we were even more excited after we found out instead of having a tour right away we would have it later and it would be split up. Meaning instead of going from a long trip and being up since 4AM to a 6 hour tour we would have time off to rest and relax, and our tour would be turned into a two day tour. So the down side was that tomorrow we would be having to wake up at 5AM, but it was worth it.

Nora & I outside one of the hotel rooms

View from April & Emily's Room, We were right below them!

The pool was tons of fun!!

This is Robert, he was hiding underneath the pool!

Danny and I went to explore!

After a long time of relaxing which was definitely needed we all met up to go on our tour but not before spraying ourselves over and over with Deet to keep the mosquitoes away. Honestly, I felt like I had showered in Deet & OFF but also I was happy because for a while it had rained and so that meant that mosquitoes would not be out.

Before starting out on our tour our tour guide took us to see this model of the park. He showed us this model that was huge and then explained to us what we would be doing today and then tomorrow. I was a bit upset because it looked like there was going to be a lot of walking and I was still tired and grouchy from lack of sleep but we headed off on our adventure.

The model of Tikal

Our tour guide and the owner of Tikal Inn, the hotel where we stayed

But before we left we found out that there was alligators in the swamp looking small lakes nearby. Danny and I had actually come earlier and had seen one. One of the people from the place told us about how there used to be a big alligator about 2 meters long that used to be there in the swamp but them got killed because it killed a man and a little boy.

One of the signs that warned people about the alligator

A small alligator


When we stood outside the park there was a sign that stated all of the things you could not do in the park it was intense to just see a sign with all the don'ts. Our tour guide mentioned that he would be focusing a lot on the floral part of the tour and he would be pointing out a lot of trees, flowers, and other flora that he thought were important.
The tour started with him first explaining to us that there was two trees that could help tourists. One was a tree whose leaves could help with Montezuma's Revenge, the sickness that is diarrhea pretty much and then there is another tree that helps with sun burns.
We then moved on to another tree that e said inspired the producers of AVATAR. It was a gigantic tree, in one photograph I was not able to fit in the whole tree, but it looked amazing when you looked up top. Our tour guide told us about how the Mayan people believed that if you buried people underneath this tree their souls would then be taken to heaven because they would reach the top.

After visiting the magical and gigantic tree we moved on to another part of the forest where there was a branch hanging from it and we could swing on one of the branches. I waited with a couple of other people until most of our group left because I did not want to be embarrassed if I could not hold on long enough but it was a lot of fun!!

Finally after a lot of walking we reached one of the ruins. It was amazing to finally see them up close and to touch them and actually be able to climb them. It was incredible to just be in the presence of structures that were years and years old.

We got to climb this ruin behind me and even though it does not look tall it actually was!! Anathony and I were the first ones up there!

If you remove the top brick of this structure it won't fall apart!

After some more walking we actually walked over to the tallest ruin in South America, according to our tour guide and when we go to the top I could see over the trees. I could actually see the top of the trees. At first there was some fog but after a while the fog moved a way and far in the distance we could see that there was more ruins that stuck out far above the trees. During the time there our tour guide asked if anyone would like to make a call and so I called my father! HE was very excited for me and told me to take lots of pictures so he could see, to which I said of course.
Almost at the top!

I was soo excited to be there!!

And one more picture of me

Finally after the fog cleared we could see the rest of the ruins

We were bold enough to take a jumping picture!

One our way out of the park, this is a picture of the ruin we were on top of in the previous pictures

It turned out to be a great day and a great tour despite the lack of sleep! On our way out it was dark and I got bit by 1 mosquito which was a great accomplishment. But I also made sure to put more Deet on.

When we were finally out of the park we were all starving and out tour guide recommended that we eat at one of his friends restaurants instead of at the hotels because he said they could really use the money. When we got there the place seemed fine, but they took forever to make our food and serve it to us. Actually people were done with their meals and our table had not been served. To make matter worse once we were all getting ready to leave and were paying we say a huge and I mean HUGE rat scurry out from the kitchen. It was so gross. Nora said that it was not in the kitchen that because this place did not have walls like the rest the rat probably just ran though. I don't know I just know I was really grossed out, I don't like rats/mice/hamster at all they creep me out and are really nasty to me.

After our meal we all headed back for a late night swim, I swam for like 20 minutes and the showered and went to bed I was super exhausted!! I was supposed to actually go back after my shower and wait for our tour guide so that we could go look for a Jaguar but I could not stay up. At 10PM I woke up from my sleep to Christina's screams that the lights went out while she was showering. It was hilarious but I was too tired to help her so Danny helped her out I think.

The next day we were up again by 5:30AM and got ready to head out for another tour. Again we showered ourselves in Deet and OFF to keep the mosquitoes away I did not want to get bitten because I had seen some of the other girls and they had too many bites. I was also not taking my malaria pills so I did not want to catch malaria.

Even though it was super early I was excited to continue the tour because the night before we had passed by the main plaza, which we would be visiting today and so I was excited!! During this tour we mainly walked until we came to our first attraction which was a ruin that was gigantic and then we climbed up these wooden stairs to the top where we took pictures.

A Map of Tikal, just incase we got lost I took a picture!

You wouldn't believe it but with my strength I split the tree and was holding it apart! haha

The stairs we had to climb
At the top!!

The white flower that you can barely see, only blooms once a year and today was that day!!!

The Christmas Card Picture like our tour guide called it

Nora and her favorite students, Danny and Me!!!

Clara and I, Clara was afraid of heights but she conquered her fear!!!

Michelle wanted a picture too I was honored!!

We could see the top of the trees again!!

It was soo easy to fall, that Michelle and I were the only bold ones enough to take a jumping picture!

Once we were down from the ruin, which by the way we had to climb down the stairs the same way we climbed up, we all saw a big spider. It was a little scary that in Guatemala all of the bugs are huge!!! But this was a 7 legged huge spider! Our tour guide actually tried to catch it with his are hands, and everyone flipped out. The spider was also unique in the sense that it did not crawl but jumped instead that just threw everyone off and everyone screamed and ran away.
As we were searching for a glimpse of the howling monkeys which sound like dinosaurs by the way, I found, well actually Danny found this hobbit's home as we like to call it. It was in the middle of the ground, there was a door and it was locked and I really wish we could have gone inside and seen what was in there.
It was a little sad to take the picture below because it made me upset that people really think that inside of a tree is where the garbage goes. As you can see this tree log was hollow and people put in there their plastic bottles, styrefoam cups, paper bags and chip bags. Sad that they couldn't just put it in their backpacks and throw it away later but they just disposed of it in Nature, which is not fair because nature didn't create these things so it doesn't know how to dispose of them. So PLEASE STOP RUINING THE PLANET AND PUT YOUR TRASH IN A TRASH CAN!!!!!!!

We finally found the holler monkeys

After a little more walking we finally made it to the plaza, where we all went nuts taking picture. I climbed one of the ruins and the view was breathtaking. Our trip there was cu ery short though because we had to go but nonetheless it was great!!

Christina & Me=BFFs
Danny is a great photographer! This Particular Ruin Plays a role in the Calendar

When people think of Tikal they often think about this particular ruin!
It was way too bright so my face is funny!
We finally all head home exhausted but completely satisfied with our trip! I had such an amazing time and learned so much and saw much more than what is in these pictures and honestly no picture in the world could capture everything I saw and how truly beautiful it was!

Danny & I by the plane heading back to Guatemala, City

I would like to give a special shout out and Thank You to the school of International Studies at Pacific who funded my trip to Tikal!