Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Guatemala and Honduras Road Trip

Guatemala & Honduras Road Trip

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

We have left Kanilela in Marina Puerto Chiapas, in Mexico, and ventured out into Guatemala, with a short side trip to Honduras. Think volcanos, verdant green vegetation, Mayan ruins, colonial Spanish buildings, mountain roads and, hopefully not while we are here, major earthquakes. We are travelling with Paul and Judy of s/v Grace. They are northbound after five years away from Seattle. Their voyage has taken them down to Ecuador and an extended Panama visit.

The route thus far, the green star is Kanilela in Pto. Chiapas

I have included a map with straight lines from stop to stop that belie the circuitous routes the roads generally take.

An active Volcano

We left the marina at 10:00 and rode with Josh ( to Quetxaltenango, Xela (shaylah) in Mayan, arriving at the Posada Antigua, we highly recommend, in the early afternoon. After climbing high in the mountains, surrounded by volcanos, the setting is amazing.

It is a town with many language schools that friends have attended but really has no large amount of tourism. Although the construction dates to the early colonial period and the streets and buildings are much as they were several hundred years ago, it is a working city, home to friendly helpful people.
Mags in Plaza Enrique in Xela
The surrounding mountains are intensely cultivated on nearly vertical slopes. All the work is by hand, as no equipment could work the slopes which are not terraced as they would be in Asia.

Josh provided transport for a day trip up to the pre-classical Mayan ruins at Takalik Abaj and a visit to a finca (farm) producing coffee, rubber, macademia nuts, rambutan and chocolate. Fabulous trip!

Coffee beans
Chocolate pods

Latex Rubber
And flowers everywhere

See our bungalow in the trees

After 3 nights in Xela we rode with Josh to the town of Panajachel on Lago Atitlan. The lake has several villages on the shore line but, because the volcanic mountains are so steep, there is no coastal road so publico pangas are the transport.

Boardwalk from Santa Cruz pier to
Isla Verde
Family climbing hill in Santa Cruz village

We stayed at the Isla Verde Hotel at the village of Santa Cruz de la Laguna.  It is an 8 minute walk on the boardwalk from the village pier. The village is a steep 15 minutes up from the pier and is populated by Kaqchikel Mayans. Proud, somewhat shy, but easy to smile people. We took another publico trip around the lake with close-up view of several villages and an afternoon stop in San Pedro.

View from Santa Cruz, Isla Verde
in small bay
Mags with Antigua behind
 From Lago Atitlan we travelled by collectivo van to Antigua the original Spanish government center for this entire area. Antigua is a World Heritage Site famous for its colonial period churches and architecture and tourism, particularly from Europe is very big. We were fortunate at Lago Atitlan to meet Tim who’s son Riley owns the hotel we were at. Tim told us about an inexpensive, modest hotel, Hotel Burkhard that was close to the center.

English project - Interview some tourists
Love this entry
Antigua speaks for itself, a great time.

Colonial columns

A Seismic event

Another earthquake victim
Andrew and the boys
After three days in Antigua we travelled east to the border and crossed into Honduras. We went from 7.5 Guatemalan quetzales to the US$ to the 21.5 Honduran Lempiras to the US$ and who knows how the Canadian dollar is doing against the US. I miss the Mexican Pesos!

Second from left - 18 Rabbits ---...
look for it

Eighteen Rabbit - a good guy
although pretty narcissistic!

The Ball Court and 64 step stairs
with glyphs
We stayed at The Posada Copan Hotel where Luis and Jose did a great job looking after us.

And I thought buildings dating to the 1540's were impressive, how about buildings from 500 AD with a heritage in the area dating to 1500 BC? The thirteenth ruler of Copan, 18 Rabbit, (love that name) did a huge amount of construction that included the use of a very high relief detail that has lasted much better than the usual surface carving. They used a base 5 counting system – for 5, . for zeros, so in the glyphs, look for ---… put together somewhere and you have found 18 Rabbit's handiwork. Archeology is so easy!

The scale of the site is immense, so again, Copan can speak for itself.

After three days in Copan we returned to Guatemala and then to the Caribbean coast to Puerto Barrios, a large dusty freighter port that also has pangas that run 40 min. to Livingstone. Livingstone is a small coastal town with no roads into it, at the mouth of the Rio Dulce River. We are staying in the Hotel Rios Tropical enjoying a distinct Caribbean feel. We have had our first day of heavy tropical rain, ideal for working on the blog.
Livingston Today, or Why I Have Time To Blog

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