I had a wonderful 8 days in Guatemala. I went there with my younger sister Mindy and we enjoyed the beautiful scenery, friendly people, and Mayan ruins. Mindy was stayed another week -- she was sent there for a work conference, she works for a large multinational corporation.
We arrived in Guatemala City and spent the night in Antigua (Antigua the Guatemalan city, not the tropical island). Our hotel was an old monastery that is now a luxury hotel that has 5 museums on the property.
Me at the old monastery/luxury hotel
The next morning, we went to the Mayan highland city of Cichicastanango. It was Sunday market day, VERY crowded and festive. Each Mayan village has its own fabric for their traditional clothing. The market is famous for the handwoven fabrics, and the amazing vegetable market.
The Catholic church is very beautiful. It is similar to other churches built by the conquistadors, because it was built on top of the Mayan pyramid that was the center of their native religion, and the form of the church matches the pyramid in following the 4 cardinal points (North, South, East & West). But the church is also somewhat unique, because they allow the native shamans to conduct their rituals on the steps of the church, and shamanic offering altars are set up in the main aisle inside the church. When we were inside (no photos allowed), there was a Catholic christening at the baptismal font, Mayan families putting offering on the pagan altars, a shaman consulting with someone, and Christians praying in the pews.
The brightly colored structures across town from the market are family burial sites and crypts in the Mayan cemetery. They had been freshly painted the month before on the day after all souls day, and offerings were left by each family. Very festive and very different from the quiet memorial garden where my father’s ashes are buried at the Episcopal church!
We spent the night in Panajachel at Lake Atitlan.
Our hotel (no, we didn't sleep in the hammocks!)
Hotel was right on the lake -- this is the view from the restaurant.
There was a museum inside the hotel that included many ancient Mayan artifacts that have been recovered from the lake bottom by deep sea archeologists.
Lake Atitlan is a high mountain lake is surrounded by volcanos.
There are 5 Mayan villages around the lake, each with a different style of fabric.
Mindy and I went to the nature preserve to observe the beautiful butterflies, birds, and flowers. We hiked to the top of a steep canyon, where Mindy did a zip line (8 segments) across the canyon and over the waterfall. I chickened out and walked down, even though I had paid for the zip line. The guides were very kind and offered to hold on to me the whole way – but I just couldn’t do it. The hike down was beautiful.
Bottom of zipline
I'll blog more later!