Parque Nacional de Tikal; the island of Flores, Antigua, the Chichi Market, Pana, being in the highlands of Guatemala
Platos de Frutas; anything with Guacamole; tamales cooked in banana leaves
Quetzal (7.45 Quetzals to 1 $USD)
It is difficult traveling through this extremely beautiful country and not reflect about the civil strife Guatemalans endured in the recent past. There have been many times I catch myself gazing at a hectic market place filled with colorful fabrics and the smell of grilled chicken or soaking in the incredible mountainous landscape and wonder what it must have been like to live thorough those turbulent times of the 70’s and 80’s. For example, In Antigua, we toured a gorgeous rebuilt colonel home with a lavish courtyard and art filled rooms to only find out that it was restored by an old executive of the United Fruit company. I know the environment, built and natural, are mostly the same, but the people... I was here in 1984 and Guatemala still impacts all my senses and my conscious. Recent Central American history from the local peoples perspective should be a required high school course. Politics, land distribution issues, multinational corporations, American Foreign policy, indigenous culture rights, religious aspects and the impact of war all rolled into one. How many Americans realize what happened here in the late 70s and early 80s. Ok, enough commentary and onto this beautiful country.
Spending the day at the Tikal ruins; our first glimpses of monkeys, climbing the ruins, Therese scaling Templo IV,the rural farm landscape of the Peten region; riding the famous chicken buses in rural Guatemala; going to church and the fabulous fabric colors of market day at Chichicastenango; overlooking Antigua from the Café Sky; how the volcanoes dominate the landscape of central Guatemala; stopping at the top of the rim overlooking Lago Atitlan; the steepness and greenness of the mountains; the people.
Tikal; Staying in Flores and getting up at 5:30 to take the hour bus ride or spend the extra money and stay at a more expensive Tikal hotel to make sure you get there early to beat the heat and see more of the wildlife. Bring food and water into the park to avoid the 30 minute hike out. I enjoyed staying on the isla of Flores. cobblestone streets, great basketball each night and numerous places to eat. Tour operators dominate the scene and try to sell trips from Antigua to Cancun. Do your research and check prices to you may save money. There is a big difference in cost between the tourist shuttle vans and the chicken buses. As for me, I was on several chicken buses that passed that tourist vans on the rode. Antigua, very easy to be in. hotels, good food, etc. major international hang out because of the spanish lessons. spanish lessons for half of the day are readily available. If you take a week or more of lessons make sure to request the homestay, which includes food and lodging. We were able to take a weekend trip from Antigua to visit Lago Atitlan and the Sunday Market at Chichi. There is a 7:00am express chicken bus from downtown Pana to Chichi on market day. Numerous buses go back to Antigua after the market.