Saturday, April 13, 2013

Guatemala

After only a few days in Belize, we headed to Guatemala.  The border crossing, AGAIN, was pretty easy thanks to step-by-step instructions from LifeRemotely.com.  

Guatemala is a gorgeous country with caves, rivers, large lakes, ocean, mountains, good smooth roads, and lots of really bad roads.  Our visit to Guatemala started at the mother-of-all Mayan ruins called Tikal.  Indeed, they were impressive, but to be honest, our favorite part was the wildlife. Tikal is set in a lush jungle where we watched spider and howler monkeys, with babies clinging to their backs, seemingly flying between trees. We also saw our first toucan.  Did you know that toucans are actually pretty small? Not how I remember them from the Fruit Loops commercials.

You can't climb most of the big ruins in Tikal because they are too steep and people have died in the past


Paddleboarding up the Canon del Boqueron
After Tikal, we hit a few tourist destinations, including a hot waterfall (El Paraiso), a river canyon with towering limestone cliffs (El Boqueron), and a more famous place called Semuc Champey. Semuc Champey is a series of crystal clear pools set in the jungle on a bridge of land that happens to be over a river. You would never know there is a river below you while you swim in the crystal pools above.

For me, all of these places were awesome, because, among other things, I love swimming in clear, fresh water.  Driving to most of them took a long time on horrible roads. For Scott, it was an okay experience, but nothing he would've done without me--too much wear and tear on the truck.  Oh well, we can't agree on everything. Heather gives Guatemala two thumbs up.  Scott, gives one thumb up and one thumb down.

One of the gorgeous pools at Semuc Champey

In each country we visit, I finally get the geography and history education that I never absorbed as a youth (okay, as an adult too).  It seems to be a trend here in Central America (we're in El Salvador as I write this), that the history of the U.S. in these countries has not been favorable.  Quite the opposite, in fact.

As for the recent history in Guatemala (1950s and beyond), this is how my simple mind understands it...  Leading up to 1960, the poor and indigenous population had reached their limits of poverty, starvation, and racism. Uprisings culminated in the start of the Guatemalan Civil War in 1960.  The U.S. supported the Guatemala government because they felt any move against the government was in the direction of socialism/communism.  During the civil war, Guatemalan military officers were trained by the US Army. It was later learned that the U.S. was aware of the Guatemalan military's murder, rape, torture, and genocide of the Guatemaltecans. In 1999, the US government all but apologized for America's support of the brutal civilian killings. Unfortunately, this was after 200,000 people had already been killed. Clearly, it's much more complicated than this, but too much for this blog.

After the war ended in 1996, Guatemala did witness both economic growth and successive democratic elections. Guatemala felt safe, and the people were friendly, but I wonder how these people look at us Americans without just a hint of disdain.

I put together our pictures with detailed captions hoping to tell the story of our visit to Guatemala here:  Guatemala pictures


1 comment:

Patricia Edgar said...

Hi Heather and Scott,
Fritz feels the same way about Guatemalan roads... I just laugh (to myself) and remind him they will get worse the futher south we go! He finally decided he was driving a bit too slow after we got passed by a guy on a bike (not a motorcycle a bike)! We will be in Guatemala for another 2 weeks and then to the beach!