Laguna Chichibal and the Royal Paris

Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Kiktem-ja Hotel

Flag of Guatemala  ,
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Our next day in Xela, we decided to visit Laguna Chichibal, a lake in an extinct volcano used to this day by the Mayans as a sacred place where they conduct rituals.  The mountain is just outside of San Martin about a 45 min drive from Xela. From there it is a substantial walk over around 2 miles over a very steep and dusty road and down into Lagun Seca where you pay and then walk another 3km up to the top of the steep that we were grateful for birdwatching opportunities as we climbed along.   Finally we reached the summit and took a little side trail down to a view point where we could see the lake.  There was a white sandy beach along the rim and a group of Mayan dressed Guatemalans were there blowing a shell horn and engaged in some sort of ritual ceremony.  We stayed high up on the slopes and busied ourselves with the constant antics of the hummingbirds.  One was huge at 5-6" and Violet blue and another was less than half that size and looked much like a Ruby Throat but only 2" tall.
      We eventually made our way back down the road and caught a ride in the back of a pickup truck to the main road where we picked up a van (micro- bus).  It would typically hold 15 people; but in Guatemala that blossomed to 25.  Some of the school children were forced to semi-stand and hold on while others were literally hanging out the door and holding on to a piece of the door to keep from falling out.  Worse even than a chicken bus!!!
     For the evening, we went to the Royal Paris restaurant since it came highly recommended in our guide.  It is run by a French couple and is upstairs above a fairly quiet street.  We had the best meal since we left the U.S. and nice glasses of wine.  I saw our waiter and the owner's son wink at each other and then leave....moments later two long strings of firecrackers erupted in the street below.  The owner and his wife ran out to the balcony and began was his birthday and that was part of the celebration.  And since it was Thursday night...a jazz quintet showed up to play...hugs and congratulations all around followed by a birthday cake with trick candles that he couldn't blow out and then they settled in to play.  What wonderful music.  A trumpet with a muffler, castinets, bongos, guitar and bass guitar and the vocalist was just terrific.  It made a wonderful end to another good day.
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