Back in Antigua

Trip Start Jun 09, 2005
Trip End Aug 11, 2005

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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Hello...I'm back in Antigua, Guatemala!

Had a great 10 days since I last wrote. We've done a lot more travelling this time, a few 9 hour days on a Mexican coach...wasn't too bad though as they have air con and films! At Cancun some more folks joined us. Different bunch of people....and they have all been lots of fun!

We left Canun and visited a couple more Mayan sites, the first was Chichen Itza a really touristic Mayan site. The second was Palenque. This site had been well restored and looked after and the Mexican tour guide who took us round was really interesting.

In the afternoon of the Palenque tour we visited Agua Azul, these were massive waterfalls, unfortunately it has been raining a lot recently so the waterfalls weren't quite so blue...more of a muddy brown....we just had to imagine!!

From there we headed up into the Mexican Mountains through the Lacadon cloud forest to San Cristobal. As we were checking into the hotel, I saw Becca and Simon from Uni walking past the window. Spoke to them briefly as they were just leaving San Cristobal and heading up through Mexico to the US...its a small world!

San Cristobal was also the town where I celebrated my BIRTHDAY! During the day we all went on a speed boat ride through Canyon Sumidero which had 1000ft cliffs. Saw some crocodiles and lots of birds...taken a great photo of some Pelicans for you Trevor! In the evening we had a rum and tequila cocktail party in my honor...lethal!! It was wicked quite drunk - no surprises there! San Cristobal was quite a lively town so we all went out clubbing after...didn't quite make the salsa dancing though.

The next day with a slight hangover we took a Chaipan Indian village tour. This was extremely of the most fascinating tours so far. We visited the villages of Chamula and Zinacantan. They are not small bout 60,000 people in each and even though the villages are only a few miles apart, each village has their own Mayan language, neither can understand each other with Spanish the common language. The religion is similar though, a cross between traditional Mayan religion (this includes sacrificing chickens, making offerings of corn to the gods) and the catholic religion. They also have their own way of law. Criminals can only be put in prison for max 3 days, if they can't pay the fine then they have to become unpaid police offices but the lowest police officers, in that they have to wash the prison floors and police religious festivals. They also believe in lots of random things such as drinking cola is good as you burp and burping is good as it expels the evil spirt, so they also take offerings of cola to the their churches...very strange! Kids don't have to go to school so the literacy rate is pretty low. In the whole of Mexico there are 12 million Mayans, still wearing traditional dress, living in basic conditions. I didn't know any of this before I came and had the stereo type of Mexicans in Somberos, downing tequila...its opened my eyes!!

Now we've crossed the border again and we're back in Guatemala. On the way to Antigua we stopped off at Lake Atitlan. A lake surrounded by 3 volcanoes. We all went on a mountain bike ride here. Lots harder than we thought....lots of steep hills, hard work cycling up but great fun riding down!! In the afternoon we sunbathed as the weather was beautiful....the sun has come out at last, after a week of mostly clouds and rain!

Thats it so far. Five people are leaving our group of 15 and we have 6 more joining and a new rookie tour leader...its a guy this time...hopefully he'll be lots of fun!

I've uploaded some photos for this leg so check them out. Adios amigos!
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