Thursday, November 19, 2015

guatemala: part 1

As you may know, Edwin is from Guatemala, so it seemed like a natural place to go as part of our honeymoon. We knew we wanted to go there and someone else, and it just sort of evolved into a 3.5 week trip with 4 countries involved! Edwin did ALL the planning, and did an awesome job at it. We had hotels lined up everywhere we went, the whole shebang. This post is about the first part of our Guatemalan road trip in our rented Hyundi Tucson. (which in Spanish, by the way, is pronounced exactly how it looks: Tuck-son. This cracked me up.)

First, some Guatemalan facts for you:
  • Guatemala has population of about 15 million 
  • Is is 1/8 the size of the province of BC (considering the population of CANADA is 35 million, this is VERY dense) 
  • The money used is called quetzales, which is their national bird (quetzales to Canadian dollars is about 6:1) 
  • It was rainy season when we were there, meaning some days were probably a very similar temperature to here at the same time

The map above is a journey of our Guatemalan & Belizian road trip. I put numbers next to the circles so you can see where we went: (sorry, the numbers are a bit small!)

1. Guatemala City (where Edwin's parents live)
2. Antigua Guatemala (where our photo shoot was - about one hour from Guatemala City)
3. Retalhuleu (the water park & amusement park we went to)
4. Panajachel (the city on the lake with volcanoes)
5. Chichicastenango (for the Sunday market)
6. Rio Dulce (for an overnight stop on a loooong drive)
7. Tikal (to see pyramids!)
8. Hopkins, Belize

Place number 2 - Antigua, Guatemala. A gorgeous city with tons of history. Edwin's parents hired a photographer to take pictures of us here, and then we had an awesome typical Guatemalan lunch at a nearby restaurant. Going to Antigua was a day trip as it is about 1 hour from Edwin's parents house. (I might have slept in the car both ways... but there is beautiful scenery, I swear!)

Tortillas are served with EVERYTHING. And I love it, I won't lie. Plantains are also very common, especially for breakfast. The food at this restaurant, Rincon Suizo, was amazing.

We made it to our first hotel, in Retalhuleu (said like retal-who-lay-oo). There were peacocks just hanging out everywhere! I wanted to be friends with them. This is us hanging out.

Edwin told me we were staying at a hostel. I was not super thrilled, but when we got there, turns out the name of the hotel is just "Los Hostales." As it turned out, a very nice hotel! (you can see it rained in this picture)

Thanks goodness for underwater cameras! This provided me with hours of entertainment in various hotel pools and beaches.

This is the water park we went to. It is across the street from the hotel, so you take a little underground train and it drops you right off. Interestingly enough, there are IRTRA hotels & parks all over the country. What happens is if you work for pretty much any employer in Guatemala, you automatically pay into a membership into these parks. Since it was rainy season, the parks weren't super busy, but apparently they do get quite busy in certain seasons. (the name of the part is said like "shock-oh-meal")

I love water! Also, future modelling career with alligators possibly?!

Turns out, this guy does too! I think I've increased his enjoyment to hang around around water now.

The lazy river! I could have done this 17 times.

This is at the amusement park now, which is right beside the water park. This is a jaguar they had there, one of two in separate cages.

Some of these pictures aren't ah-maze-ing, but I mean, you get the idea! The park had different areas of the world to it, this was a European area. We had lunch at an Italian restaurant. It was also pouring rain this day. If you look closely, we are SOAKED. It wasn't cold though! Fun/sad fact about Shannon and amusement parks: she can't do roller coasters like she used to.

After being in Retalhuleu for two nights, we drove to Panajachel. You may have seen this picture a few times already, but I don't think it will ever get old! It was so gorgeous there on the lake. Those are volcanoes that you see, as well.

For breakfast, you could order the "Americano" breakfast (American style) or the "Chapin" breakfast. A "Chapin" is a slang term for a Guatemalan person, kind of like calling a Canadian a "Canuck." I had the Chapin breakfast :) (Desayunos = breakfasts)

Tortillas again, so beautiful this time!

We took a boat across the lake to a city called Atitlan. I got 100% authentic Guatemalan street food: french fries! They come in a plastic bag, and they literally just drizzle ketchup and hot sauce into the plastic bag.

More authentic food; I think this was as authentic as we got. See the lady on the left side of the photo? She is the waitress and the cook. She is making all the food right there on the street. The food (and beer) was VERY cheap here. We ate with the locals.

We wandered the city through a bunch of stores, markets, and other places. This was a cool fair we came upon, with a whole bunch of colorful Guatemalan candy.

Edwin and his GIANT beer. (Gallo is the beer of Guatemala)

Guatemalan pizza; looks & tastes pretty similar to pizza here!

After Panajachel, we went to Chichicastenango for the Sunday market. Wow, it was nuts! This is walking up some stairs to go inside the church. A lot of Guatemala is Catholic, but this city is primarily Mayan Catholic. (the flowers being sold were gorgeous)

You can see the market behind us here. I guess tarps were in case of rain! We did buy something at the market, you can see the green bag in my hand. We bought a little turtle for my parents; they collect them from trips.

This was SO cool. This is a cemetery. See how colorful it is? Depending on the day you died, this is what determined the color tombstone you received. It was typically a family color.
I'll pause here and follow up with Rio Dulce, Tikal, and Belize in another post! Otherwise this post is going to take you 6 weeks to read...

Hopefully you enjoy hearing about our trip and seeing pictures! It's fun just for me to re-visit all the photos and tell stories about the places we were. It was seriously so much fun. It was also very cultural and I felt like I learned a lot! Here's to hoping for many more trips like this with my man :)

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