Tuesday, November 24, 2015

guatemala: part 2 (and belize!)

We are now onto the next leg of our Guatemala & Belizian adventure. As you recall from last time, this was our overall plan for the road trip:


In the last post, we went to a bunch of cities in Guatemala: Antigua, Retalhuleu, Panajachel, and Chichicastenango. (I love the names of the city - this alone kept me entertained practicing how to say them) From the market in Chichi (the cool, short form of Chichicastenango I learned), we went to Rio Dulce. Then, we drove quite far North to Tikal, and then East to Belize. We did a lot of driving, but had tons of fun along the way. Road trips are awesome. 


This is at our hotel in Rio Dulce. It was basically a stop overnight on our drive to Tikal, which was quite far. However, we enjoyed the morning in the sun before heading out for our next portion of the drive. This scenery was really pretty as it was on a lake.

Tikal National Park is 575 square km of ruins and jungle in Guatemala. The hotel we stayed at is the ONLY hotel located inside the national park, and was quite the adventure to stay at. They did not have air conditioning, but did have giant ceiling fans. They had electricity during the day, but asked you to use it conservatively during the night as they were on generators then. They had one little restaurant, but had limited supply of items. (They had run out of avocados, bummer) It was a positive experience, but definitely different than a 'normal' hotel!

You are seeing correctly - there is jaguars in the jungle in the park. There is strict guidelines on when you can be in the park, and if it is in the dark, you must be with a certified guide. (I guess they are trained in jaguar confrontations?!)

Alas, this was the ONLY animal we saw in the entire national park. It is a capybara-like animal.

We went on a tour with a guide on the day we were there. It was about a 3 hour walk through the jungle and ruins. The ruins in this park are gorgeous. You can only climb some of the pyramids, since they are trying to preserve some and for safety reasons.

Such pretty stone work; everything was very beautiful.

At the top of one of the pyramid. Back in the day, this area would have been 'downtown' Tikal, where everyone hung out and all events happened. 

Do you see the monkey in the middle of this photo?! It was the only monkey we saw on the ENTIRE trip!! I thought for sure we'd see more in Costa Rica, or elsewhere, but nope. This was it! He was a spider monkey jumping through the trees around the pyramids.

Okay, so, some of the pyramids are VERY high. Like climb a billion flights of stairs high. This is one of them... but the view at the top is gorgeous!! See next photo.

This is at the top of the aforementioned climb. You are way above the treetops! Its gorgeous! See the pyramids in the background too? Super cool!! I will admit, worth the looonnnggg climb.

After seeing the ruins in Tikal, we headed out on our drive to Belize with our trusty map. (#MajorTourists) The border crossing from Guatemala to Belize was pretty special. Border crossings in Central America are nothing like the one we are used to here with Canada/the US! There are no instructions whatsoever on where to go or what to do. This results in us not exiting Guatemala properly (you have to "check out" of the country) and having to pay a small fine to re-enter. Whoops!

The hotel we were staying at had a great restaurant, but only one. We wanted to eat something local and explore, so Tina's Kitchen was recommended to us. Now, keep in mind that the city we were in, Hopkins, is only a town of 1,000 people, there aren't a lot of restaurants to try! Tina's Kitchen was basically a little shack with some tables and chairs, and Tina herself in the kitchen.

My lunch at Tina's Kitchen - shrimp with rice and beans. SO GOOD. I ate it all up. Plus, a Belikin to drink, Belize's national beer. (it was so hot, you NEEDED a cold drink at all times)

We biked around town!

This is the most colorful library I've ever seen - I love it!

We had indicated we were on a honeymoon at all hotels we stayed at, and this was the first that did something special for that. Champagne, flowers & candles! We took our champagne down to the beach and drank it there.

The view of the the super moon we had from dinner.

Oh how I adore the ocean. (and this super cute bathing suit cover up my mom got me last year in the Caribbean!)

Honeymoon life is the best life. #HammockLounging

My handsome husband. This pool was lovely, right beside the ocean. It was HOT here, I think mid-30's or so, but felt like more due to humidity.

Swim up bars = best invention.

I drove in Belize!!!!

The above concluded our road trip. We drove from Belize all the way back to Guatemala City, which was about a 14 hour drive, including a few stops. It was a long day! Once we were back in Guatemala, we spent a few days at Edwin's parents and did some family activities.

We had lunch with Edwin's friend Alejandro.


We went to the beach with Edwin's dad's side of the family. Right to Left in this photo is: Edwin's dad, Edwin's dad's brother, Jorge, his wife Amanda, and myself.

Edwin and his niece Stephanie.


Little Liam. He is way too cute.

Edwin's parents threw us a mini-wedding reception at a hotel in Guatemala City. This is Edwin's uncle (Edwin's moms brother) Tio David, showing us which treadmill is his at the gym in the hotel. (he works out here a few times a week.)

At the top of the hotel with Edwin's mom post-reception


McDonald's does delivery in Guatemala! As does Subway, Wendy's etc. I found that so fascinating. This was at a McDonalds restaurant where they kept all their delivery motorcycles.

Did you know: Happy Meals from McDonalds were invented at this exact restaurant we were at?! Therefore, they shaped it like a happy meal. Kinda fun!

Next, we are off to Costa Rica! We flew first class, and got "priority" tags on our luggage. I'm not going to lie, it felt pretty darn cool. (don't worry - we didn't win the lottery - the flights for first class seats just were not very much more expensive than the regular seats so we went for it!!)  Next blog post: Costa Rica!

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