Antigua Walls & Doors

Having captured a good number of photos of the various ruins, churches and other sites in Antigua, I realized I hadn’t captured any photos of the rest of the city, which features an incredible array of colors, textures and doors.

City blocks are fairly uniform in the fact that walls are right up to the sidewalk and street, with the interiors hidden away behind doors and windows. I absolutely love walking around the city and I am so pleased that its proximity makes for an easy afternoon getaway.

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Habitat For Humanity Build

A group from our church headed out this past Saturday to help at two different Habitat For Humanity build sites in the Antigua area. One in San Mateo Milpas Altas and the other in Jocotenango. Guatemala is number two worldwide in the number of completed projects, at over 50,000. It was great to finally take some time to serve and I hope to get to help on more projects before our time is finished here.

We loaded up at the church in a school bus. 🙂

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The youth from the church ended up working the site in San Mateo and the rest of us went to the site in Jocotenango. We did lots of digging and moving of dirt and helped with the rebar construction, what they call “ribs” here in Guatemala.

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Now that we’ve seen this site in the earliest stages, we are hoping to be able to return to help at a later date as the construction progresses as everyone agreed that they want to see the final project. The weather cooperated and the rain held off, so it was a great day.

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Vice Presidential Visit

The Vice President was in Guatemala on Friday and as a part of his visit, there was a meet and greet at the residence that afternoon. Things pretty much ran on time and we didn’t end up having to wait too long before he arrived.

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He hung around for a bit afterwards and we were divided up into groups for photos, which I’ll hopefully have soon. We were glad we took advantage of the opportunity.

Simple Pleasures

There are a couple Walmart stores that aren’t too far from our house, but we don’t find ourselves typically heading to them all that frequently, as we get most of what we need at the nearby Paiz grocery store and PriceSmart. This past Saturday we decided to head over to the Walmart that we hadn’t visited before in search of a small stool with a back that we could use in the kitchen for DiploTot.

We were not successful in our quest to find a suitable stool, but in continuing our wandering through the store, we did come across some food items that we hadn’t found before – Triscuits, Wheat Thins and Planter’s Honey Roasted Peanuts. Despite the fact that we can get a lot of familiar products from home, the selection still pales in comparison.

It was something so simple, yet it made the entire trip completely worth it, especially because DiploMom can now cook up one of my favorite dishes, peanut crusted chicken.

Impact

One of the things I have found myself paranoid about at times is getting into a wreck/accident when I am out and about without DiploMom, given that my Spanish is not at all up to par for an event such as that. Never mind the fact that the likelihood of the person having insurance or otherwise being able to pay for the repairs is probably pretty close to nil.

This past Monday we received a good bit of rain from a tropical depression that was working its way up the coast towards Mexico. Things had cleared up a bit by the time the afternoon arrived, so DiploTot and I headed over to the weekly music class for little ones that an Embassy mom has at her apartment. We were headed back home at about 4:30 and with the wet streets and drizzle, the traffic was backing up on the street at the exit a bit more than usual. I figured there was no way I would be able to turn left, but someone finally stopped to let me enter.

At this point I double checked to my right again and slowly inched out onto the street. As I was in the street and just about to turn left, I see a motorcycle about to run into me. Motorcycles in the city constantly drive between lanes and cut around on the left and right. It is a wonder I haven’t seen more bodies laid out on the street.

So here he comes – boom – into the driver door. He couldn’t have been moving that fast, so I was amazed that he was unable to stop. I dreaded getting out of the car to see if there was damage and then how in the world I would deal with it if there was. I got out into the drizzle and looked at the door and thankfully, nothing! I can’t think of the last time I have been so relieved.

I picked up that the driver was saying something about his brakes. I imagine that he had problems braking with the wet roads. Ironically enough, another driver on a motorcycle stopped and spoke pretty good English and asked me if everything was okay. I told him we were good since there wasn’t any damage. The guy that ran into me seemed fine, as he had just lost his balance to one side after impact and didn’t fall of of his bike completely.

I got back in the car to head home very grateful that the impact hadn’t been greater and appreciative that driving around has gone so well up to this point.

 

Copán Ruins

We took advantage of the past Memorial Day weekend to head over the border to Honduras to visit the Mayan ruins at Copán. With having Monday off, we decided to leave on Saturday morning, which worked out much better than rushing out on Friday afternoon trying to beat traffic, especially since the drive is about 4.5 to 5 hours without major traffic delays.

This is the longest drive we had tackled so far and we were excited to able to travel with some wonderful friends and their adorable one-year-old. It was a good feeling to know others were along in case either of us had any car problems. The ruins and town are just over the border, so once we crossed, we were there in no time.

Crossing the border was a relatively quick and painless process. There wasn’t a whole lot of guidance on what we were supposed to do, so we actually stopped at the Honduran building first to show our passports, only to be sent back to the Guatemalan building since we had no exit stamp. We got that squared away, got our Honduran entry stamp and then we were on our way. I think having the diplomatic plates also helps speed things along. No one actually checked our passports at the gate to enter Honduras, they just waved us on through.

We found a great little 2 bedroom, one bath place to stay, that thankfully had air conditioning in the town of Copán Ruinas. It is a quiet little town that essentially exists because of the tourism to visit the ruins. Here is the Parque Central.

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The settlement at Copán marked the southern fringes of the Mayan world. Construction of the city is believed to have started around 100 AD. The ruins here aren’t as vast as those at Tikal, but they are still a relatively large settlement with a good amount to see.

We were greeted at the entrance by a wonderful assortment of squawking and flapping Macaws that live in the area.

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Copán is well known for the stelae carvings and there were several of these displayed as we entered the Great Plaza, a large grassy expanse that was a public gathering place.

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This temple features the famed Hieroglyphic Stairway, which is constructed of 72 stone steps, with every block carved to represent a part of the sequence, totaling around 2,200 glyph blocks.

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It was pretty warm during our visit, but that seemed to barely slow DiploTot down. She had a blast and kept up with all of us the entire time. We were amazed that she didn’t crash any sooner.

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Here are our awesome travel companions. Does this little guy travel in style, or what?

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He loves the camera too.

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It costs $15 per person to see the ruins, for another $15 per person, one can have access to the tunnels that have been dug by archaeologists. That sounded kinda cool, but in reality, I didn’t feel like it was worth that extra amount. I envisioned something much more elaborate than what it turned out to be.

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It was a great trip and definitely worth the drive from Guatemala City. DiploTot was still going strong even once we got back to the car and did not fall asleep as we headed over to a Clarion hotel to have lunch and then use their pool for a bit. The power of the in-car DVD player!

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Finally once we got back to our rooms, the siren call of sleep finally caught up to DiploTot. She hasn’t fallen asleep in one of our laps since she was probably a few months old.

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