Hotel Atitlan

In any of our previous visits to the lake, we had never stayed at Hotel Atitlan. Given that we didn’t have plans to take a boat anywhere else on the lake, and that we would be staying one night, we decided to reserve our rooms.

They have a great pool and beautiful grounds which give plenty of areas to keep DiploTot running around. As well there are macaws, parrots and a pen with rabbits – an especially big hit.

IMG_4900

IMG_4910

IMG_4915

IMG_4918

IMG_4920

IMG_4937-2

IMG_4939

IMG_4957

IMG_4963

IMG_4922

IMG_4923

IMG_4927

IMG_4928

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.

IMG_3916

IMG_3929

IMG_3936

IMG_3939

IMG_3948

IMG_3954

IMG_3957

IMG_3965

IMG_3963

IMG_3969

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.

IMG_3765

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.

IMG_3769

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.

IMG_3781

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.

IMG_3788

IMG_3793

IMG_3796

IMG_3799

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.

IMG_3817

IMG_3835

IMG_3820

IMG_3857

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

IMG_3849

He loves the camera too.

IMG_3860

IMG_3800

IMG_3805

IMG_3823

IMG_3831

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.

IMG_3837

IMG_3841

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!

IMG_3872

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.

IMG_3879

 

Church of San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the oldest churches in Antigua, dating from 1579. When we visited recently, I was under the impression that there were only ruins from the old monastery to be seen, but as we arrived, there was a huge procession entering the church and many bombas (fireworks that just make load booms) going off.

IMG_3723

IMG_3726

The float being carried into the church is for Hermano Pedro de Betancourt, a Franciscan from the Canary Islands (1626-1667) who is credited with miraculous healing powers. He was made Central America’s first saint by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

His tomb is in the church and there is a museum with a hall of miracles which contains a myriad of crutches, braces and walking sticks from pilgrims, as well as many plaques giving thanks for his services.

IMG_3732

IMG_3731

The ruins were quite vast as well. There was much more to be seen than I initially thought, so it was a pleasant surprise.

IMG_3736

IMG_3740

IMG_3744

IMG_3748

Manuel Antonio

After three nights in La Fortuna, the next stop was down to the the Pacific, near Manuel Antonio National Park. Upon entering the park, and declining another request for a tour guide, we made our way down a path/road for about 20 minutes to arrive at the beach areas.

It was a very cloudy day, which was just fine with us, since we weren’t too concerned about getting sunburned and it was quite pleasant to be outside. We found a spot under a tree and laid down our towels, aware of the need to be on guard, as the monkeys and racoons are quite adept at pilfering food and other items from the beach goers.

DiploTot was quite relaxed and wasn’t all that interested in ever leaving our laps and towels, which frankly made for an even more relaxing time. We figured she would be in constant motion, but she was content to watch everyone else and listen to the waves.

IMG_3659

IMG_3660

IMG_3663

IMG_3666

IMG_3669

IMG_3673

On our second visit to the beach, we went to a public area instead of Manuel Antonio, which saved us $20 and the waves were much bigger as we were not located in a lagoon/inlet. I recommend this approach if the beach is really your thing. It is worth going to the national park, but at this beach we were able to just park our car and be in the beach in a few minutes.

This is what the locals do. At the national park we were one of hundreds of tourists. At the beach outside of the park, we were the rare tourists, just hanging out with all the Ticos.