Theme: Central American Adventure Tour Country: Guatemala Languages: Spanish Unit of Currency: Guatemalan quetzal Locations: Guatemala City, Flores, Monterrico, San Miguel, & Tikal Year: 2013 Bucket list: Visiting Hawaii Parque (a center for marine life)
Video: Venturing to Monterrico
DO: EXPERIENCE THE GUATEMALAN NIGHTLIFE
- Chilling with one of my favourite Canadians, Cailan; Random story: We met in Belize on Caye Caulker and later planned my visit to Guatemala City
- Attending a house party/ birthday party for Sasha and greeted by a dozen of expats
- Club hopping downtown – Highlights: dancing on the bar and brushing up my Spanish
DO: RIDE A TUK TUK TO EXPLORE THE VILLAGE
- Riding in a tuk tuk and visiting 8 different villages along the way
- Partaking in happy hour at 3 different pubs – Kept finding a better deal at each one!
- Becoming Flore’s best beer pong champion of several hostels
- Being introduced to giant jenga with character actions
DO: GRAB A CHICKEN BUS FROM GUATEMALA CITY TO VISIT MONTERRICO
- Venturing around in a chicken bus, 2 mini shuttles, and a taxi cab to get into Monterrico from Guatemala City
DO: HANG OUT AT JOHNNY’S PLACE
- Stepping on a black volcanic beach (my very first time) at Johnny’s Place
- Drinking smoothies (chocolate & banana preferred) and eating some delicious local food
DO: VISIT PARQUE HAWAII
- Visiting Parque Hawaii to hang out with the marine life for a few days, and volunteering with ARCAS
- Cleaning up a sea turtle burial grounds due to the hurricane season
DO: HIKE THE TIKAL RUINS AT SUNRISE
- Trekking 30 minutes to Sunrise Temple to get a glimpse at the sunrise before it actually rises over the Guatemalan jungle
- Listening to black jaguars in the distance communicating with each other through the treetops
- Hanging out with 2 Cali girls for the day – participating in the signature jumpin’ photographs sessions
- Witnessing howler monkeys karate fighting each other on the dirt
- Exploring the ruins
Top 3 Experiences in Guatemala:
1) Trekking Tikal – Guatemala’s famous ruins beautifully placed in the jungle, with the faint, but violent sounds of black jaguars echoing behind us prior to sunrise (this put several Tikal enthusiasts into a frenzy) . A unique, but unforgettable experience to hike up dozens of steps at 0500 in the morning in order to witness a sunrise at the iconic name of Sunrise Temple -> here breath-taking views and silent prayers were seen and heard for miles.
As the tour guide enthusiastically explained to my group the history of each temple, we could hear the inspiration in his voice stating his love and devotion for these magnificent ruins.
I have been very fortunate to create friendships during my travels, and my time in Tikal did not disappoint.
2) Experiencing chicken buses for the first time – Few of you can recall when I posted a picture of a retro pimped out bus (Gives Exhibit’s “Pimp My Ride” a run for his money), here I was crammed in from head to toe (not to mention I found myself sporting most of my luggage on my lap). While others simply remember the stories of locals coming onto the bus at every stop selling everything and anything.
When you start and stop consistently in every nook and cranny imaginable in Guatemala’s evasive lands, one tends to get hungry. As a kid I have loved garden cucumbers, especially fresh from my pap Hixson’s garden – during one of my transits to Montericco, I decided to buy some. Little did I know, that they strategically place 3 full-sized cut cucumbers into a medium-sized plastic bag. Needless to say I did not finish the bag, and come to think of it, I have not eaten a cucumber since!
3) Being part of a team – Never in a million years would I have ever thought that I would had the opportunity to help restore a sea turtle burial grounds. I should specify that the original burial grounds were covered in tree limbs, weeds, and smaller rocks from hurricanes passing through over the years. The process itself was very unique, and one for the bucket list – during this time I had the privilege to meet the ARCAS volunteers and share a similar interest in marine conservation. Like other motivated individuals that I have had the pleasure to work with, I really enjoyed my time at Park (Spanish “parque”) Hawaii and was delighted to help the park prepare for the season’s inauguration of Leatherback and Olive Ridley sea turtles.
A Very Special Thanks to ARCAS:
Chino, Amanda, Bridgette, & Joanna on letting me be part of the habitat restoration program in Parque Hawaii for the past few days! It was a great deal of hard work, but all of this will pay off in the end! Not to mention that the sea turtles are going to love their new hatchery! It was also great to meet Juan, an aspiring Herpetologist here in Guatemala!
A shoutout to Eleo, appreciate the Monterrico tour via scooter!
Photographs of Parque Hawaii and my conservation efforts there will be posted once I arrive in El Salvador, of course, after a boat ride and 2 chicken buses later!