*a note on grammar

I’ve been home for about 6 days now and have just had the chance to re-read some of these posts- and my apologies for the 6th grade writing. I’ve been writing all my posts through my phone so it’s been difficult and a bit time consuming to get my thoughts down via such a small device. Maybe I can also blame iPhones autocorrect? :p

I still have about 2 weeks left of guatemala missing from the blog, will update soon!

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December 2: Livingston

Livingston reminds me of Belize- the palm trees, tropical water, colorful houses… We wake up at 6am for a hike to some natural pools. The walk along the beach for about 20 minutes and pass a family transporting a family of cows on our way.

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The walk is long but we eventual find a small group of garifuna people running the entrance to the pools. For about 15 quetzals- we enter begin (slippery) walk deeper into the forest.

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At last, we find ourselves at a large rock at the end of the pool. our guide climbs up, and jumps off the slippery rock into the cool water. It’s an open invitation. I decide I just wade around the pool- it feels so fresh after a sweaty slippery walk. However, I catch sight of my coordinator- at 40 something man jump off the rock, and I gather some courage to follow. It was worth it 🙂

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Once we return to the hotel, we have a couple hours to enjoy the sun before our trip back to Antigua. I decide to look for some coconut leaves to make another hat.

At 10:30, we head out towards Livingston town. There are more garifunas here. They are the black culture. A garifuna man grabs our attention and gives us a tour around town, but not to the tourist side but the garifuna slums. Half the time, I think we are going to be robbed, the other half is curious. We learn that there is some tension between the garifuna and guatelmatecans – the man also voiced some complaints of Americans buying property on the Main Street for their house but it is only occupied a couple weeks a year and is then a waste of space for the rest. We also learned how to say hello in their language: “ahyo!” People respond to our ahyo with an ahyo back.

At the end of our tour, he tells us he is raising money for a save the starving children organization. He leads us to a restaurant and then waits for us to tip him. It’s a very awkward moment. We tip him but we would never know if the organization was real. But we can only hope I guess.

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We leave Livingston and boat for another 30 min or so at a restaurant off te shore, we are just there for a quick break. Dring that time, a cat plops on my friends lap and enjoys all the attention 🙂

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After that, we drive another 6.5 hours towards Antigua!

December 1: Tikal day 2

At 5:30, we wake to take an early bus to Tikal. It’s about an hour drive and we arrive in time for the park gates to open. It reminds me of Jurassic park.

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Coming to the park early is good because more of the wildlife is out and about – like these cute little guys (from the raccoon family- and not shy at all)

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Our tour guide speaks very clearly in English and talks a lot about the history of Tikal. But before all that- we do some exercise before breakfast!

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Breakfast wakes us up a bit- so our tour guide takes us on a unpaved jungle hike to temple 2.

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We get a lot of exercise climbing up and down. Feels pretty nice after sitting around all week studying!

We make our way to the main plaza- many tourists are here and a few Mayans are performing a ritual. I believe they are also catholic – they thank God for the blessings in their life. It’s interesting seeing what was once a pagan religion changed to a God-fearing one with some of its cultural rituals intact. I’m thankful for this because after doing a missions at a native reserve, some natives voiced their fears that by becoming Christian, they are giving up their culture. In a sense- we all are giving up our paradigms to have Jesus’ but I don’t think it means not acknowledging where you came from either. I still follow some Chinese traditions but I am first a follower of Christ. Anyway- that’s what I came to from seeing this ritual.

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After Tikal, we have lunch outside the the park while others do Ziplinig for 30$. It was a good experience seeing these ruins. It is said that only 20% of tr ruins have been discovered and most of it lie under natural growth that look like large mounds or tiny mountains. Every time I see a large mound in Peten, it makes me wonder…

We now head to Livingston – it’s about 4-5 hours from Tikal and another hour by boat. It takes us 2-2.5 hours though because it gets dark and our boat is overloaded. What an experience tho! A bunch of non citizens traveling a boat silently through the night…

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We finally arrive at Livingston at 8pm. Its a tropical looking place with coconut trees, beaches, and thatched roofs. Our living quarters are a fun bungalows- but less fun with the damp sheets and giant bugs crawling, flying everywhere. Still an interesting experience i wouldn’t trade!

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A full but amazing day!

November 30: Tikal – day 1

At 4am I am waiting at my door for the mini bus to pick me up. It’s advised not to wait outside, no matter how desolate it is on the street.
In the car are 6 other sleepy passengers- we don’t bother knowing each other until breakfast.

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At breakfast, I learn that there is another bus with us- predominantly German girls fresh out of high school, and one American woman. The people in my bus are a bit more mixed – San Francisco, Belgium, Austria, and Spain. We make good company and the American from the other bus joins us- the German girls are a bit standoffish and cliquish… Maybe I was like that too at that age, I don’t remember.

After breakfast, we drive to a banana plantation. Its amazing how many bananas come out of one flower- about a hundred. we also catch a banana train fly by!

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After another 3-4 hours, we arrive in Rio Dolce- a small town with a bustling Main Street with lots of vendors and ppl selling things at car windows.

We arrive in a park outside te city for lunch and take a tour around an old Spanish castle that was built in the 1800s. It’s actually quite beautiful, but it was used with different purposes throughout its time, including a fort, home and prison.

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We have a filling picnic lunch of sandwiches and fresh fruit. Then we head for Flores.

It’s around 6:30 when we arrive in Flores- a quaint town with a lot of tourists. We check into our hotel- my first experience in Guatemala. The bathroom is my favorite 🙂

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For dinner we head to a restaurant by the water. The weather is warmer here than in Antigua so we enjoy a patio view. It’s also happy hour. I get two Cuba libres for 18q’s. it’s enough to put me to sleep- and I did sleep very well!

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November 29: indigenous culture day

It’s Thursday. The after school activity is a short ride outside Antigua to an indigenous artisan and culture center. We are introduced to the Mayan culture of Guatemala and witness how their textiles are made (the fabric given at weddings typically take 6 months to make!), how weddings typically work (with demonstrations!), how to make tortillas, what the typical food is (with samples of course), and how coffee is grounded. Muy interesante!!!

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November 26-28: stomach flu

On Monday I felt queasy and unfortunately came down with a stomach flu- possibly somethig picked up from something I ate or drank on the weekend. But life goes on, I went to class- returned, and slept from 12-7pm.

The teacher and my host family were very kind. My parents responded quickly and just seeing their emails or hear their voice gave me comfort. Host Mama also made me chicken noodle soup, my house brother lent me his pepto bismol, and when that didn’t work, my teacher recommended something stronger called yodocalores. You can buy them by the pill – 1q per one. I took one, drank Gatorade the whole day, and by Wednesday I was almost all better.

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With the sermon in mind, I also spent more time in prayer… Maybe God prepared me for it through the message. I really also wanted to get better by Wednesday so I could confirm with the trip coordinator about going to Tikal- a 3 day intensive travel to the largest Mayan ruins in Guatemala. By Wednesday I was sure my recovery was definite by Friday so praise God for that!

On Wednesday, I also made a trip to the macadamia farm. It’s social justic farm that gives thousands of trees away each year to villages that need sources of income. And they also sell lots of products made from macadamia. We also got a free facial!

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