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.



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.



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 🙂




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.





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 🙂





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.

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)


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!





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






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.




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…



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!




A full but amazing day!