Lago de Atitlan
As you may have guessed, there are a few tourists here.
This Blog will chronicle the experiences I have in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the site of the next chapter of my sometimes bizarre, but usually interesting life. I will be teaching grade three at The American School Foundation of Chiapas. My term at the school begins on August 1st, 2006.
Alas, for kids all the stunning archictecture and scenery still pales in comparison to the allure of a hand-held videogame.
Spending Christmas in Tikal was magical. The dizzying heights of the pyramids, the misty weather and the constant din of howler monkeys, parrots and a myriad of other animals created an atmosphere that was almost overwhelming. Fear of heights combined with some of the steepest ladder/stairs I have ever seen occasionally completed the overwhelming feeling, however I climbed every ruin that we were allowed to climb anyway. And I loved every minute of my time there (7 hours). Tikal is stunning as ruins. As a functioning city, it must have been on a level with Cairo and Rome. I always find myself wishing I could go back in time. Just to see ruins is not enough for me. The photo on the right is a view of the Gran Plaza.
Looking out of a temple window or door.
Bajar - Translated directly it means "down", "descending" or "go down down here", translated more accurately it means - "IF YOU MAKE ONE FALSE MOVE WHEN YOU GO DOWN THESE SHEER, SLIPPERY, NEARLY VERTICAL STAIRS, YOU WILL PLUMMET RAPIDLY TO YOUR DEATH EVEN THOUGH YOUR FALL WILL BE BE MOMENTARILY SLOWED BY YOUR VARIOUS EXTREMITIES IMPACTING THE WALLS OF THIS PYRAMID ON THE WAY DOWN! Have a pleasant day." (My Spanish is improving.)
Later when returning to Flores, I saw this man walking around with a sign that says "HUGS FREE". I figured he, of all people, would not mind my taking his picture. Of course, he smiled from ear to ear, posed for the picture and then gave me a hug.
The Island of Flores seen from the lookout. It is a very tranquil place.
A sunset and beer on the patio.
The guys in the Guatemalan immigration office were having two very serious air conditioners installed. The very expensive kind. This is strange because there was a huge space open between the walls and the roof. Any attempt at air conditioning would have as much effect on the temperature outside as it would inside.
Having left Mexico from a tiny town in the Lacondan territory, traveled down the river on a thin launch and entered Guatemala in another tiny town with more dogs than houses, I commented to one of my traveling companions that it seemed an odd way to enter a country. He remarked that it felt as if we entered through the back door. Indeed we did.
Guatemala is my 47th country (more of a fact than an observation).
This is what wikipedia says about the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe:
Our Lady of Guadalupe or the Virgin of Guadalupe is a Marian apparition and a 16th century Roman Catholic icon. Guadalupe is also Mexico's most popular religious image. Guadalupe's feast day is celebrated on December 12th-- a day which commemorates her appearance on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City from in 1531. Her popularity and cultural significance are multifaceted: while Catholics honor her as the manifestation of the Virgin Mary in the Americas, she is also an important symbol of Mexican nationalism. Guadalupe is also frequently interpreted as a syncretic manifestation of the indigenous goddess Tonantzin. Finally, some theologians see the Guadalupan event as signifying a special relationship between the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the Catholic Church.
Today I saw several Mexican flags with the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe substituted for the eagle and the snake, so I can confirm the nationalist symbolism.
Most of the processions had people walking or running with torches (including all the way to San Cristobal) and many of them had people holding palm branches and flowers. There were also two purified water truck parades. Yes, I am serious - PURIFIED WATER TRUCK PARADES! Really, do you think I could makes this stuff up?