Panama Canal Cruise 2013:
Day 10 - Guatemala


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Panama Canal Cruise 2013: [Day 1 - Ft. Lauderdale] [Day 2 - At Sea] [Day 3 - At Sea] [Day 4 - Colombia] [Day 5 - Panama] [Day 6 - Canal] [Day 7 - At Sea] [Day 8 - Costa Rica] [Day 9 - At Sea] [Day 10 - Guatemala] [Day 11 - At Sea] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Mexico] [Day 14 - Mexico] [Day 15 - At Sea] [Day 16 - San Diego]

Sunday, January 27, 2013: We rose early and got a look at the sunrise over Guatemala.

Oooh, what strange land are we in?
Tom got this day's Maersk win.
There isn't much for tourists to see in the Puerto Quetzal area, ...
... but the locals welcomed us warmly.
Nearly everyone joined a tour that day since there was nothing but some tourist shops at the port. We were off for a tour titled "2012 - The Mayan Experience." We all received an area map and a bottle of water.
Our guide, Dario, started out with some information about the Mayan language and showed us a cacao pod from which cocoa is made. We were also accompanied by one of the ship's videographers so portions of our tour ended up on the cruise review DVD.
In the container port area, we passed a huge yard filled with Maersk containers.
We passed these beautiful pink shower trees just outside the port area, but this extremely cropped photo is the only decent shot we got.
Guatemala is a land of many volcanoes, and this one to the far south of us is Pacaya Volcano.
These two volcano peaks to the north of us are Fuego on the left and Acatenango on the right.
This beauty just to the south of us is Volcano de Agua.
Here's a roadside fruit stand.
Fuego is an active volcano, and steam was escaping from its peak all day long.
These hillsides looked like patchwork, with different crops or cattle on each small parcel of land.
We passed the city of Antigua, a popular choice for most of the shore excursions. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is probably worth a day's visit.
This hillside is covered in coffee plants. We also passed lots of castor bean plants which are able to grow to tree size in this climate.
As we got closer to our destination in the western highlands of Guatemala, we passed through a larger town.
We didn't spot a McDonald's anywhere, but we did see a Burger King and several local fast food places.
Here are a pair of tuk tuks awaiting passengers.
Although the land here is flat, we were at a fairly high altitude. We reached 7,000 feet at Iximche, so the temperature was fairly cool even though it was in the 90s back in port.
We had a bathroom and refreshment break at Hacienda Real, a large attraction with lots of stuff to do and see. We returned later in the day for lunch, so we'll show you more then.
We brought Orchy with us, of course.
We purchased a couple of cups of genuine Guatemalan hot chocolate, which was very strong and delicious with a slight coffee-like taste.
Back on our way again, we passed one of the many repainted school buses found in Guatemala, just like in Costa Rica and Panama.
Just before reaching the Iximche archaeological site, we went through the small town of Tecpán. Most of the women of the town wore colorful clothing, including beautifully woven skirts.
Before we entered the site, we visited the small single-room museum.
In front of the model of the original city, Dario explained the layout and what the different buildings meant.
Here are some spooky skulls, ...
... and some replicas of some of the treasures found at the site.
Here's the entrance to the site, but we didn't enter yet, ...
... because Dario need to explain the newest attraction, this monolith added in time for the waves of New Age visitors who descended on the site prior to the alleged end of the Mayan calendar.
This portion of the structure supposedly represents the date of December 21, 2012, the day that the calendar ended.
We got a photo of Orchy on the other side, plus took some photos with our phones to make excellent backdrops.
Here is the first of the many structures we saw.
Here is the second, right across the lawn from the first.
In the distance, we could see volcanos Fuego and Acatenango, looking like one peak from this angle, but with Fuego's column of steam visible.
Dario gave us a New Age demonstration of the energy of the area using a circle made of berries, a little doll, and a crystal on a string. Then he got volunteers to do tricks involving energy attraction. Believers got the show they wanted and scientists understood what was actually happening.
This platform was where human sacrifices were performed. Dario used water to demonstrate how blood would drain from the platform.
There was a fair amount of walking on uneven surfaces but this seemed to take some people by complete surprise, and several in our group had difficulty with the terrain. Tom was a complete gentleman and helped people up and down steps while Debbie was quick with the bandaids and antiseptic when one person took a tumble.
Our guide told us that many New Age believers camped out in this open field on December 21, 2012. What do you suppose they were waiting for, exactly? The end of the world? Mystical forces? A fun night of camping?
Our last visit was to an area where Mayan people were practicing their religion, so we had to be as respectful and quiet as possible.
So this is a photo taken from the other side of the mound where they were practicing.
Here's one last shot of the site.
Our large tour bus was a little out of place on the narrow roads with the other road users.
Debbie was a little too late to catch the word "Vikingo" on the sign of this shop, but believe us, it was there.
This colorful shop is one of several in town that sells the candles and supplies needed for a Mayan religious ceremony.
Here's a shot of a typical street in Tecpán.
This beautiful little girl waved at every single person on our tour bus as her mother walked by. Note the gorgeous outfits both she and her mother are wearing.
We returned to Hacienda Real for lunch and shopping.
A marimba group was playing for the guests.
We had a private room in the large main building. We joined the woman for whom we'd provided first aid earlier. She was afraid to eat the food, so we felt that it was our solemn responsibility to eat everything to show her it was fine.
Each table had bowls of raw vegetables, red salsa, green salsa, and some oil-based thing.
Lunch consisted of chicken breasts, rice, black bean mush topped with a soft cheese spear, garlic bread, a mug of soup, and freshly made tortillas.
We had authentic Guatemalan flan for dessert. Tom's reaction: "This dessert is perfect. It's the most perfect dessert I've ever had."
After lunch, we headed back out past the open kitchen where the meat was being cooked, and did some shopping and walking around.
Pretty flowers!
As we drove away, we passed the horseback riding area and the kiddie car track. This place has it all!
Antigua was much brighter and easier to see on our way back in the afternoon sun.
Here's a colorful Guatemalan cemetery. Toward the end of our tour, our guide gave each of us a tiny souvenir -- we both received tiny wooden parrots in bright colors.
Back at the pier, we ran through the gauntlet of aggressive vendors, then found this tiny outdoor bar just outside of the pier. We invoked the Bundlings Helsinki rule: when given an opportunity to drink local beer in an outdoor bar, take it. We had a Gallo and a Dorada, both Guatemalan beers.
A pair of brightly colored yellow birds kept us entertained.
We noticed that while in port, the Celebrity Century flew the flag of the local country. Nice.
After our long day, our butler had left our pastries and sandwiches for tea and our canapes in little napkin tents. Yum.
Here's our daily shot of the TV map showing where we were in the world.
Sail out was at 6:00 PM after sunset, so this photo was taken while we were still in port. So pretty.

We were pretty tired after our day and didn't want to wait until 8:00 for dinner, so we enjoyed room service instead: a burger and clam chowder bread bowl for Tom, and a club sandwich for Debbie. It was served by our butler, of course.

Day 11 >


Panama Canal Cruise 2013: [Day 1 - Ft. Lauderdale] [Day 2 - At Sea] [Day 3 - At Sea] [Day 4 - Colombia] [Day 5 - Panama] [Day 6 - Canal] [Day 7 - At Sea] [Day 8 - Costa Rica] [Day 9 - At Sea] [Day 10 - Guatemala] [Day 11 - At Sea] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Mexico] [Day 14 - Mexico] [Day 15 - At Sea] [Day 16 - San Diego]

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