For your reading enjoyment -
Decided to give the grandson a glimpse of Guatemala during his spring break.
Friday, Day 1 - Flew Dulles to Charlotte to Guatemala City - USAir is the pits!. Immediate connection via Taca to Flores - very clean planes and friendly attendants. Overnight at Maya Internacional Hotel in Flores; though simple very clean and friendly staff.
Saturday, Day 2 - Full day tour to Tikal; grandson climbed each and every stairway in all of the pyramids. Saw the howler monkeys. Upon return to the hotel were invited to join a wedding in progress with DJ and marimba band. Encountered a huge rainstorm that interrupted the wedding several times.
Sunday, Day 3 - Early morning TACA flight to Guatemala City; again very curteous and professional staff. Had arranged for a private transfer to Lake Atitlan via Chichicastenango, where we toured the market and church, and enjoyed lunch at Hotel Santo Tomas. Overnight at Hotel Atitlan.
Monday, Day 4 - Boat trip across the lake to Santiago Atitlan where we toured the village and let one of the locals take us to "Maximom". Afternoon at the pool at Hoel Atitlan.
Tuesday, Day 5 - A friend picked us up and gave us a full boat tour around the lake; lunch at his home.
Wednesday, Day 6 - Took the "shuttle to Antigua. 14 people jammed in a mini-bus. Long drive due to holiday traffic. Overnight in Hotel Casa Noble - a B&B that was clean and comfortable but had seen better times. Rest of afternoon for shopping at the Mercado de Artesanias.
Maudy Thursday, Day 7 - Elizabeth Bell tour of Antigua; great overview. Lunch at Casa Santo Domingo with friends. Viewing of processions during rest of afternoon. Grandson was invited to join hotel staff in making an "alfombra"; a carpet for the next day's processions.
Good Friday, Day 8 - Early morning tour with Elizabeth Bell to view alfombras. Viewing of the morning processions. Grandson decides he wants to participate in afternoon procession; we go to Escuela de Cristo church and obtain a "turno", then go get him a "cucurucho" outfit - the tunic worn by the carriers. His is turn # 10 for 1 block but ends up carrying for 3 as no one relieved him. Viewing of the other Good Friday processions.
Saturday, Day 9 - Our transfer doesn't show so after a few calls we have a private car at the door to take us to the Guatemala City airport. Another USAir flight to Charlotte and then Dulles - worse plane than on our trip coming down. Won't fly them again!
Prices in all of Guatemala are certainly high; particularly during Semana Santa. All of the indians we encountered have learned the appropriate words in English to lure the tourists. Unfortunate that the culture is slowly disappearing. Recommend going while there is still a difference and before the region fills with more McDonalds and other chains. An interesting sight was locals at an Internet cafe in Santiago Atitlan playing video games. Also seeing the vendors in Chichicastenango with their cell phones.
All in all, a great adventure for a 13 year old; he'll have many memories from this.
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