Guatemala!

I am constantly amazed by the accomplishments of my business school friends.  Take my friend Tony, for example, who spent the two years before business school as a member of the Peace Corps in Guatemala.  Wow.  Lucky for us, he decided over Fall break in October that it was time to visit – and invited some friends to join him.  It was one of the most active trips I’ve ever taken and it felt like we got to see  and do everything: volcano climbing, waterfall hiking, horse riding,  tortilla making, cave spelunking, river rafting, waterpool jumping, Mayan ruin exploring, plane chartering, and home cooking.  Wow.
MUCHAS GRACIAS to Tony and the 3 Graces for an incredible trip and amazing hospitality!
Below is most of the pre-trip itinerary that Tony wrote for us, italics are mine.
October 16 – everyone arrives and will take shuttles from the airport to Antigua. We will be staying in a big and beautiful house right outside of the city and I will be shuttling people from the drop-off point out to the house.    We can do the sunset hike of Volcan Pacaya. This is a beautiful, active volcano that you can hike up and roast marshmallows over flowing lava. A very unique, albeit terrifying, experience.
View from Pacaya Volcano

View from Pacaya Volcano

Everyone hiked up the Volcano...and I rode a horse

Everyone hiked up the Volcano…and I rode a horse

Volcano s'mores! Photo Credit: Ira Panova

Volcano s’mores! Photo Credit: Ira Panova

Roasting marshmallows on the Volcano!

Roasting marshmallows on the Volcano!

October 17 – we will be leaving early and heading to the rustic, beautiful village of Chilasco. This is where I lived for 2+ years while I was living down there. During the day we will be hiking to El Salto de Chilasco, Central America’s tallest waterfall. This was the main attraction of the community tourism project I was working on down there. It is a beautiful 6 km hike through sub-tropical jungle/cloud forrest. After the hike we have more cool stuff planned. As it turns out, a good friend of mine is graduating from middle school that day (he is 42 with a passion for learning and he went back to school after only getting to 5th grade as a child). We will be having a celebration with his family and my friends from the village, I have sent money for them to purchase food and we will help them prepare it. Anyone that wants will have the opportunity to learn to tortillar (make tortillas). We will sleep in the village. More fun will be had.
We thought it was going to be a light hike...

We thought it was going to be a light hike…

...but we were wrong...

…but we were wrong…

...we were so very wrong!

…we were so very wrong!

School made from recycled garbage

School made from recycled garbage

Learning to make tortillas

Learning to make tortillas

October 18 – we will make the “scarily adventurous” trip up and over the mountain to Semuc Champey. For those who read the NYT article, this is the place they called “as close to Eden as you can get on earth. No electricity, no cell service, hopefully water, plenty of beauty. This is my favorite place on the planet. Here you will have the option to go spelunking by candle light, swing into the raging Cahabon river on huge rope swings, jump off tall bridges, climb mountains swim in gorgeous freshwater pools, and just soak up some nature. Get excited about this. Probability of fun: highly likely.

Pretending to be scared before the hike...little did we know!

Pretending to be scared before the hike…little did we know!

Before the candle went out...

Before the candle went out…

Swing!

Swing!

The pools at Semuc Champey

The pools at Semuc Champey

The entire group!

The entire group!

October 19 – we will be getting up early again to leave, because we have a little bit of a drive ahead of us. The plan is to head up to Tikal, an enormous Mayan Ruin site in the middle of the jungle. This place is unreal. For those of you that are nerds (Braxton, I’m talking to you) in Starwars IV: A New Hope, the filming of Yavin 4 (one of the three habitable moons orbiting Yavin where the Alliance made their base while trying to restore the republic and eventually launched an attack on the Death Star from) was done at Tikal.

Ruins

Ruins

Nothing like a little sacrifice!

Nothing like a little sacrifice!

October 20 – Lunch in Flores, really awesome town close by.  Then, CBS chartered plane back to Antigua!
Flores

Flores

Our chartered flight - fancy!

Our chartered flight – fancy!

October 21 – Day exploring Antigua, including the Jade Factory and shopping at  Tony’s friend Siggy’s amazing store  Casa de los Gigantes which sells handicrafts from Guatemala artisans – I wanted to buy everything!.  That night we have some activities planned. First we will be having what I call “The Feast”. This is one of my best and favorite ideas ever andI will explain more on Thursday, but for now I need everyone to submit an idea for a unique dish that they can prepare.
Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala

Beautiful Antigua

Beautiful Antigua

Jade Mask

Jade Mask

Chicken bus!

Chicken bus!

Preparing for the feast

Preparing for the feast

Feasting

Feasting

Our menu and guide for the feast!

Our menu and guide for the feast!

October 22 – everyone leaves and sleeps for about a week straight.

Text Credit: Tony Brindisi; Photo Credit: Ira Panova, Tony Brindisi, me
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3 Comments

Filed under Central America, Guatemala

3 responses to “Guatemala!

  1. Anonymous

    Loved the writing and the photos! And we enjoyed every minute spent with all of you!!

  2. Pat

    Nice article, I loved all the photos too. I just got back from Guatemala and wrote an article about the Integral Heart Foundation who are doing wonderful work there. It’s really a magical place!

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