Finally Back Home…

 

Well, we made it, through all the joy and fun and sights we saw there, we are exhausted. We came back at 2:00 in the morning. It was very interesting to be gone for so long, and probably a good experience too, seeing other parts of the world. I learned a lot, because we learned about what was around us.  We saw the volcanoes of Guatemala, the coral of Honduras, the waves of Nicaragua, the quetzal of Costa Rica, the canal of panama, and the mountains of Ecuador. It was remarkable, but it is really just nice to get back home, partially because of the good internet (the internet sucks in central and South America) and also because of my friends.

I love the fact that you can really help people with pleasure while still having enough time to relax and take it easy. I will try to do it again because it is something everybody should experience. While I’m at it I can say it was very fun to write these posts and I am thinking of continuing.

 

Diagram of a Giant Tortoise 

The giant tortoise is truly an amazing creature, he is so big! He is so slow and can live for a very long time. Did you know the record for the slowest tortoise heartbeat is 1 heartbeat an hour? It likely came across the ocean to Galapagos by floating! This massive creature actually floats on water! (Diagram by me)

 

Quito Cathedral (aka Basílica del Voto Nacional)

The Cathedral in Quito is very large, and very unique. It has huge doors, and the outside is lined with gargoyles. It is covered in stained glass everywhere and there is a great big tower to climb up to. It is a bit scary but is definitely a great view at the top.

There are all sorts of little nooks and crannies. There are tunnels and catacombs with shops selling items and souveniers. It is a large Cathedral that has been beautifully designed and is also very smartly made if you look closely. For example. The drainage goes down from the walls using chutes and then on to the square whose tiles divert it into the drain.

The Cathedral of Quito, Ecuador is full of surprises and things to see and it is a great destination to visit in your spare time. It is not good to get stuck in the rain because otherwise any kids will start complaining horribly.

There are all sorts of gargoyles such as crocodiles, monkeys, sloths, and armadillos. They looked very Stengel because sometimes they were out of proportion or really fat.

 

Quito

Quito was great. It is big, has good weather, and has no mosquitoes. It is rainy though, because it is rainy season and this year there has been more rain than usual. I will tell you a few things to see in Quito.

1. The Cathedral: The Cathedral has many gargoyles sticking out from the walls such as crocodiles, monkeys, sloths, and many more. It is also fun to climb up and see the city from a different perspective.

2. Old Town: Old Town is a bit colonial and the architecture is amazing. It has many good restaurants and you would. It be disappointed by it.

 

Monte Verde Cloud Forest

It’s been a while since I have written a blog post and we are currently in Costa Rica in a cloud forest. I would like to tell you a few things about this type of environment.

First of all, the climate is not at all tropical. It is cold and wet, with constant rain. The forest is very lush due to this but also very buggy. I saw many different animals. I saw some different plants. It was very amazing. I noticed it had many insects that would crawl all over me.

I kept getting bitten and it really drove me nuts, but at least got to see the wonders of the cloud forest. I had a great time in the hotel that was surrounded by nature. I went on a guided hike and got to see the quetzal, as well as over 20species avocado, 200 type of ferns, and much more. I enjoyed it a lot, but my favorite part was going on a night hike. I saw many types of ants as well as some cool plants. I also saw a frog. It was very fun.
 Here are a few of the ferns we saw. Did you know that there can be up to 2 tons of plant material on 1 tree? It was a very new fact that I would never have guessed.

 This is not an acorn. You will never find out so I will tell you now. It is an avocado (whuuuuuut?), and there are more species of avocado trees in Monte Verde National Park than types of plants in all of the U.S!

 This bird is a quetzal. It has some of the longest feathers in proportion to its body. It is a very endangered bird, only semi-common in the Monte Verde Cloud Forest. It eats mainly avocados.

This plant has ripe berries that are black. Since animals generally do not like this color in their food, the plant makes the stems orange, which often animals like for food.

 This snake may look poisonous at first glance, but it will laugh at you once you fall for it. It is a cat eyed snake, a mimic of a much more dangerous variety.

See the little frog? He is a green tree frog, a frog that, sadly is disappearing from even Monte Verde.

 

Roatan!

We took a ride to the enchanting island of Roatan (although the ferry boat was not so great) and saw the wonders of the island. It was a bit too touristy, but it was still very peaceful. Snorkeling was great, and I remember “sterilizing” my mosquito bites in the salty water. It helped, but it hurt really badly. Back to the snorkeling, I saw many cool fish such as black angelfish and neon blue dotted ones, but the best thing I saw was the moray eel. It was a dull green and I only saw it for 2 seconds before it got scared and hid away (drat), and then I got distracted by a bunch of fish circling my feet. It was truly something.

I also went paddle boarding, which was easy on the water because there were NO waves and the water was shallow. I went over to the neighboring resort too see their dolphins аnd I saw them jump, play and eat. It was a sight to behold, but it was also very sad to see them trapped in captivity.

I liked Roatan a lot, but I think it was almost TOO comfortable because it was such a peaceful area, not adventurous like the eco lodge we stayed at.

 

7 Things I Have Learnt About Surviving in Guatemala

 

1. Listen to the names the driver of a chicken bus is calling out:

Guate: Guatemala City

Everything else is close to the actual city/town you go to.

2. You will probably get sick around the third week you get here, be prepared. Do not eat food that you drop on the floor.

3. Do not touch the animals before confirming they are vaccinated, they can have rabies.

4. Do not eat the street food, or you will get stomach problems for a week.

5. Do not play soccer next to a team, or you will see them snickering the whole time.

6. Understand Spanish. It will prove very useful.

7. Make sure you do not let your kids roun on dirt hills covered in trash.
I hope you enjoyed my post, and I will post again soon!

 

5 Tiny Details You Probably Haven’t Noticed in Guatemala 

1. Lots of street ads: There are literally hundreds of ads on a block. Most of them are recurring and/or boring for tourists. They can be fron anything like cereal bags to soccer sets.

2. 8-digit telephone numbers: They look something like this: 5442-1297. They are different from the normal numbers, so do NOT try to speed dial.

3. Avienda and Calle signs: Unlike the States, there are such things as Avienda (goes north-south) and Calle (runs east-west). They are also numbered, in order for each city.

4. Disgusting Purple flowers that taste like plastic: Do not drink this when made into tea. It will tell you that if you really want it to. Expert tip: Only drink if you know that you have a parasite in your stomach. Actually, don’t drink it at all.

5. Weird Lights made out of plastic Bottles: Sometomes if you go into cities like Alotenango or other developing cities, you will see piles of bottles they will likely use for everyday applications. Need to protect a smoke alarm? Use a plastic bottle. Need to prop a table up? Use a plastic bottle. Need to go to a baño? Fine, I won’t go there.

 

How to Find A Good Hotel in Guatemala City

(when you are so are sick with a parasite while traveling….and the only thing you have to read is a guide book…)

First of all, you want to go to Zona 9, 10, or 13. They are the safest, and usually pretty nice. Usually they have high prices, however, so for a budget option you may want to see Zona 1 for options. The budget options will have shared bathrooms and small rooms. They are still good enough so you may consider them if you want to see more of Guatemala. Air B&B is also a good choice if you want to see inside the Guatemalan homes, as long as you find a nice home.

Budget Options

If you want to save money then you should go to Zona 1 for hotels. It is not the safest but there are a couple of hotels near the police station which you may consider. The hotels will be usually less than USD15 a night so they are definitely affordable. They will usually have a colonial feel to them, so they may be your top priority.

Mid-Class Options

These hotels are found around Zonas 13-15 and usually have private bathrooms and breakfast. They can also have drinking water and if near the airport they can have included bus pickup from the airport. They might make you feel comfortable,  but not too comfortable so they can be a great choice.

Luxury Options

These crazy hotels can be found clustered in Zonas 9 and 10. If you are planning an all-inclusive, super laid back, sit back all day vacation, I’m sorry, but that would be the complete opposite of living in Guatemala. It might make you too comfortable. Don’t think you can’t though, because they can be very nice there.

AirB&B Options

Well, these can be anywhere. Grab a computer and book a house! Use your bargaining skills to get a good price, and make sure you know what the house looks like.

 

Where We Went Over the Past 3 Weeks

First, we went to Lago De Atilan and stayed at a hotel called Casa Del Mundo (house of the world) and saw the towns nearby. It was a lot of fun, because our guide was funny and we got to see how chocolate was made. I saw different fish there, and I saw their relaxed way of living.

We then went to Tikal where we got to enjoy the themples towering above us in a 4:00 sunrise tour.

It was a different experience to see them lit by the sun, and we also got to see agoutis and anteaters. It was very fun to learn about the lost Mayan culture by actually going in front of the temples yourself. 

After the tour, we went to Semuc Champey, an area with many pools of water flowing into each other constantly.

We got to not only swim, but go on natural water slides, jump from a cliff into the water, and explore an air pocket cave. It was definitely something else.

We went to a dozen other places and eventually ended up next to Rio Dulce. That is where I am now, and I will write again soon!