Wednesday, June 27, 2007

News Flash: Guatemala is Hot in June - Hot But Cool

Yes, I know, cheesy title. But the heat makes me stupid - walking into street signs stupid - and it is HOT here. Crazy hot. Breathing makes me sweat hot.

We are staying in hotel Casona de la Isla on the shores of Lago Peten Itza in the island city of Flores in north-central Guatemala. It is beautiful - a colonial-style village of cobbled streets and brightly colored buildings.

I am sitting on my balcony overlooking the pool (complete with waterfall) and beyond that the indigo sparkling waters of Lago de Atilan. While waiters in their crisp, white shirts serve guests enjoying breakfast on the patio and the gardener carefully prunes an errant overhanging ficus branch. My family is asleep just behind me – in a large, air-conditioned room with 3 beds and a pullout futon – and all of this for US $67/night!

Flores, Guatemala is a lovely and inexpensive city which is mostly used as a center from which to explore Tikal (lagest Mayan ruin site in Central America). We stayed here only two nights but decided to explore the city itself.

On our arrival the kids were hot and tired and the pool was just the antidote. Then as Mike and I enjoyed a couple of Gallos on the restaurant patio, Charlie and Anna played with some local kids at jumping off the dock into the fresh water lake.

We walked down to take some pictures and met Victor, a captain of one of the small wooden boats that are used to tour the lake. We made plans for a morning tour and turned in early.

At 9 the next morning Victor took us on a wonderful tour which included a story about the Mayan history of the lake. Problem was – he spoke only Spanish. I was to be the translator for the rest of my family. In short the history of this place has something to do with Hernando Cortez, 3 Mayan Tribes, a horse, and lemon cream pie (I might have misunderstood that last part).

He was an elegant orator – gesturing languidly with great variety of timber and volume in his voice. Then he would look to me to translate – and I would just make stuff up. I think my children laughed more than he expected. He must think Americans are crazy.

We went to a very cool island zoo where we saw 3 varieties of pigs, very stinky, very dangerous, and very stinky AND dangerous. (Again, all in Spanish). Panthers, ocelots and cougars – the tri-fecta of cool animals and swinging spider monkeys made the trip worth the price of admission (US $19 for all 5 of us).

But the best was the cement waterslide/small child cannon. This thing was unbelievable and I am lucky everyone’s bones are intact. “Es muy rapido,” said Victor nodding and smiling. Screams of terror sound much like screams of enjoyment, so it wasn’t until I got down to the bottom to film my children being launched like cannon balls (a good 15 feet through the air and into the lake) that I saw the truth. Everyone left that experience with a small injury. But as with most dangerous, violent rides, they loved it.

The evening was spent meeting new people from around the world – mostly European – and playing guitar and harmonica with them. It was a blast.

You should come here. But learn the Spanish. And when you do, remember to let me in on what old Hernando did with that lemon cream pie.


Blogger Allan said...

Hi JZ,

If the rest of the blog are going to be as funny and well written as this one then you will have me checking everyday to see if you have updated the page. I still envy you big time. Continue have fun and greetings to Mr. Nolan and the kids!

June 30, 2007 at 3:03 PM  
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