This year I had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala for a week and on a comprehensive 16 day trip to Belize, what a treat!
Every time I visit Guatemala I’m amazed by the richness of its culture. Just imagine over 21 different indigenous Mayan populations fused with Spanish and European populations. One of my favorite things is to stroll around all the different villages near the Atitlan Lake where ancient Mayan dialect is still the primary language, which is uncommon to see in larger cities throughout Central American these days. It's a chance to really learn about their way of life: weaving the most intricate huipiles, teaching their natural dyeing techniques, etc. The Mayan influence is very strong everywhere you look, I think no other country has more international identity than Guatemala. To top it all our guide was able to spot a jaguar in the jungles of Tikal, by the Meson Restaurant when we were all enjoying lunch. We run to see it walk back into the jungle, it was the perfect way to close our day after we had explored the Mayan Ruins with the re-known archeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli.
Belize is another country with a very rich diversity of culture, none of which however is dominating. Here you'll find a blend of Maya, Garifuna, Mestizo, German decent Mennonites, and even Chinese and Lebanese. My trip was full of surprises: cooking with the Mayan women at San Antonio, dancing with the rhythm of the Garifuna drums at Pelican Beach Resort on South Water Caye with the hotel staff, how fun! Eating with them every night was such a treat. I was also impressed by the local marine life just in front of the hotel and the cays close by. From sharks to turtles, to the most magical and mysterious ocean creatures one can imagine. You end up in awe after every outing with so much admiration for the wonders one encounters! Hatchet Caye was a nice surprise with so much marine life to explore off the dock, let alone the night snorkeling outings to swim with the rays, scary but worth doing. My very favorite day on this past trip was the spelunking adventure into Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave. I must admit that the guide who lead us, Patrick, was a true story teller. He is one of the first and few guides to have a permit to take people into the cave. All the suspense he puts into his narrative, all the rich knowledge he shares, including the history of the Mayan civilization, it all builds up to the grand finale when one sees the crystal maiden skeleton inside the cave. It is a truely fascinating and a MUST DO adventure when traveling to Belize.
I came back from both Gautemala and Belize wishing to go back… hopefully soon!
Happy Holidays and blessings from Costa Rica!
Keeping it wild,