Category / Central America

San Pedro – Guatemala January 1, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Migrant Worker


Getting to the lake was exciting to say the least.  I decided to come by way of the chicken bus since I had plenty of time.  The bus left from Antigua every hour, I hopped on, and off I went.  Three hours and three buses later the show came to a halt.  Apparently my Spanish was not good enough to pick up on the fact that the bus assistant was telling the crowd about a landslide that had recently happened.  So, there I was 5 Km from the place I wanted to go and no road to take me there.  While I was preparing my dumb look face I noticed that some of the people were walking in to the woods and were motioning me to come with them.  I thought what the hell I didn’t want to go back to the previous town so I picked up my bags and followed them.  17.5 Kg doesn’t seem like much until you have to go rock climbing with it.  The locals figured that they would just stomp down a new trail towards the town.  Simple enough if the land was somewhat flat but we were going down the face of a mountain.  The hardest part was keeping up with the old ladies.    After a long sweaty climb I made it to the lake and only a short boat ride more before I made it to my intended destination.

San Pedro la Laguna.

View from my hotel/office.









The reason for coming to the lake this time was to learn some Spanish and enjoy the weather.  Since the lake is at 5,000 ft the climate is comfortable all year.  Except for some crazy rains that come through.  During the first week that I was in San Pedro la Laguna the level of the lake rose about 3 feet.  For this to occur more that 1.5 trillion gallons of water must enter the lake. Wow

I managed to complete one week of proper Spanish schooling before opting for an alternative method.  To stretch my wanker dollars I decided to stay with a local Mayan family and get training from one of the family members.  This worked out well for about two weeks then I had had enough corn tortillas to last a lifetime.  After the home stay I went back to a cheap hotel and had the teacher come over everyday for my lessons.  I feel as if I now understand 60% of the language 🙂

















A brief summary of events: in the beginning the Spanish was hard and the poops were not — in the end the poops were hard the the Spanish was not.

At some point I began to look around at volunteer opportunities to stretch my money even farther.  Somehow I ended up making my own volunteer position at a cooperativa near San Pedro working with Africanized bees. This turned out to be very interesting and fun. For one month I worked with a bee inspector in the the mountains and took Spanish classes later in the days.









When I ran out of money I came back to the states. (Thanksgiving day).  After I was back I gave a presentation about my experience to the Marion County Beekeepers Club.

If you are interested in seeing all of the pictures

Copan Ruinas November 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm

These particular ruins are Mayan and are known to have the best stone carvings.  Most of the other ruins around the area have embossed pictures while this one has deeply carved three dimensional figures on all sides of the monoliths.  The figures were carved with stone tools and then brightly painted many times. Apparently the area was abandoned for a few hundred years due in part to lack of resources and disease, the trees that took over have destroyed and also preserved the site.  Their roots have broken apart many of the buildings and helped to keep the elements off of others.









To say the trees are huge does not do them justice.  In the pictures they look large but in person they’re unbelievable.  Most of them have been dated to be three hundred years or more.  Interesting and useless fact is that the Ceiba tree only gets wrinkly after three hundred plus years, before that they are very smooth.  Excavations of the site were started in the late 1800’s and then left open to the elements for another hundred years or so.  As you would expect much of the details were lost due to weathering, but there are still some statues that have been left in place, reasonably untouched and still retain their intricacies.  Another interesting tidbit is that the main stairway to the largest temple building was found in a bad state so the original archaeologist put it back together.  However, the stones didn’t get put back into place in the right order and for a long time afterwards the hieroglyphs were misread and misunderstood. Of course the stones were put together real good with proper cement so now they can’t be moved.  There are signs indicating that fancy preservation techniques are being developed but as of now they are using the tarp technique (as seen in photos).











The site was used for three centuries or so.  During which time it was rebuilt many times on top of the old structures whenever a new king took the thrown.  From what I gather it was good to be royalty or closely related to them, otherwise life was hard.


Quick note about the sporting events, then I’ll leave the rest to Wikipedia.  The game was played with a 2 – 3 kilo solid rubber ball.  The players used knees and hips and shoulders.  Whichever team won, their owner was sacrificed.  His heart was taken out, drained of blood and then burned.  Somewhere during that time to now, the rules seemed to have changed.

















My overall take on the visit to the ruins was that they are awe inspiring and that there is a lot of Americas history that is not taught in schools of North America.  Their civilizations were not that far away from what is today USA.  One more interesting tidbit.  Some of the statues have fully bearded men portrayed on them.  However, the indigenous people that I have come across during my travels in the area don’t have much facial hair at all.

Going under in Honduras at 12:52 pm

2011 – September

The Swiss buddies (Dominik – Philipp) had an idea to go diving off an island of Honduras named Utila which sounded good. So, I jammed some junk in a bag and headed out.  Before leaving I was able to convince a local friend to come along for a new experience (Todd).  Getting into Honduras was easy, however getting to the island was damn expensive.  A three hour cab ride followed by another hour and a half ferry ride ended up costing $145 USD.  Luckily my standby flight got bumped around and Todd and I split the cost for transport.  Once on the island transport to the lodging was accomplished by a few unloved bicycles. Accommodation was arranged previous to our arrival by the always prepared Swiss buds 😉  We rented a beach castle fit for a party of 25 all to ourselves and a personal maintenance man to boot.  Maxin’n Realxin was easy and we were only 50 meters from a coral reef worthy of being named as a dive spot.   










I’ve lived in Florida just about my whole life but the heat in Utila is ridiculous.  The only thing that kept us alive was slightly cold beer called “Salva Vida” and the fact that we were on vacation and didn’t have tight schedules.  The main reason for going to Utila was that the scuba diving is good and cheap.  We arranged some fun dives and concentrated on keeping hydrated (Salva Vida).  The dive shops were slack about nearly everything, they didn’t check my dive card or proper name or ask for payment or maintain their dive gear. Their only preparation was to make sure the captain showed up and that there were sufficient cookies on board.  Beings as I’m a sucker for cookies all went well.

Eight dives later we realized why people come to this lil slice of paradise.  The dive spots are warm, clear and close.  The corals are colorful and plentiful.  We used the same dive shop for all the dives cause we are too lazy change.  Dominik had just bought a new fancy underwater camera and was able to get some great shots.  We did one dive that was called the “dropoff” which turned out to be really nice.  The transition between shallow warm coral filled water to deep dark blue abyss is something that needs to be seen in person.  Hopefully you will get an idea of how beautiful the places were by the pictures and videos that were taken.

























A couple weeks went by and the people that had real life activities to attend to went back and did whatever it is that those people do and I found myself on another chicken bus in a strange place.  Shuttles are available to get tourists around but since I had some time and not much money I decided to wing it and go with the locals.  Seven hours and four buses later I ended up in a small village called Copan Ruinas.  I was headed towards Guatemala and this place was on the way so I thought I’d get some history while traversing the country.