This site contains the archives of my travel blogs from 2010-2016.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Guatemala - Part I

We've just emerged from a week in the jungle of central Quiche, Guatemala.  Situated just 150 miles from Guatemala City, what a typical American would normally project as a 3 to 4-hour drive requires in actuality no less than 8 hours, in 20-year-old vehicles imported from the U.S., winding up and down Guatemala's sometimes-paved mountain roads to reach the town of Chajul.

It was here that we followed the coffee trail from the tree to the mug; we were invited into the homes of families in this indigenous community where we shared a meal and learned to weave; we witnessed the incredible poverty of these families and were touched by their joy and generosity. And we were introduced to four different organizations who are actively addressing the challenges and needs of this community in unique ways.

But since I have only a few minutes until the bus comes to pick us up to fly to the Mayan Ruins at Tikal, I will have to dive into the intensity of our experience in Chajul another day.  I wanted to at least share a few photos today!

We're now in the colonial city of Antigua, in a most deluxe hotel - a far cry from the abject poverty which plagues what seems like 90% of this country.  As we drove into Antigua yesterday evening I was thinking how it's almost unbelievable that we are in the same country as the Chajul we left early that morning.

Yesterday's highlight - zip lining in the canopy outside Antigua.

Quetzales - Guatemalan money. 1 USD = 7.90 Q

The "before" photo....wait til you see what we look like after 9 hours
on this bus!

On the road from Guatemala City to Chajul

A first look at the countryside -- just one of the many climate areas.

Rami and Grant enjoying some fresh air. This team has been
incredible! The way we've all come together and supported each other
through the fun and the sickness (mass food poisoning/stomach bugs)
has been truly amazing!

The stove at the posada wasn't working the first day, so Josephina made our breakfast of scrambled eggs, black beans,
and handmade corn tortillas over an open fire -- just as every family does over the open fire in the middle of their house.

Our faithful bus.  You wouldn't believe some of the terrain we've covered
in this!  Thomas said yesterday about our driver Edwin:
"I've never putso much faith and trust in one person!"

A mountain-top community situated right on the peak that separates the forest region from the jungle.

We saw this kid peddling cotton candy a few times that day...

Kids come out to watch as our bus passes by.

Chel. A remote community in northern Quiche department. ("Department" is the word they use for province.)

A mixture of wood shacks, tin roofs, and the occasional cement or adobe building dot the mountainsides.

The average family in these indigenous communities has 8 kids.

Trekking up the mountain to where we'd pick coffee at Chel. (More coffee stories to come).

Juana and Yolanda - Two girls I met at Chel.

I found this little girl alone, halfway down the mountain side.  She appears to be 2 or 3 years old.


  1. Shirah, your pictures are amazing. I am showing your blog to my friend Alfredo. He is from Guatamala. I'm sure he will be very interested. Good job! Fascinating all the places you are traveling to. Love the zip line picture!!! Looks like a lot of fun! Thanks for sharing! xo


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