We made some friends off the internet (surprise, surprise) who offered up their place for us to crash in Guatemala City while we got some 4runner repairs done (by another friend from the internet!). We pushed into Guat City with no real idea where we were going. Guatemala City is a crazy town, traffic is horrible, the streets are a maze, and the signage slim. After driving around in circles for a while, making a few payphone calls, and being lost for about 2 hours we finally found our way to our friend Julio’s place. Probably the nicest home we have seen so far in Central America.
We spent 4 weeks in San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala taking spanish school. It was a great learning experience and we really enjoyed slowing down our pace and getting to know one location intimately. However, after a month in one spot our brains were burned out on spanish and we were ready to move on.
Carly spent the rest of the week hanging out with us and touring around San Pedro. One thing she wanted to do while in Guatemala was to visit some Mayan ruins. In a country where over 50% of the population is indigenous Mayan it would be sacrilege to not visit one of their ancient sites.
We got to googling and did tons of research searching for nearby ruins to check out but came up bupkis. During our search however, we did find the Iximché ruins just outside the town of Tecpan. I knew we passed Tecpan on the way to the airport in Guatemala City. We figured we could head out the night before Carly left, drive to Tecpan, wake up early, tour the ruins, and get Carly on a plane around noon. Sounds like a plan to me!
During our spanish class we told our teachers about our plans to drive to Tecpan that night.
“Oh, you picked a very special night to go to Iximche.”
“Tonight is the Mayan new year!, of course”
… Of course? Our teachers explained about the Mayan Haab calendar, the long count-calendar, Tzoltin, equinoxes etc etc. The Mayans expounded upon 5th century BC knowledge of time and came up with a system to track/predict important events long before they ever heard of a Roman/Julian/Gregorian calendar. It is actually a series of several different calendars combined into one all-encompassing date keeping system.Pretty cool and complicated stuff.
Our alarm started ringing at 4:30AM… I felt my body panic in confusion. WORK!?
Nope. Just hiking a volcano today… whew.. that was close. I realized it was the first time I have woken up to an alarm in almost 5 months (Not that I am trying to rub it in or anything…)
I stumble around in the pitch-black cabin fumbling for the light-switch. I find it and listen to the groans from the sisters. “5 more minutes?” Lauren asks. Nope! Not today, We gots to go.
Our destination for the day. The top of Volcan San Pedro on Lago Atitlan. It is the large volcano on the right-side of this pic. You can see the town of San Pedro down below it.
San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala is an interesting and beautiful place. The town sits on the volcano ringed Lago Atitlan (Lake Atitlan) at the base of the (now dormant) San Pedro volcano. It is populated bythe indeginous Tz’utuhil Mayan people who still work the land growing mainly onions and coffee beans for export.