Last weekend the group took the long drive north to Tikal and Semuc Champey. It was incredible! Semuc Champey was beautiful. We spent the Friday night in a small town near the park. We left at 3am on Friday morning and arrived around 10am to our hotel. We put our bathing suits on and crammed all 18 of us in the back of a rickety old pickup truck and drove to the park. Some consider Semuc Champey to be the prettiest place in all of Guatemala, and I would have a hard time arguing against that. It consists of these beautiful waterfalls and pools of green water that you can swim in. The pools are in the valley between huge green mountains. Here is a picture of the pools looking down from a lookout point on one of the mountains we climbed up:
Here is a picture of the mountains around the pools from the same lookout point. It was stunning!
Here is Stephanie floating in one of the pools.
The next day we drove most of the day until we came to a zip line in the jungle. I don´t really know where it was, but it was awesome, and it helped break up the drive to Tikal which was far away. We flew through the canopies of the jungle for about an hour. There were about 12 different platforms to zip line to. I didn´t see much wildlife, just some pretty birds with really long tails. The best part about the zip line was doing The Monkey. The Monkey is going on the zip line upside down. It looked really scary at first, but then we all did it and loved it. Here is a picture of Steph doing the Monkey. She loved doing it and did it every single time.
Here is a picture of our group walking up the ladder to get to the first platform of the zip line:
The next day we woke up at 4:30am to get to Tikal by 6am. Tikal was amazing! After taking my Mayan art class last Fall semester, this place was so interesting to go to. Tikal is huge! There are ruins everywhere, and many mounds in the park that haven´t even been uncovered yet. We climbed two of the largest temples which took us above the canopy of the forest where we could see for miles. We could also hear howler monkeys in the forest all around us for most of the morning. We saw a few Spider Monkeys, Tucans, and we even ran into a giant family of Coatis (these are kind of like raccoon/lemur looking things). Here is a picture of me with Temple 1 (this was the king´s temple - I´m standing on Temple 2, the one he dedicated to his wife):
Here is a picture of Stephanie on Temple 4 overlooking Temples 1 and 2 and the forest around us. They use this shot in Return of the Jedi, except it has a fighter jet flying through it and is supposed to be the planet Endor. Seriously.
We had a great weekend!
We wish we could post more pictures of us in the communities we work in and with the people we work with, but it is not very culturally appropriate here to take pictures. Just know we´re having a great time and are hard at work every day trying to contribute what we can to the developing world. To end, here are some pictures I took outside our van, just so you get a feel for what Guatemala is like. The last one is of me and Steph when we hiked the volcano Pacaya one of the first days I was here.