After two very short flights (40 and 30 min) we arrived in Guatemala City last Tuesday. Our time in Nicaragua (5 weeks) definitely marked everyone in the group in different but positive ways with a lot of learning, a lot of beautiful nature, a lot of Gallo Pinto (rice and beans) and a lot of great people that we crossed paths with through our journey.
Now is our time to be immersed in the Heart of the Mayan World, Cak’chequil is its native Maya name, “Cuauhtemallan” as the Nahuatl people called this territory and the Spaniards pronounce it as “Guatemala”, meaning: Land of Abundant Forests.
We started our time here by getting to know some important places in Guatemala City, as we had an afternoon there. We went to Avenida la Reforma, El Palacio Nacional and El Mapa en Relieve to have a glimpse of this country and an introduction to the cultural and natural diversity that this territory has held for thousands of years.
This first day was also met our third instructor Lisa, who is going to be with us for the rest of the trip sharing her experience and life in Guatemala and so much more!
The second day we woke up very early to head to the Heart of the Mayan World, in the Department of Petén in the north of the Country. It was a full travel day moving through 3 different departments (Zacapa, Izabal and Petén) and a big river (Rio Dulce) where we had lunch. After a long day on the road we finally arrived to Petén, where we went to “Comunidad Nuevo Horizonte”, a community founded by ex-guerrilla people who fought the civil war in Guatemala in the Jungle of Petén and other parts of the country. Here we will spend 5 days getting to know the history of the guerrilla movement in Guatemala.
Also, here we are being introduced to Mayan civilization through a visit to important Mayan Cities such as Tikal and Yah’xa. We spent all day Saturday at the first site, Tikal.
Tikal is Mayan citadel, famous around the world and home to the tallest pyramid: the Temple IV of the two-headed serpent, 65 + feet high. This temple is second only to “La Danta”, north of Guatemala in El Mirador (still under excavation). Tikal came to house 60,000 people who lived under the direction of 33 rulers for nearly 800 years. It is one of the few Mayan cities that survived the collapse of the Preclassic period and then flourished in the Classic, a transition that few managed to survive. Carbon investigations reveal the ancient path of Tikal as a settlement emerging up to 600 years before Christ. Its existence was consolidated in the Maya Preclassic period, reaching it’s height of power later.
Today we will keep getting to know the history of Comunidad Nuevo Horizonte and their struggle to survive through a walk in the surrounding forest, where they share with visitors what life in the jungle is like and how they have endured using plants, trees and wild animals as shelter, medicine and food. Tomorrow we will explore Yax’ha City, an incredible, mysterious and magical Mayan Temple within the jungle of Petén.
This is just the start of our journey through the Mayan Land, a lot more to come, to explore and live. We will keep you posted!