I don’t know about you, but I’m really missing travel. I’m also starting to go stir crazy. I suppose 7 months of Covid, and nonstop daily analysis in the news will do that to a person.
Christmas is rapidly approaching and all we can think about is being isolated from friends, family, and travel.
Sure we can travel, but then we have to self isolate for 14 days after we return home. 14 days in isolation, I already feel isolated, I don’t think so.
So with that in mind, I’m going to share one of my favourite trips from a few years back. Maybe if I write about travelling, it will take the sting away from not being able to do it! Let’s get started.
A few years back I stayed up late on black Friday looking for a destination for Christmas that year. I settled on Guatemala. Our family is scattered so everyone flew into Houston for the next flight into Guatemala.
We arrived late in Guatemala. I think it was after midnight. We gathered our baggage and headed out the doors. We were greeted by a lot of people offering us a ride into Antigua. Our trip included transportation, so we just had to find our driver amongst the masses.
It was a pretty quiet drive from the Airport in Antigua, a Unesco World Heritage Site. The streets aren’t paved like North America, so it was bumpy. It kept us awake. We also noticed that the buildings had large wooden doors and windows that were all shuttered. From the street, it seemed very dark and ominous.
When we arrived at our destination I wondered how we were going to get in. The door was shut, everything was dark? A window opened and we were asked if we had a reservation, we did and the big door opened wide.
We entered into a dark hallway. We couldn’t really see much but we were escorted to 2 rooms. Everything was in a courtyard and behind large brick walls.
The next day when we woke, we discovered a lovely courtyard outside of our room. It contained an Orange tree and all sorts of wonderful looking vegetation. The boys got the penthouse and had an amazing view of the volcanos in the distance.
Over the next week, we fell in love with Guatemala. One of the poorest countries on the planet, yet the people were so happy and friendly. Knowing this in advance, we picked up some Christmas gifts for the local children.
That day we were shopping at the local market in Antigua. They have some wonderful products, all hand made. Beautiful blankets, table cloths, authentic wooden toys, textiles and the list goes on and on. All hand made by these wonderful friendly people.
The Vendor we were speaking with had her young children with her. We ended up giving some crayons and colouring books to her children. She was so happy that she started to cry. This one small gesture had made her day. It made our day as well!
Being in a foreign country meant that we had to do something memorable for Christmas day though. I had booked an excursion to a local coffee plantation. They picked us up in downtown Antigua in an Army truck. I was getting those looks from the family.
Who wants to look at coffee beans on Christmas day, who would remember that. Zipping through the valley looking at the coffee plants, now that was something we would all remember!
Antigua was our base city. Next up was a day trip to Lake Atitlan, about 2.5 hours from Antigua. We rented kayaks and had another adventure with a local travel company.
The owner was an American from Texas who had moved to Guatemala and had settled, I knew why. He hires local guides for his business which was wonderful.
We spent a few hours on Lake Atitlan taking in the breathtaking views. We also stopped for a while to jump off the rocks and cool off. After kayaking we had some lunch at a local village, and had a nice long hike back to our hosts.
We were used to hiking in BC so it wasn’t too bad, it was challenging though. We passed some small villages along the way, the local children would come out and greet us with smiles and happy faces. Locals, men and women would walk by, carrying very heavy loads. I was lucky, I only had a small backpack to carry.
Well, we might as well continue with another adventure. The next day we were picked up for an early morning flight to Flores, Guatemala. Another Unesco World Heritage site was next up on the agenda. I had planned a trip to Tikal, Guatemala.
In the heart of the jungle, surrounded by lush vegetation, lies one of the major sites of Mayan civilization, inhabited from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D. When you arrive the first thing you hear is the monkeys howling. Welcome to Tikal.
Tikal is located in the northern Guatemala, an hour’s flight from Antigua. It comprises 57,600 hectares of wetlands, savannah, tropical broadleaf and palm forests with thousands of architectural and artistic remains of the Mayan civilization.
Five cats, including Jaguar and Puma, several species of monkeys and anteaters, and more than 300 species of birds are among the notable wildlife. The forests comprise more than 200 tree species and over 2000 higher plants have been recorded across the diverse habitats.
If you think old Castles in Europe are amazing, check out the Mayan ruins in Guatemala. You think about how old these buildings are, they are still standing. And, I bet they didn’t leak back in the day. How’s that for construction. Vancouver builders take note.
I’m looking forward to the day when we can start thinking about adventures again. Those that involve flying to exotic destinations without worrying about contracting an invisible virus. Let’s hope that is sooner than later. Safe travels everyone.
About the Author:
Regan Pyke is a world traveller ✈️ , who sometimes takes a break to help clients buy and sell Real Estate. These days you will find him wearing a mask 😷, wondering where that next trip will be.