Friday, December 5th ~ Antigua to Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Our one week private tour of Guatemala started today. Hugo Suarez (owner and operator of Expeditions Guatemala) picked us up in Antigua promptly at 8:00 this morning. I knew that today would be a long day in the car and that traffic, rock slides and potholes might further delay us reaching our destination.
Along the way, Hugo keeps us entertained with explanations of the Mayan culture, facts about Guatemala, and a history lesson about the four capital cities culminating with today’s capital, Guatemala City.
Our first stop was right along the highway for us to observe where a vein of obsidian can be found, El Chayal. Obsidian is a volcanic glass that is formed when lava cools too quickly for the minerals to properly crystallize. The structure can easily be flaked or shaped into sharp objects and was used to make cutting instruments, weapons, knives and spearheads. Due to it only being found in a few locations, it had value and could be used to trade.
Following a nice lunch where Tim and I split a fresh carrot and onion salad topped with a generous squeeze of fresh lime and a large bowl of spaghetti Bolognese, we continued on to explore our major site for the day, Quirigua.
“The Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua is … comprised of 34 hectares of land dedicated exclusively to the conservation of the ancient architecture and the seventeen monuments that were carved between 426 AD and 810 AD and make up this great city. …The monuments that make up Quirigua include stelae, altars and zoomorphic sculptures (animal-shaped sculpture), carved in sandstone and used to honour the Mayan rulers of Quirigua.” ~ UNESCO.org
Stelae are large pillars made out of sandstone, carved with intricate Mayan symbols. They are used to tell the history and accomplishments of the current ruler. You can click here to learn more about them.
Our final destination was Rio Dulce. Arriving after dark, we could only get a tease of what will await us in the morning. Our hotel is located right on the bank of the river. Here is a night-time shot taken from our balcony.
And the hotel restaurant…
Time to get some sleep – we have a big day ahead of us tomorrow!
Gratitude Moment: Today I am grateful that our guide speaks excellent English and enthusiastically shares his knowledge about his country.