Sunday, April 06, 2014

Quirigua Stelae

Meet Hector.
The most hardworking, efficient bus driver I have ever met.
He was right there to give the old ladies a helping hand off the bus, 
always had fresh cold water for you getting on or off the bus,
kept the windows spotless so you could take clear photos, 
and drove the bus through areas I wouldn't want to take a small car. 
All done cheerfully and competently.
Virginia, our guide, told us that people in Guatemala have a great work ethic.
She and Hector were shining examples of that in word and deed.

This is the beastly bus that Hector maintained for all 42 members of our tour.
Under a big ole mango tree.
Did I mention we got all sorts of delicious fresh fruit on this trip?

Our first stop was at Quirigua.
Which is a Mayan archeological courtyard or meeting place with huge "stelae".
Stelae are massive stone monoliths inscribed with ancient writings 
recording Mayan history, rulers achievements and rites.
Once again, I was impressed by the complicated, 
and beautiful intricacies of the artwork carved in stone.

There were 11 of them varying in height from about 9 feet to 35 feet.
It's amazing to me was that these stones were taken from a quarry over 3 miles away,
They had no large domesticated animals, so getting the stones there was all from human effort. 
This city was a port of call on the river (which is now quite far away because of earthquakes)
 between two different areas and was quite affluent and held a lot of power.
You can see here the size of stelae compared to regular folk 
that some were dang tall.
(that's Chuck in the blue and white striped shirt third male from left)
The little huts over them are to protect them from deterioration because they are made of sandstone.

 These are zoomorfos - which I think basically means they are stylized animals.
They had all sorts of stories incorporated in the body. 

There were two of them. One with a ruler coming out the backside (bum).

Not exactly sure how coming out the backside of a crocodile is powerful
 - but who knows exactly what that was all about.

  This was the shortest stelae - and for some reason didn't rate a little hut.
(Actually, I think they were working on it
- but it makes a better story saying it's prejudice because he's short.)

The whole Quirigua area is about 84 acres and this was the most open part.
It is kind of hard to take it all in size-wise.
So, check out the tree in the middle.

 Same tree with me at the base.
From Quirigua we got back on the bus and traveled to Pentechel
where we would go to see Tikal the next day.

I took a LOT of photos from the bus.
And some of them even turned out - kinda.

Part of the area we went thru is pretty much desert and they raise cattle there.
The only kind that can survive the heat are Burma- so we saw a lot of those.
Plus- there were also a lot of random people walking out in the middle of nowhere.

Lots of clothes hanging to dry. 
(Just like at my house :0)

And guards everywhere.
Virginia said that after all the political unrest there were a lot of people
 without jobs who were used to military lifestyle/training . 
So, many businesses put them to work guarding. 
And most successful businesses have them now.
By late afternoon we finally arrived at Pentechel and the nature preserve where we would spend the next two nights.

Looks like a good place for a swim 

-except for the crocodiles. 
(do you see him?). 

We had amazing food the entire time.
Lots of fresh fruit and veggies with rice, beans and seasoned meats
This place was no exception.

Pentechel is like something you would see on a movie set.
It was incredibly lush, lovely and relaxing.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Retirement/Spring Break Trip

It would seem that I have a bit of an addiction.
And photo taking whilst on a trip 
is right up there on the top of the list 
(probably located right next to my obsession with Pinterest)
I thought- 
" Today I'll just go quickly thru photos
to choose a "few" to post about our trip to Guatemala.
TWO HOURS later...
 I FINALLY made it to the end of them - 
and I didn't spend massive amounts of time gawking at them either.
You have been warned and with that said...
Here are a "few" images of our trip.

First up
Guatemala City
We arrived after traveling all night at the Barcelo, a swanky hotel.

This carpet was in the main entryway. 
It was cordoned off because it is made out of colored sawdust. 
It's a tradition to make these every year for Easter.
No colored eggs for them!

Here is the view from the fifth floor,
and the plethora of grooming amenities available to keep yourself looking spiffy.
Shined shoes are a big deal in Guatemala- hence the brushing machine.

We saw more armed guards on this trip than I have seen in my entire life.
This particular contingent was there because 
the Queen of Spain happened to be staying at the hotel.

And here she is - well the backside of her anyway.
She was shopping at hotel's jewelry store.
I had to take the photo all sneaky like.
Note the guard at the doorway. There was security everywhere.

And this is Virginia.
The best tour director of all time.
No kidding. She was AMAZING! 
Much more impressive than the queen of Spain.
She was able to talk for hours at a time, 
in depth about pretty much every aspect of historical, political, 
social, familial, agricultural and economic condition of the country of Guatemala.
 And the incredible thing was she kept it entertaining.

We started out at a museum with Mayan artifacts at the university called 
Popol Vuh which is the name of one of the few (as in like 5) remaining "books" 
left of the Mayan history after the priests burned them for heresy.
It gives a great background of the people and their history.

Virginia explained all about the significance of different animals - 
jaguars, turtles, crocodiles, monkey, birds - in the Mayan culture.

I was impressed by the quality and detail of the figures and the designs which told stories.

This is a burial urn. It is about 3 1/2 feet tall.
They would put the dead in a fetal position and put them inside.
Pretty cheery eh? 

After the artifact museum we went to a textile museum.
We couldn't take photos because it would damage the cloth.

I did however, take a photo of one of the watercolor paintings on display.
(Yeah, I'm a rebel like that- there was no flash involved).
There must have been about 50 painting by this same artist, Carmen Petersen.
She was originally from England but moved to Guatemala as a child.
When she was in her late 70's she realized that the way the indigenous people were dressing was going to become lost. So, she spent the next 20plus years of her life making lovely watercolor paintings of people in traditional clothing - for weddings, funerals, religious and political occasions. It was an impressive body of work.

And Hey!
Did you know that the Eiffel Tower is NOT in France?

Well, at least the "replica" from a world's fair is not in France 
it is located in downtown Guatemala City.

Oh yeah.

After changing some dollars into "quetzales" 
(7.5 of these = $1.00)
we were ready to leave the city and explore some ruins, temples and natural wonders...

But I'm afraid that will have to wait for another day.

(I know the anticipation is a killer!)


Guatemala City

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Catch up...

"I'm gonna post more often" she said.
Best laid plans and all that...
I have been posting a daily thankful post on Instagram
 and perhaps I should just take some images from there
and add to the blog.
I'm sure there are a LOT of exciting things I could tell you about...
view on the way home today.
IF I could recall them. 
As it is, about the only thing I can bring to mind 
memories jogged by the photos I take - 
many of which are most likely boring to anyone but me.
spring runoff
  Like this photo...
Chuck is days away from official retirement.
 At the recent military ball in Boise
 he was given this plaque and massive sword for his 38 years of military service.
It was held at the Grove in Boise. 
As we left the ball in our "finery" a hockey game was just getting out.
We didn't exactly blend in - 
but we also didn't have to worry about getting mugged either.

Last week I took students to a state technical student competition held in Nampa.
It was a great group of kids and actually a lot of fun.
 My favorite part of the competition was the problem solving skills competition.
Imagine 120 kids in teams of two given:
newspaper, 3 sheets of tan tag board, two small dowels, a roll of masking tape and 5 poker chips.
the dowels can not be part of the structure - only used for construction purposes.
They are to construct something that will hurl the chips.
The team who gets their chips the farthest distance wins.

 It was really fun to see the different team approaches, the intensity, 
and concentration for the 1 1/2 hours they worked before judging.

During downtime on Friday I took two girls to the capitol.
They got to see protestors in action.

 Posed in front of statues... 
(reminded me of a trip to Italy in 1978).
They LOVED the capitol.
 And kept themselves entertained.
Cool lights at the capitol.

There was a watercolor show on display on the top floor. 
This one is of Redfish...
Is it just me? or is this the beach and log where Randy and fam went for years?

We had a great time and students even won events and get to go to Nationals in DC.

Other random bits and pieces...

 I don't like daylight savings time...


it did allow me to get home in time to take some evening shots with lovely light,

and of spring on it's way.

School is in full production mode... paste paper time.

My early Easter dress.

 Note the hand splint- which I no longer need to wear in the day!

A random series of breakfast eggs in the shape of fish.
(exciting I know.)

One of the series of things I have craved over the last month and did not resist.
(let's not talk about comfort eating shall we?)
Birthday bag for Brianne.

Meet Frida.
As in Frida Khalo.
Because of the eyebrows.
NO, Not our dog.
I just thought she was cute and aptly named.

that's enough of that.