Category Archives: Guatemala

In Search of: Empanadas in Flores, Guatemala

While in Flores, Guatemala, I had the chance to cross an item off the bucket list.  Neil, the owner of Chaltunha — the cabanas I stayed at — took my friend and I down to pick up some seriously yummy, authentic street food.  The bucket list item was more specific than simply eating street food (I’ve done that plenty of times).  Rather, the plan was to eat fresh empanadas from a street vendor.  And let me tell you — my love of Latin American street food has not waned.  While waiting for the food, we practiced our limited Spanish skills with the family (the vendor was definitely a family affair, especially since they operated right outside their house), and they let us take pictures while they cooked.  I love these shots for their simplicity — no flashes or extra lights or any special editing — and for the brilliant memory they stir up.

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Journal Excerpt (July 20, 2012):

Time moves incredibly slow down here.  It is so easy to forget what day it is, and I pretty much never know what time it is.  I know when it’s light, and I know when it’s dark.  And when my stomach growls, I figure I should get some food.  The other day, one of the shuttle guys was talking to a girl in my shuttle.  He said something like, “So you probably want to do the Tikal tour on Friday.”  She looked at him kind of blank while he kept talking, and I immediately knew what she was thinking.  She had to interrupt him and said, “I’m sorry.  But what day is today?”  I feel the same way.

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In Search of: Editing Like a Madwoman and Flores, Guatemala

Lately, it would seem I spend all my free time editing pictures.  I keep telling myself if I just edit a few more, just a few more, I’ll get them ALL done before new year’s.  Granted “just a few more” is something like 500 photos.  I am so lucky!  (Can you sense the sarcasm?)

I’m in a super big hurry for a couple reasons.  (Well, one might not refer to this as a super big hurry, seeing as how I’m STILL editing pictures I took last summer in Central America.  But I digress.)  First, I want to wrap up all this editing before the end of the year.  I like to close the year out nice and smooth.  Who likes left over projects from the previous year lurking around (especially when said projects were supposed to be done months ago)?  But mostly — and this is seriously important stuff — I need them for the end of year video!  Oh, yes, I’ve got big plans for my 2012 wrap-up video.  There will be dancing and singing and confetti and jungles and rivers and mountains, oh my!  And did I mention the dancing?  Dancing in the streets, I tell you.  Not to mention the fact that I’ve been searching for the perfect song to accompany said awesomesauce.  And I think I’ve got it.  I’m so freaking excited!

But none of that can happen without the pictures being ready!

And so I plug away.  20 pictures here.  20 pictures there.  Some day, I swear, these computer induced headaches will pay off.  I’m seriously loving some of the photos I’ve been working on lately.  I’m in the midst of editing photos from Livingston, Guatemala.  Such good memories.  So many beautiful moments.  Sunrises and sunsets and Caribbean storms and river canoeing and ocean-fresh fish and hammocks and all around loveliness.  It’s also ridiculously exciting that I can actually see improvements in my photography from the start of the trip to the end.  I LOVE that.

I have a fantastic group of shots from Flores, Guatemala I look forward to sharing with you.  Right now, though, I want to share some of the photos taken in Flores by my friend, Terrell (of Photo Anthems).  Sometimes it’s awesome to have another photographer along for the ride, you know?  Because of Terrell, I’m actually in a lot of my travel pictures.  It’s been fun to see them!  So enjoy this peek at Flores, and I’ll be sure to post a slew of my own Flores photos very soon.

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In Search of: Photos of Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Sometimes I’m the laziest blogger ever.  It’s true.  I’ve thrown myself into work, travel and all kinds of fun things that have pulled me away from blogging.  This isn’t to say I don’t have awesome things to share with you.  I’ve got a ton — seven more cities from Central America, hiking up Mt. Whitney, a long weekend at Havasu Falls and, after this weekend, another long weekend in Zion National Park.  Mountains and oceans and waterfalls, oh my!  In the mean time, enjoy these pictures from one of the most beautiful places in Guatemala — Semuc Champey.

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In Search of: Lazy Days by the River at Semuc Champey

Remember this post?  In which I prayed I wouldn’t die in a car crash on my way to Semuc Champey?  Or this post — in which I tell the tale of rocks slides and candlelit caves?  Well.  After all that, I pretty much felt I should sit and appreciate the fact of living.  If there’s one thing taking a road trip in a developing country will do for you, it’s that.  You simply appreciate waking up in the morning.

As my journal will account, after spending time at Semuc, I did just that:

July 17, 2012

I don’t have much to report today.  I made no plans other than to wake up.  I’ve been sitting on the balcony overlooking the river the past few hours staring at the water moving by.  I’ve also watched a group of half naked women wash their clothes in the river.  Apparently this is an all day endeavor.  I heard them hitting the clothes against the rocks when I got up at 6am, and they were still out there doing laundry at 1pm.  With the intensity of their smacking clothes against river rocks, I’d say these ladies were either bitter that they had to be out there doing the wash at all or, at the least, they were getting one hell of an upper body workout.  I also got to be a spectator as a few people bathed in the water.  And here I was complaining about cold water showers — they don’t even have showers!  Which, by the way, I think I’d kill for a hot shower right about now.  I head out of Semuc Champey tomorrow, and I will be happy to get some warm water running over me.  Granted, it probably won’t be hot, as that doesn’t exactly seem possible in Guatemala.  I’ve nearly run out of hope for a steamy shower.  Though I figure it’s always good when you leave your own home to visit some place entirely new, only to realize how fortunate you are.  I mean, I have hot water in my shower every day, all day, and I have a washing machine!  Thank goodness.

In my long bouts of sitting this morning, I managed to finish one of the books I’ve been reading (a book about a woman doctor that moved to Saudi Arabia to practice medicine).  Her writing made me want to scream a little (how many adjectives could one have in a single sentence?), but the story itself was actually very interesting.  Now I’ve moved on to Wild by Cheryl Strayed, a book about her somewhat impromptu, solo hike up the Pacific Crest Trail.  Thus far, Wild is an amazing read.  I highly recommend it!

Other than that, I’m calling this one a lazy day.  Travel has a way of sucking the energy right out of you, and this is one of those days in which I have none.  Sometimes you have to sit and soak it all in.  Today, I soak.

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In Search of: Semuc Champey, a Candlelit Cave and a River

After a hair-raising ride into the jungles of Semuc Champey, one might think I would settle in for some relaxation before hitting the trails and doing anything too heart pounding.  But then, that would be reasonable.  And when I start a trip, I often find myself being anything but reasonable.  I wanted to start the adventure!  And so I did.

(Oh, there will be some beautiful pictures from this part of the trip — as soon as I finish going through them and editing.  For now, I hope you enjoy the stories!)

July 16, 2012

I spent today swimming in Semuc Champey, crawling through an underwater cave and tubing down a river.  It was a CRAZY day.  I jammed two of my fingers, one on each hand, sliding down a rock slide.  I took a tour so that I could see all the sites around here today, and I must say — if they did this in the states, there would be so many lawsuits.  But that’s probably part of the fun (personal injury laws be damned!).

We hiked about two miles up to see the Semuc Champey overlook, which is absolutely stunning.  Semuc Champey is full of calm turquoise rock pools that somehow formed over a crazy big river.  We swam in the pools, and the guide took us down the different pool tiers.  For a few of them, we had to slide down the rocks to get to the next pool, and some of the slides were insane — not smooth at all.  I had no idea what I’d gotten myself into.  Other tiers, we just jumped right off the waterfall into the pool below.  I tried out some actual swimming strokes thinking this would probably be a good time to see if I remember any of them.  Holy crap.  I forgot how hard it is to actually swim laps!

In one area of the pools, the guide had us swim under the rocks into an underwater cave.  I was like, okay — I’ll try it.  I thought it would really be a CAVE.  I didn’t realize that the “cave” had only enough room to hold my head up for air.  I swam under the rocks, and the guide covered my head with his hand so I wouldn’t come up fast and hit my head on the rocks, but I didn’t realize he was going to do that, and I sort of freaked out.  Haha.  I was flailing like a water-logged cat.  Then we got to this section in the underwater cave and he’s all — can you see the light?  Go under and keep swimming until you get to the light.  All I could think was that going toward the light is not usually a good thing!

When we finished the pools, after lunch, we did a tour of a water cave.  It was insane.  We went into the cave armed with only a candle each.  It was pitch black and full of freezing cold water.  Several times, we had to swim, one handed, holding the candle in the air so as not to get it wet and lose our light.  Do you know how hard it is to doggy paddle with one hand?  Haha!  I also walked through a crazy waterfall in the cave that nearly froze me to death.  Then we got to a point where we had to slip through a small hole in the cave.  The only problem was the hole had water rushing into it, and I couldn’t see at all what I was falling into.  The guide put my hands and feet where they were supposed to be, and in broken English said — let go, but when you get there, go to the left — go to the left!  I had no idea what I was “letting go” into and couldn’t ask because he barely spoke English (and my Spanish is a bit appalling).  So I let go.  Before I knew it I was dropping under water into pitch black darkness, again flailing like a drowning cat.  I was afraid to come up because I didn’t want to hit my head on the ceiling of the cave, so I went to the left and reached above the water and there was rock — no place to come up.  I freaked out a bit, then swam to the right and realized I could come up on the right.  Obviously he got his directions crossed.  I told myself that if I made it out of there alive, I would stop putting myself in these ridiculous situations!  Somehow or another I did make it out.  Now I’m wondering if I should have made that deal.

The last part of the day was relaxing (if not a bit freezing).  Each of us grabbed an inner tube and traipsed down to the river.  We put the tube in the water and were off for some breathtaking views.  It was stunning.  Really and truly.  So stunning I nearly forgot that my butt was frozen from cold river water.  But as soon as I had to hop fully into the water at the exit, I clearly remembered the cold.  Well, that and the rain drops falling on my head were a good reminder.

Even though it was crazy, it was still a fantastic day, doing things I never quite imagined I would be doing.  Life is unpredictable sometimes — and really, really amazing.

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