DÍA 7: VIERNES
VIERNES: Our last meal in the Wach Lal House. June 10, 2016 is the day of Kej, which is also my nawal! I had such a wonderful week at this house, I loved that it was open air with plants everywhere. I loved brushing my teeth in the outdoor sink, with sun shining down. I definitely regret never sitting in the hammock though :(
From Xela, it was about 3 hours to Antigua. We were given the option to drive straight there or make a pit stop at the ruins of Iximche in the town of Tecpán, which would make our journey 5 hours. We took a vote and I am oh so glad that we stopped.
It was here that I finally learned that the X sound in Mayan language is pronounced as SH. Iximché means the 'city of maize', I think. Rumor has it, the Spanish conquistadors founded their first capital here. The Spanish moved their capital 4 times, BTW. Our tour guide, Alex, was so wonderful. He speaks K'iche, Spanish, and English. He gave a great informative tour and told a lot of jokes.
La Ciudad de Iximche was the capital of the Post-Classic Kaqchikel kingdom. So there were four plazas within these ruins and essentially, there were 4 ruling clans within the Kaqchikel. The plazas had temples, ball courts, courtrooms, and other palace structures. We learned about the Sun and Moon temples, and their short, small steps. Alex joked that it was because Mayans had small feel like his, but in actuality, it was because they never turned their face or back to the Sun or the Moon, therefore they walked up the steps sideways. Plaza B was dedicated to the wind and the temple had 20 points and 20 steps. The numbers 13 and 20 are very significant in Mayan culture. There are 13 months in their calendar, with each month having 20 days. We have 13 joints in our bodies, with 20 fingers and toes. 13 x 20 = 260 days of which is the approximate length of a human gestational period and also the time it takes to grow corn from planting to harvest. Mayan life totally revolves around the concept of time. So many unique and interesting number concepts. I appreciate how much the Mayans respect the Earth, Sun, and Moon.
Alex said that this was a special day for a tour because there were people conducting their own Mayan rituals on the property. It's not a regular thing but I'm glad I was there to witness it! The ruins are not as tall as other ancient cities, simply based on the elevation. Other interesting facts: the Mayans believed the Quetzal, (the gorgeous national bird with a tail longer than it's body) was actually a feathered serpent. It was highly sacred to the Mayans and the Aztecs; the royals and priests wore its feathers during cermonies. These ruins are not as tall as others, like Tikal and it is because of it's location/elevation in the highlands.
I couldn'y resist buying nawal jewelry outside of the site. As we left Tecpán, I noticed the headquarters of the Federación Nacional de Ciclismo de Guatemala! We passed it so quickly, I couldn't snap a pic, but throughout the week, I always got some pumped when I would see someone kitted up and mashing up those montañas.
TEAM SUMMER 2016
The drive from Iximche to Antigua Guatemala was about 1.5 hours. I had no idea what to expect out of Antigua. I have never been to Europe but I imagine this is what Spain looks like. It was such a contrast to go from Mayan Ruins to one of the capitals of Spanish colonization, within hours. Throughout my Spring 2016 semester, the cons of colonization was a major theme. (Spanish, British, Dutch, etc) I continued to feel some type of way as I was immersed in Mayan culture.
We checked into our hotel, Posada San Sebastian. Such a cool, kitschy hotel that was full of Catholic-Guatemalan antiques. We stayed on the 2nd floor and found that we had rooftop access ! Loved catching a view of other rooftop vibes, which makes me really want a rooftop garden. I definitely would love to spend more time in Antigua and possibly hike Pacaya, an active volcano. I continue to be mesmerized by all of Guatemala's natural beauty.
We walked around to the markets, where I realized that I hate haggling. It actually gives me a lot of anxiety to have a person up in my face, trying to sell me things. I was working with limited quetzales, but ended up buying some awesome gifts. It was probably for the best because I have been known to go souvenir crazy. Janett mentioned that she had never seen this many tourists in Antigua. It began pouring rain as we trekked back home. I saw a VW Westfalia with an Argentina license plate and a super attractive hombre! I was bummed to see that he put his hazards on to eat at Wendy's! We hit the local grocery store and this is where I stocked up on Guatemalan cacao, Cappy gorditos, and Quezaletca booze, in tamarind and hibiscus flavor! I really kinda love foreign grocery stores more than anything.
We had dinner at Doña Luisa Xecoteneatl, where it seemed like all of the locals were hanging! There is a bakery underneath the restaurant and it smelled so delicious the entire time. I had a wonderful sandwich with soup and hibiscus tea. There is a great view of the volcano through the window. After dinner, we decided to walk down to the Casa Santo Domingo, a former convent turned 5-star hotel. It was incredibly beautiful and acts as a type of colonial museum. It would be a gorgeous place for a wedding! However, I was a little bit bothered by the fact that there were actors dressed in traditional Mayan clothing, strategically placed throughout the hotel.
I considered turning up in Antigua, I mean, it was Friday! Then I remembered that I'm 30 and married and I will melt if I go out on foot while it's raining. We opted for 2 for 1 avocado margaritas at a place 2 doors down, where we watched Juego 5 of the NBA Finals. By far, the BEST avocado margarita that I have ever had! The ratios were on point and 2 margs for 70Q is hella chill. Our cue to leave was when the piano player came and we went to find ice cream. Parque Central was lit with a full on marimba band, but also it was clear this is where the homeless spend their evenings, so it kinda made me sad. We ended up finding an ice cream shop that was just about to close. Un milagro! I got the Fresa Real and we called it a night.
I spent the rest of my night, repacking my luggage and hoping that it wasn't over 50lbs. (It was 37lbs.)
This bathtub made me want to ditch our clawfoot and tile it up, that seat/step is amazing. I woke up at 5:30am to catch the sunrise from our rooftop but the previous night's rain had the sky clouded AF. I can atleast say that I tried!
We went back to Doña Luisa Xicoteneatl for our last breakfast as a team. The drive to Guatemala City was about 2 hours. Getting through security was a breeze and since I had some time to kill, I blew some dollars in the airport gift shop. I started to feel symptoms of a sinus infection, which was only worsened by in-flight cabin pressure. I'll take that at the end of my trip over any other illness!!
I am SO glad that I went on this trip. I learned so much and I can't wait to apply this knowledge in the future, somehow, someway.
Check out my complete Guatemala album on Flickr!