Sunday, August 1, 2010

gautemala day 5

interesting things about peacocks:

1. peacock - male, peahen- female, peafowl- refers to birds of both sexes

2. one of the largest flying birds

3. they caw REALLY loudly

all night we hear ca-cawing, cawing, cawing by our 2nd story window. i didn't even realize they could fly. but there they were, perched in the branches of the trees that canopied the hotel grounds.

we pass the pool on our way to breakfast. peacocks. everywhere. crossing our path, perched in the trees, flying down from the trees. it was gorgeous in the daylight.

last night we passed the pools on our way to dinner. but that's another story for another day.

today we were on our way to izapa, mexico, or 'the most important civic and religious center on the pacific coast from 600BC - 400AD' (v. garth norman, world's expert on izapa)

what to expect:



bugs, namely chiggers

border crossing

long bus ride

walking about 2 miles

an amazing experience

we were prepared for all of these.

past the pool, we made our way to the bus. in front of us stood an enormous tree. the morning light illuminated it's trunk and branches. we actually stopped walking to look at it. as i was thinking it, garrett said, 'wow. that's a majestic tree.' we walked closer to it. i snapped a few shots as garrett looked up in awe. it was huge. and alone, and regal. how can a tree be regal? i'm not sure, but this one most definitely is. mental note: find out what tree this is.

manuel told us: the kapok, or ceiba tree.

i found this info from the ceiba foundation:

The ancient Maya of Central America believed that a great Ceiba tree stood at the center of the earth, connecting the terrestrial world to the spirit-world above. The long thick vines hanging down from its spreading limbs provided a connection to the heavens for the souls that ascended them. Even today, these grand trees are regularly spared when forests are cut -- it is a common event to see lone, isolated Ceiba trees proudly spreading their shady branches high above a pasture or agricultural field, a relict of the great forests that once were there. Ceiba trees are self-compatible, meaning they can self-pollinate to produce viable seeds.

we board the bus headed for the boarder.

manuel is amazing. he's a perfect tour guide. he's native to guatemala, he has friends everywhere, he knows the culture, the people, and the history. i don't know many americans who know our history as well as he knows his. oh yeah, and on occasion he performs miracles that i have found usually involve sliding a few bills to whomever stands at the gate.


he orchestrated a border crossing for a bus of 47 people~ in less than 30 minutes.

this includes disembarking, passports, mandatory bus fumigation and quick search, a potty break (for most of us), and boarding the bus. he has mastered the art of leaving a tip.

after a drive we walk off the bus and into a clearing. chickens ran around, a small house was nearby, and a man outside working on something. manuel went and paid our admission. we walked over to looked at a stone (stela 67) depicting a journey on the sea, heading east. pretty cool. this lone stone is surrounded by low (8' tall) temple looking structures, 3 steps high. dad says this stone was moved from its original spot, probably from across the street. (i laugh to myself as i imagine those that built these temples. when they finished, they weren't quite right. something was missing. one of the builders said, 'hold on a second, i know just what this needs.' and they went across the street to steal stela 67.

now we head across the street to see what we came for.

one piece of land- 3 possible stories, all intwined, all different time periods.

those that were older took a taxi. the rest of us walked down the dirt road. we passed small houses here and there. there may have been ten houses, max. we passed pigs, chickens, a couple dogs, and birds in the trees. it was mostly green jungle. upon further investigation, you could start to pick things out. here was a grove of cocoa trees. over there is a garden of corn, beans, and squash. corn is everywhere. we came upon a house (muted red in color) with laundry on the line and cocoa beans spread on the porch, drying in the sun. one house (light aqua blue) had the radio on quite loud. there were 4 men working in the crops outside.

we approached the clearing. gar was up ahead, with mom. i had fallen behind (garrett's ramming speed) because of my picture taking. (he later told me i'd missed an iguana! it rested on 'the tree of life' stone (stela 5) when he and mom walked up. it split when it saw them approach.) what a cool place. i was impressed, this was a good sized clearing. mounds (un excavated ruins) were all over.

dad told us about the tree of life stone as we stood around it. the stone is carved into a picture that tells a story. this stone has in the center a tree, then a rod, water, 12 roots, a man writing a story, another man teaching. cool stuff.

more stones were sprinkled around the perimeter of the grounds, each one shaded by a corrugated tin roof. each told their part of the story. deep respect abounded here. this place was a commemorative monument to a person of significance. a king? a prophet? the father of a nation?

have you heard the mayan story of quetzalcoatl, the white god that descended from the clouds and visited the people? my eyes wandered to the highest 'hill' or temple. the weather was hot and humid, but the clearing was serene. the trees seemed to be talking with the grass. if we would stop to listen, could they tell us of a figure that indeed connected the terrestrial world to the spirit world above providing a connection to the heavens? would they tell us of a day when earth's chaos stopped and there was peace? and there was light.

i looked near the middle of the clearing. there a ceiba tree stood tall and majestic. it offered rest and shade to those who sat in the benches built in its buttress roots. some say the central figure of the tree of life stone is represented by the ceiba tree. i don't wonder why.

it was a slow- paced quiet day, offering plenty of time to reflect. from the peacock to the ceiba tree, the tree of life stone and the temple plaza, it was a day filled with regal figures. here, i couldn't help but feel i was surrounded by greatness. i too felt a profound respect for those that have gone on before me, and for their contributions to their world that has turned into my world.


connie s.miles said...

Amy - You are an incredible writer!! I want you to make this adventure into a book. If you don't, I will - but it would be better if you did it so you can add more to it if you wanted. I will help you if you want - just know that I won't stop bugging you until it is all in book form. :)

Melis said...

LOL, Connie!

I love this post, Maim! So wonderful! I think Rob's getting tired of me saying I want to go there {to Guate}! ;) Looks like such an incredible experience!!!

Kimbo said...

I will pay for a copy of the book! Please do it. This is just priceless, amy. You really are very talented. I feel your feelings-- or better said, you put my feelings into beautiful words. Thank you.

amy said...

sounds like a great idea. a book it is. it's just gonna take a while.

lol, melis! next time i will tuck you in my suitcase. ;)