Catholic Church in San Andrés Xecul in Guatemala

Guatemala, in Central America, embraced the Mayan culture more than any other country.  Its people still speak the dialect and its Mayan temples are a major tourist attraction.  Guatemalan architecture still incorporates Mayan symbolism.  I had my first experience of a zip wire here.

Tikal Park in Guatemala

Curious Spider Monkey in the Canopy in Tikal Park, Guatemala

Curious Spider Monkey in the Canopy in Tikal Park, Guatemala Credit: Valery Collins

The temples of the Mayan City of Tikal are central to Tikal Park that has been created around them.  On the outskirts of the park is a seven-stage zip wire, the Tikal Canopy Tour.  Encased in a harness I climbed up a tall, swaying tower behind my guide.  We stood on a small platform at the top, in the canopy of the trees, and my guide clipped my harness to the wire.  A spider monkey straddling the branches above me, watched us curious to see what would happen next.  A large glove was handed to me.  I had to wear this on my right hand which I would be using to control my speed by putting pressure on the wire.  Then we were off – flying down each stage through the jungle until we reached the ground again.  It was amazing.  Next stop, Yaxhá, and a temple cli

Temple 216 at Yaxhá in Guatemala

Temple 216 at Yaxhá in Guatemala

Temple 216 at Yaxhá in Guatemala Credit: Valery Collins

The area known as Yaxhá embraces several sites featuring Mayan Temples.  Information boards and maps guide visitors through the many ruins.  I accepted the challenge of my guide to attempt the climb to the top of a complete temple.  There were no railings to assist me as I clambered up the narrow steps barely wide enough to accommodate my feet.  In places these steps had crumbled to nothing and I had to edge my way across to find another route.  I had a great sense of achievement when I finally reached the top and could enjoy the panorama of temples surrounding me.  Under the scrutiny of some exotic birds in the tree tops.  My next experience involved livestock and locals at Chichicastenango market.

Market in Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Market in Chichicastenango, Guatemala Credit: Valery Collins

Chichicastenango market in Guatemala

Twice a week a huge market takes place on an open area in Chichicastenango.  Small herds of cows, sheep, goats and pigs mingle with hens, chicks, dogs and brightly clad sellers and buyers.  Stalls are piled high with fruit, vegetables, pots and pans, shoes – everything a household might need.  It is the largest, most chaotic market I have ever seen and great fun.

 A Catholic Church at San Andrés Xecul in Guatemala

The bizarre façade of its catholic church dominates the centre of the small village of San Andrés Xecul.  This bright yellow building features symbols from the Mayan and Christian faiths interspersed with agricultural scenes.  Another delightful memory of Guatemala.

Article by Valery Collins the Experienced Traveller

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