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go west( from Belize) young man


By gleebeck
Joined: May 10, 2007
Posts: 11

Posted on: November 23, 2008 at 9:53PM

Having been along on the very first press trip to Belize some 20 years ago I am of course much enamored of this delightful country. On two separate visits for a total of eight weeks I could(and have)recount countless tales of the four "Rs" of Belize: reefs, ruins, rainforests, and rivers. On this occasion, however, I would like to advise on its western neighbor, Guatemala. Entry can be made from Belize, of course, but probably a flight into Guatemala City. Upon arrival please investigate the Quinta Reale, a very fine five-star hotel overlooking the din of the metropolitan area. By the way all of the Quinta Reale properties otherwise scattered through out Mexico are well worth visiting as well. Latin hospitality at its finest! Secluded and pampered you will be ready the next day to "road trip" on to Antigua and Lake Atitlan. As I have written about India it is necessary to take both a car and driver and if you are lucky as I was you will have a driver such as Humberto. Both an excellent driver and guide he can offer insights otherwise not attainable such as the observation following recent peace accords between the government and rebel forces that"peace may be on the paper but it is not up there," gesturing to the mountains as we make our way to Antigua. Of course, please check on the general security situation prior to travel but generally the country is typical of Central America-some caution is urged. Upon arrival in Antigua please arrange to stay at the Hotel Convento Santa Catalina, a restored 17th century convent offering great luxury and very attentive service. One aside comes to mind: when ordering wine we asked if the wine server knew how to tie the "little nun," a way of wrapping the linen towel in a kind of special knot around neck, He confessed he did not. For the rest of the evening we saw him and several others assiduously trying to accomplish the "little nun!" Please explore the colonial city wearing sensible shoes of course. Great photo opportunities abound but take note that Guatemalans have exhibited a paranoic fear regarding kidnapping of children and do not even attempt to photograph a child-there have been severe repercussions involving violence. Your trip should continue to the western border area surrounding Lake Atitlan where you board a kind of "African Queen" boat for the one hour crossing. Upon our arrival there was great commotion as a truck had just arrived-it was filled to the brim with women's underthings, apparently unsoiled but not wrapped in plastic. Yes, a whole truck load! If your guide is like our Humberto he will suggest a visit to Saint Simone. When we approached the little shanty I was advisedby one of the Saint's attendants to purchase a small bottle of cheap rum and 15 candles-three each of five different colors. Clearly, I was in for some kind of adventure and my fiance, of Mexican origin, was quite reluctant for me to proceed. Of course I had to-upon entering the "shrine room," dimly lit and smoky I was introduced to Saint Simone-tall, about six feet, garnered in a serapte and sombrero, smoking a cigar, and constructed entirely of roughly carved wood! Thereafter followed my offering of rum and candles, and 15 minutes of partly Mayan, partly Spanish blessings were imparted. Concluding was the placing of the sombrero on my head. Humberto beckons, the last of the little boats across the Lake was to depart imminently. As we boarded I felt the sudden and immediate effect of the Saint's blessings-I started scratching my head with furious intensity. Of course, every Mayan around for the last few decades had worn the same sombrero. If this happens to you you will find the nearest pharmacia with due hast, of course. report a problem

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