Mexico, Havana and Guatemala
  • Day28

    Last day in LA

    January 11, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    We slept in - everyone slept well. And then a repeat of our first day; iHOP for breakfast (we even ordered the same meals!) then dropped Mitch at the Guitar Centre while we visited Glossier (make up) for Alex, followed by Urban Outfitters- then met Mitch for lunch at In ‘N’ Out burger for lunch .. a record shop for Mitch.. Santa Monica (battling traffic) for a quick visit, then back to the hotel to collect bags and head to Emma Issacs’ house for a visit.

    We all went out for dinner to a very cool warehouse style restaurant on La Brea called Rebublique before racing to the airport - running so late the check in was already closed when we arrived. But we made it and settled down for the overnight flight home.

    Charley was the big surprise - trapezes, eating, sleeping and even going to the toilet by herself during the flight!
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  • Day26

    Guatemala City

    January 9, 2019 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Really not much to say about this dirty big charmless city.

    We arrived at night - the hotel
    Is in a clean and reputedly fashionable
    part of town - perfectly fine I’d say. We slept well, woke to a nice breakfast and headed to the artisanal market half an hour’s drive away.

    There was nothing remotely interesting to see en route and we arrived to a soulless, suburban ‘market’ selling very uninteresting handicrafts. It was slightly depressing and we left as soon as we could, heading across other freeways to the centre of town and the market there.

    It really did feel like we were going through the motions, and after looking around for about an hour we headed back to the bright, modern and cheerful plaza with a plethora of food options. Last night we had a reasonably good Italian, and today we chose Japanese teppanyaki which we all greatly enjoyed.

    And then it was onto the airport for our flight to LA. The kids were thrilled with an upgrade to business class. And the flight went fast.

    Back in LA it was déjà vu - staying back at The Jeremy (another upgrade) - this time to a one-bedroom suite. Heaven!
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  • Day25

    Tikal 2

    January 8, 2019 in Guatemala ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    Got to the airport 2.5 hours before our flight left. No wifi or mobile data - we were smelly, hot, tired and hungry.

    Arrived in Guatemala City at night (again) - staying in a simple boutique business-style hotel in the middle of a more upmarket area.

    It was already 9pm so we hurried out for dinner, concerned restaurants would soon be closing. Found a stylish, atmospheric Italian nearby. Ate, showered, bed.
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  • Day25

    Temples at Tikal

    January 8, 2019 in Guatemala

    Amazing day. After spending the night in a jungle lodge, we headed out to the Tikal
    national park.

    We were prepared for forecast rain and took snacks and water for the day.

    It began with some uphill hiking on very humid conditions, listening to the sounds off the nearby howler monkeys and watching out for the spider monkeys and native birds that live in this area.

    It wasn’t long before we emerged from the lush jungle and suddenly found ourselves facing the first of the ruins - these were the living spaces and the marketplace of the villagers who lived here - all progressively built from 800AD.

    From there it was hours of climbing endless staircases, exploring the temples and astronomical towers that have been excavated so far. Almost impossible to imagine these structures had initially been painted red!

    Although it’s been 28 years since I was first here, not much has changed. We were still able to scale the ruins - albeit there are now staircases to get you safely to the top, and some even have railings at the summit) although most don’t.. The topmost ‘room’ where the rulers were buried have been fenced off, but otherwise I was free to retrace my steps and reminisce with the kids.

    After climbing every single structure in the heat (but luckily no rain - even the clouds cleared!) we made our way back to the entrance to cool down over lunch before reboarding our transport to the airport.
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  • Day24

    Jade and the jungle

    January 7, 2019 in Guatemala ⋅ 🌧 15 °C

    A more relaxed morning. Charley wasn’t feeling great so we left her in bed while we had breakfast around the corner at the sister hotel.

    Another beautiful day. After breakfast we walked to the Jade museum where we were booked into a workshop to create a piece of jewellery from jade. It was so much fun - and quite challenging! We each began by choosing a piece of raw jade stone in a color we liked, and then had to use a cutting machine followed by 4 stages of sandpaper to smooth and polish our piece. We all made pendants - Mitch made a pick, Charley her Mayan star sign, Alex a teardrop and me a cylindrical pendant. We were all thrilled with the results - despite emerging with severely shaved nails and cuticles.

    Then lunch on Parque Central before heading back to the hotel to clear out of our rooms.

    One more hour before we got collected for the airport run and we chose to return to the central artisanal market (can never get enough of these!) as Alex hadn’t seen it. A quick visit then back to the hotel to collect backs and head to Guatemala City airport.

    Just a 45 minute flight and we arrived in the dark to Flores - in the middle of a jungle setting.

    It feels like we’ve been dropped onto another planet! Humid, quite with only the sounds of jungle nightlife, we are staying in simple tropical - style villas.
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  • Day23


    January 6, 2019 in Guatemala ⋅ 🌧 12 °C

    Another early start - and another long, winding drive - this time to the town of Chichicastenango, which twice a week hosts the second biggest market in Central America.

    It is exactly as I remember it- a rabbit Warren of colourful stalls; teeming with people carrying heavy textile sacks on their backs and heads, rudely pushing bystanders out of their way.

    We visited the Church, which still incorporated a lot of the indigenous worship practices as well as the very colourful cemetery further up the hill. But mostly we wandered through the market bargaining for trinkets and marvelling at the handiwork of all the beautiful textiles.

    On the way back, we stopped for lunch at a more traditional Guatemalan restaurant where we were tortured throughout the meal by a very loud maremba. Back in Antigua, our guide took us past a jade museum and workshop quite close to our hotel. The jade here is beautiful and comes in many colours. It is specific to this area, formed by the local volcanos and quite different from Chinese jade.

    We booked into a jade workshop for tomorrow and learned a bit about the history of jade while we were there.

    After a short rest back at the hotel, we went for dinner at an Italian restaurant which - like most meals here was adequate. The highlight again- playing UNO.
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  • Day22

    More Lake Atitlan - San Juan

    January 5, 2019 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    We visited two other villages and loved it all. Had lunch in a restaurant lakeside, before taking a tuk tuk around the bend to the last village - San Diego, and after a brief tour boarded the boat back to Panajachel - this time with Mitch driving and having to battle some fairly rough waves.

    And then it was time to endure the long drive back to Antigua. We arrived back around 7pm and in the process of walking to a place I’d found on a blog recommending dinner, we stumbled across a very new ramen restaurant and decided to give it a try. A nice break from the very heavy meals we’ve been having.
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  • Day22

    Lake Atitlan - morning

    January 5, 2019 in Guatemala

    Early, early wake up - ready for 6am collection. The hotel prepared breakfast boxes for us to take - which reminded us of Africa.

    It was a long and winding drive to Panajachel on the banks of Lake Atitlan from where we met out boat.

    It was a stunning, shiny, blue-sky and warm-breeze kind of day - absolutely perfect for boating, and we were rendered breathless by the stunning beauty of the landscape; volcanic mountains surrounded the lake, and small villages dotted the feet of those mountains. We could see smoke coming from the top of one of the volcanoes.

    We visited three different villages - the first, San Pedro was run by the residents as a collective. They farmed coffee beans and cocoa and make organic products. We first visited a small coffee production and were given a demonstration of every part of the coffee-making process. After which of course we had to try the end product... as well as some excellent looking chocolate to take homes gifts.
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  • Day21

    Arriving in Antigua

    January 4, 2019 in Guatemala ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    A loooong day of travel. Work up (relatively) early to catch the end of the sunrise over the ocean at Playa.

    Then a drive to Cancun airport to catch a flight to El Salvador, and from there a connecting flight to Guatemala City, and a shuttle to Antigua.

    We arrived after sunset - but even as we drove along the cobblestone streets to our accomodation, I was marvelling at the charm of this place.

    Our boutique hotel is just gorgeous- and nothing has been overlooked; high, wrought iron bed head and base, a beautifully appointed bedroom and bathroom - all so lovely.

    Charley and I went for a walk to the main plaza and then around the artisanal market getting a sense of the place. We had such a lovely time together while the others rested.

    Alex was too tired for dinner so Mitch, Charley and I went around the corner to the larger sister hotel to ours- it has a pool we are free to use and a buffet breakfast we are also welcome to partake in. A lovely, simple dinner in a beautiful environment.
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