Miranda Murray

Joined January 2020
  • Day15

    Day 14 - San Juan La Laguna

    February 10 in Guatemala ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    Today we took a ferry to a nearby resort that was lake front. We relaxed under the sun and swam in Lake Atitlan. In the afternoon we took the ferry to a small Mayan village called San Juan La Laguna. The locals who live in the village dress very traditionally and typically hand make all of their clothing. We toured the village and visited a shop that hand makes scarfs, sweaters and bags from cotton trees within the village. All of the merchandise is dyed with colors that are extracted from different plants. We had the opportunity to watch one of the ladies stretch out the cotton from the tree then dye it and begin to weave it into a scarf.

    Our next stop was the natural medicine clinic where natural plants are used to heal different types of ailments as there are no western physicians available in the community.

    We then headed to an art gallery with paintings made by the locals. Most of the paintings were of traditional Mayan people in different settings such as picking vegetables and fruit in the crops to making clothing. The paintings were very unique with many vibrant colors.

    Our last stop on the tour was a chocolate plantation where we watched the process from start to finish. And of course we couldn't leave without buying some!

    After the tour of the town was over, we split up into groups and went to different homes where families hosted us for the night. Chelsea, Christie and myself were paired with a wonderful family that cooked us a delicious meal that included chicken, vegetables, rice and tortillas. The father worked on a farm which was an hour walk from their home and that is where they got all of their produce. The mom and daughter had a shop where they sold all of their handmade clothing. Both children also went to secondary school from 1-6pm each day. The parents hosted tourists at least 2 times per week through the Planteterra project so they could save up money for their children's college. Both parents did not have the opportunity to go to school beyond the primary years. The house was very basic, but was comfortable for the family. They only had enough electricity for lights and did not have any electric appliances. After supper, we played cards together and visited, which included some challenges as the entire family only spoke spanish and a Mayan language, but we were able to communicate with the little amount of Spanish we knew.

    It was a very eye opening experience as this family lived the way many Guatemalans live with little water, electricity, no vehicle and limited food and other basic items for daily living such as toilet paper.
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  • Day14

    Day 12 - Antigua Volcanoes

    February 9 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    We spent most of the morning walking through Antigua and visited all of the small shops. Later that afternoon, we drove about an hour to the bottom of Volcano Pacaya. It is an active volcano that is 2552 m high in elevation. The tour company provided us with a backpack, tent, food and other warm clothes as it is much colder at the top of the volcano. We hiked to the basecamp and set up our tents and gear. After a quick snack, we went on the final trek to the summit to have a better view of the volcano once the sun went down. We even got to roast marshmallows on the hot lava rock. It was an absolutely incredible experience!Read more

  • Day14

    Day 13 - Lake Atitlan and Panajachel

    February 9 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Today we travelled from Antigua to Panajachel where we had a beautiful view of Lake Atitlan. The lake is actually a volcanic crater and it still surrounded by many volcanoes. The town of Panajachel was also very quaint with lots of friendly locals.

  • Day12

    Day 11 - Antigua

    February 7 in Guatemala ⋅ ☀️ 4 °C

    We had a long travel day ahead of as we travelled from Rio Dulce through Guatemala City which has a high volume of traffic to Antigua. Antigua is filled with beautiful cobblestone streets and all of the concrete buildings have to be painted 1 of 4 colors so the color scheme is the same throughout the entire city.

    Unfortunately, I got salmonella poisoning so I was quite ill the entire day, but made a pretty quick recovery after visiting the hospital in Antigua. The doctor that helped me spoke English and was very kind. I was lucky to have such a positive experience is a country that doesn't have many resources. A large percentage of the population is considered to be in absolute poverty and makes less than 1 USD per day. Despite this, all of the locals are very friendly and welcoming to the tourists as they know that it brings money for their country.
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  • Day11

    Day 10 - Rio Dulce

    February 6 in Guatemala ⋅ ☀️ 6 °C

    I started the day by waking up early and kayaking next to the sunrise to visit the howler monkeys. Howler monkeys are a bit larger than spider monkeys and make a very loud howling/barking noise.

    After the kayak, we had breakfast then went for a walk through the rainforest to visit the nearby rubber plantation. The rest of the day was meant for relaxing by the pool!Read more

  • Day10

    Day 9 - Rio Dulce

    February 5 in Guatemala ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    Today we traveled from Flores to our hotel in Rio Dulce which is a small city. Our hotel is actually located on a small island that is a couple minute boat ride from the city. The hotel is in the middle of the jungle and the hotel rooms are cabin style. After settling in, we took a boat to another small village that had natural hot springs. We relaxed in the hot springs and ate coconuts from the locals!

    We also found a little kitten that lives on the island that looks just like Willow! We decided to name her Dumpling as we had had a previous discussion on which foods could be considered dumplings, haha.
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  • Day9

    Day 8. San Ignacio and Tikal, Guatemala

    February 4 in Guatemala ⋅ ☁️ 1 °C

    Today we woke up bright and early and drove from San Ignacio to the National Park in Tikal, Guatemala. We went on a guided tour through the rainforest and saw lots of spider monkeys! We also climbed the ruins, including the ruin that was featured in episode 4 of Star Wars.

    We continued on our journey to Flores for the night. The town is on a little island and is very beautiful. And I also go to see tuk tuks for the first time!!Read more

  • Day8

    Day 7. San Ignacio

    February 3 in Belize ⋅ 🌙 24 °C

    Today was a full day of caving! We travelled to a smaller town to visit the ATM (Actun Tunichil Muknal) caves. We walked through multiple rivers then strapped on our helmets and headlamps to explore the ancient Mayan ruin artifacts and beautiful crystals and stelectides. After a full day in the caves we had lunch then headed back to the hostel. Unfortunately we couldn't take any pictures in the caves as past tourists damaged the artifacts with their cameras (probably Americans lol)Read more

  • Day7

    Day 6.

    February 2 in Belize ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Today we travelled by the water taxi from Caye Caulker to Belize City then took another chicken bus to San Ignacio, Belize. We arrived at our hostel around 1 PM then took a taxi to the ancient Mayan ruins in Xunantunich. We had to cross a river on the car ferry before walking to the ruins. They cannot build a permanent bridge for cars and walking traffic as the tide fluctuates quite drastically throughout the rainy season. The ruins were absolutely breath taking as the area has been very well maintained for centuries.

    For supper, we travelled to a small town outside of San Ignacio to visit the Women's Pottery Co-op that G Adventures helps sponsor through the Planterra Project. The project helped to fund a space for the pottery workshop and provides job opportunities for women in the community. The pottery techniques are those used by the ancient Mayans that has been passed down through generations. A few of the other members of my group also tried their hand at pottery which was very entertaining for the locals! The community also served us a traditional Belizian dinner that is also funded through the project.
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  • Day6

    Day 5.

    February 1 in Belize ⋅ 🌧 26 °C

    We embraced the motto of the island "go slow" today and did lots of relaxing. We visited the smaller shops and enjoyed the beautiful weather. All of the locals and tourists travel by golf carts as all of the land is covered in sand and it gets quite muddy when it rains. We went for fresh seafood again for supper and might stop by one of the street shops for some dessert.

    Tomorrow we leave for San Ignacio, Guatemala at 8 am. We travel by ferry back to Belize City then by chicken bus to Guatemala. It was wonderful experiencing the Creole culture within Belize and trying their delicious food. Creole food usually tomato based and they use lots of rice, beans and seafood.
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