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   August 21, 2003
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Hello Everybody!

Three months since our last update... I can't believe it!

In these months lots has happened, I'll try to give you a little briefing on how our life has been.

The last update showed that Will and Janice had visited us. After we'd had some rest for a week, a new group of visitors landed on our doorstep: Sandy and Nancy, Nathan's parents. They stayed with us for a week and a half, or TWO weekends. How fun that was!

Nathan's parents arrived Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning they found themselves in a bus (a fancy one, not the crowded chicken kind) on the way to the lake. After some heavy sightseeing and shopping, we spend the night in Jaibailito, a small village on the lake, in the same hotel we'd stayed with my parents as well. (See May 19, 2003). 

We got two different hotel rooms then last time, and I could not let this update go by without showing you how we fell asleep that night... (Those hills you're seeing in the picture are actually two of the three volcanoes surrounding this absolutely beautiful lake.)

 

The next day we went to Chichicastenango, to the big market. On the way back we ended up in a nice chicken bus, were we got the last seats available: Nathan was third in a two-person seat, Sandy found himself sitting on a inverted bucket, and Nancy and I sat on the (nicely covered) engine block. Our bottoms got quite a sauna experience during that trip... But hey, sitting is still better than standing.

Nathan's parents also got to meet our landlords and experience their hospitality. This is a picture of a get together in their house, tasting wines and having a good time.

And then the big, long expected trip! It finally was Tikal time. Nathan and I had been saving this big trip for some of our visitors. Sandy and Nancy were the lucky accompaniments. Tikal is a site of ancient Mayan ruins, and big ones, too! It is located all the way up north in the PetÚn, the northern part of Guatemala. You can reach it by car or bus, but it takes between 10-12 hours to get there. That was time we didn't have, so we went by plane. This plane was real Guatemalan style. As you can tell we just walked to the plane, nobody helped us in or told us were to go. We then just took off, without any announcement. Also, the poor girl in the seat next to us found herself sitting in a chair that only had 1/4 of the seat bottom still in place. GuateQuality. 

 

But back to Tikal. The city of Tikal was dismanteled only about 40 years ago, if I'm right. People had known it was there before that time, but nobody thought it was anything special, especially not to spend a lot of money on to dig up. When they started, the site apparently looked like jungle with some hills and a couple of little buildings sticking out. What they then discovered was that all the hills were buildings and that the site they were working on is one of the bigger Mayan towns that existed. At this moment only a few of all the pyramids have been excavated and cleaned up. The majority is still covered under dirt and jungle. 

The picture below shows one of the temples in its entirety. The temples have very creative names such as Temple I, Temple II and so up to VII I believe. Most of them have alternative names as well, which reflect a little more of the mayan world. The big temple you see below is Temple I, aka Temple of the Gran Jaguar. This temple also has a twin temple facing it. Very impressive, too impressive to be able to catch on one picture, unfortunately.

The Gran Jaguar is depicted next to it. It seems to be the main Mayan God, and is found all over Tikal. The strange thing is that Mayan rulers always wanted to be more impressive than the ruler before them, and therefore build a temple greater and mightier than the previous ruler, on top of the previous pyramid. That made it very difficult for the archeologist to discover more about the culture, because it means that they have to break down part of the top pyramid to find out what is underneath it. 

Also, the Mayan culture was a pretty developed culture, but it never has discovered the use of the arch like the Romans did. Because of th there is no big gathering halls or any big rooms, because they simply did not know how to build that. Below you see how wide most hallways were build, just as wide as the bedrooms and other rooms they have found so far.

But beside the overwhelming pyramids in Tikal, the wildlife itself is worth visiting for. We saw wild monkeys, toucans, and yes, amazons! These are the parrots that Nancy herself has in Toledo. 

The nice picture of the scorpion was made in our bedroom in the hotel in the middle of the jungle. In the morning after our stay I searched my bed for any possible remaining items, and found a poor lost scorpion. I was happy I had not found it any earlier...

Back in Antigua we strolled through town, showing off our enormous market. Especially Nancy went crazy on all the unknown vegetables and fruits, and we had no shortage of foods for the days to come!

 

When Nathan unpacked the carrots at home he found a mysterious twin carrot.  Looked like a very special carrot, tasted like a normal one!

A little later we opened our bag of bananas that we buy from the market (14 for $0.25) and found a twin banana as well!  This banana was only joined from the outside, but still found two normal bananas inside.

Also, we found a new way to eat "snert", aka as traditional Dutch pea soup. Normally you only eat this wonderful meal on colder days in Holland, so when the temperature dropped enough (to about 20░C/75░F) we had a wonderful bowl of snert with tortillas. Outside in t-shirt on our balcony. Very yummy.

 

This will conclude this time's update. I hope you enjoyed it, and we hope to hear from you soon, too!

Love,

Annette and Nathan