Wednesday, January 28, 2009

So it’s been awhile since I’ve written. Sorry to those of you who faithfully check my website… Things have been pretty normal and calm around here, but I’ll catch you up on a few exciting things.

Welcome Our New Arrivals!
A few days ago, Rancho Esperanza had the pleasure of purchasing two cows! They really are a huge blessing, because they will end up providing milk and other dairy products to the children. Right now we are only able to give them powdered milk (you can’t buy fresh milk in Rio Dulce), so we are all very excited about the cows. Also, both cows are “in a family way,” so we will be expecting precious calves in the near future. A HUGE thank you goes out to those of you who helped fund the purchase. Below I have included some pictures of the majestic creatures… well, maybe not majestic, but I’m sure their mothers think they’re beautiful. The video is of Joaquin, our curious little colt, trying to befriend one of the new cows. To say the least, she wasn’t interested in playing.

Oscar was REALLY excited about the cows. He's thoroughly enjoying working with them. They are incredibly tame and gentle... Most of the time...

A few weeks ago, Mike and Karen decided that it would be fun to take the kids on one last “hoorah” before school started back. The plan was to pack up and leave by 6am the next morning. Surprisingly enough, everyone got up early and everything was ready to go by 6- we had packed sandwiches, water, and snacks (and bags for those who were prone to carsickness, as the roads through the mountains of Guatemala are VERY curvy). I was INCREDIBLY excited, because of all the beautiful places that people had told me to see while in Guatemala, Tikal was one that everyone insisted that I visit.

Anyway, all 18 of us (Mike, Karen, the 8 kiddos, all of Lettie’s family, and me) piled into the big white van and took off. Things were going pretty smoothly... that is until it started raining and poor little Judy got car sick. We decided to keep trucking though. We had already reached the halfway point (if I remember correctly, Tikal is about a 4 hour drive from Rio Dulce) and had high hopes that the weather would clear up. We stopped a couple of times to purchase some motion sickness medicine for Judy and for bathroom breaks and finally made it to the ruins around 11am or so.

Unfortunately, the weather DID NOT clear up. In fact, it was raining pretty hard at times, but we decided that since we had come so far, we were going to see Tikal no matter what. Mike and Karen graciously offered to stay back at the car with the two youngest (Michael Jose and Danny) while the rest of us went exploring. The conditions weren’t what I’d call desirable to the typical tourist- the ground was incredibly slippery (and some places were flooded), the rain felt more like pellets than raindrops at times, we were all drenched within the first 5 minutes, and when the wind blew it was quite chilly… But that didn’t stop us from having a GREAT time!

We made the short hike up the mountain to the ruins, and seeing as I had NO CLUE what to expect once at the top, I was blown away! It was simply breathtaking. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tikal, here is a little overview of it’s history.

“Tikal is the greatest of all Mayan cities. During the time period when the Mayans dominated the Yucatan peninsula, the pyramids of Tikal were the tallest structures in the western hemisphere. The city was founded around 200 B.C. It seemed to be abandoned in 900 A.D. for unknown reasons. The site was discovered again by 1848 and has been going excavations ever since.
Tikal lies outside the city of El Peten, Guatamala. The towers of the city are well restored and surrounded by the rainforest, as the actual towers, some of which reach 212 feet, are located within the Tikal National Park. Wildlife is abundant in the park as a result of this.”

“The ruins lie among lowland rainforest. Conspicuous trees at the Tikal park include gigantic ceiba (Ceiba pentandra) the sacred tree of the Maya; tropical cedar (Cedrela odorata), and mahogany (Swietenia). Regarding the fauna, agouti, coatis, gray foxes, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, harpy eagles, falcons, ocellated turkeys, guans, toucans, green parrots and leaf-cutting ants can be seen there regularly. Jaguars, jaguarundis, and cougars are also said to roam in the park. For centuries this city was completely covered under jungle.”

I was really excited about seeing some of the wildlife in the jungle. Karen had told me that there are often monkeys and parrots hanging out in the large open areas of the park. Unfortunately because of the weather, I was only able to enjoy the beauty of the GIGANTIC trees in the jungle, but that’s ok. I’m determined to go back on a sunny day to do some more exploring and to take photos (I wasn’t able to take my camera out of the car on this visit). Also, there is a zip-line canopy tour that I would love to do.

After about an hour of exploring, drenched and ready for lunch, we headed back to the car. I love the way that Mike described the rest of the trip on his blog, so I’m stealing it for mine.

“Leti and Oscar took the kids to see the ruins. This lasted about an hour then they were back and ready to go. Poor kids looked like a batch of drowned rats and were all a bit cold. We had packed lunch so on our way back we looked for a roof to eat under. Everyone was really hungry so the first place we found was it, it was a bus stop, a really dirty smelly and muddy one at that, so we all wolfed down a sandwich and hit the road for home.
They did not get to see much so we will plan another trip when they get a break from school. We had a great day and everyone slept well soon after we got home.
It was a lot of driving for an hour at the park but worth every minute, The kids just enjoyed getting out, there was no whining or anything. It was just a great day.”

Amen to that! Despite the weather, it was a great day, and I’m so glad that I got to experience Tikal, one of the most mysterious and beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

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