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Polaroid of the Week

Polaroid of the week: Chillin’ at sunset in El Salvador

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After 5 weeks of traveling through Guatemala we were ready for some beach time and went to El Salvador in search of a nice beach getaway. El Salvador’s Pacific Coast is especially known for its excellent surfing conditions and one of the best surfer beaches is El Tunco. The weather is hot and sunny all year round and the waves attract surfers from around the globe. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed and we spent a great day in El Tunco watching the surfers and the gorgeous sunset from one of the beach bars.

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Polaroid of the week: Kite crazy in Chichicastenango

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On 2 November or Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), there are big kite festivals all over Guatemala. We were lucky to take part in a kite festival in Chichicastenango where the kids are kite crazy. The cemetery on the hill is the main spot where young and old gather and let their kites fly.

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Polaroid of the week: Mayan family in Todos Santos Cuchumatán

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Todos Santos Cuchumatan is a village in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, and the Mam Mayans make up by far the largest part of its population. Todos Santos is one of the very few places in Guatemala where not only the women, but also the men still wear the colorful traditional clothing. The red-and-white striped trousers and the straw hats with the blue ribbon are the distinctive brand mark of the Todos Santeros.

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Polaroid of the week: La Concepcion in Antigua, Guatemala

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Antigua, the former capital of Guatemala, has frequently been hit by earthquakes, but especially the earthquake in 1773 left severe damages, and up to today, dozens of ruins of churches and convents can be seen throughout the city – the Convent La Concepcion is only one of many and you can spend all day touring the ruins in Antigua and imagining what life was like in this magical colonial city.

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Polaroid of the week: Miguel de San Miguel

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We had just gotten to Guatemala and stayed in the city of Flores for a couple of days, which is actually a beautiful island in Lake Peten Itza. One day, as we sat on the dock just soaking up the sun, an Guatemalan ‘anciano’ (or really old man) came over and started to chat with us. He introduced himself as ‘Miguel de San Miguel’, Miguel from San Miguel, a little village on the other side of the lake.

We learned that Miguel was 85 years old and had lived his entire life at the lake, working most of his life extracting gum from the gum trees in the surrounding jungles. Miguel de San Miguel won us over with his charm, and we ended up spending the entire afternoon with him. He offered to take us out on the lake with his little boat, where he took us on a guided tour of ‘Petencito’, a little island in the middle of the lake which is home to a zoo.

He happily shared his knowledge about flora and fauna, chatted about how Flores has changed over the last 50 years, and he also proudly (and out of of nowhere) told us that he weighed only 80 lbs – but he was in top shape for his age. If you pass through Flores, look out for Miguel’s turquoise boat at the pier and make sure to say Hello.

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Polaroid of the week: Tropical Storm in Belize

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We were greeted by ‘tropical depression’ Matthew within 12 hours of our arrival to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, a small island off the coast of Belize. This was our first severe storm since setting off on our trip. Matthew was expected to hit Belize with much more strength, so our second day was spent nervously watching the locals boarding up windows and buying up food stuffs to last a few days. The storm status quickly lowered, however,  from hurricane to tropical storm and finally to tropical depression. Still, its power forced ferry services between the islands and the mainland to cease  and we were obliged to hold out in San Pedro until the storm passed over Belize. Fortunately, Matthew did not cause major damage anywhere.

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Polaroid of the week: VW Beetle in Mexico

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The German car company Volkswagen produced its famous Beetle in Puebla, Mexico, from 1967 until 2003, where it held its classic 50s look until the very end. The Beetle reached cult status in Mexico and can be seen everywhere. In many cities they are used as taxis, fitting as many as six people into the tiny cars.



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Polaroid of the week: Temple of the Jaguar

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Chichen Itza is one of the best known Mayan ruins in all of Mexico, and has been voted one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. The 5 sq km site is filled with intricately-designed temples, bath houses, and religious sites, like the Temple of the Jaguar above.  Jaguars are a common symbol in Mesoamerican art and can be found on many of the temples. They stand for strength, confidence and divinity.

The site is dominated by the main Castillo, a  pyramid with 90 steps to the top on all four sides, built by the Maya between 600 – 900 AD.

The Maya name “Chich’en Itza” means “Mouth of the well of the water-sorcerer.” Since the Yucatan peninsula has no above-ground rivers, retrieving water was only possible through natural sinkholes called cenotes. Chichen Itza has two cenotes, one of which is the Cenote Sagrado, or Sacred Cenote where skeletons of sacrificed men and children (!!)  have been discovered, along with valuable objects such as gold, pottery, jade and copper.

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Polaroid of the week: ¡Viva Mexico!

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As we are celebrating our last week in Mexico, the country is celebrating the 200th anniversary of its independence today, on 16 September, which is also Jess’ birthday!

Celebrations start every year on 15 September when the President of Mexico rings the bell at the National Palace in Mexico City, waves the Mexican flag and shouts ¡Viva Mexico! from the balcony of the palace to the crowds in the Plaza de la Constitución (the Zócalo). More than 1 million people gathered for the spectacle at this year’s bicentennial.

In the evening of 16 September a national military parade starts in the Zócalo and ends on Mexico City’s main boulevard, the Paseo de la Reforma. Similar celebrations occur throughout all of Mexico.

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Polaroid of the week: Hard at work in Merida

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The Zocalo in Merida is home to several shoe shine men and boys, as are most central parks or squares throughout Mexico and Central America. We stopped to talk to him because of that adorable (and very pregant!) black cat.

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