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Digging up Some Fun in Guatemala and Honduras
A series of articles written by the homeschooled Calder children about cruising the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

By Pippin and Paul Calder, ages 11 and 9
Posted Monday, May 9, 2005

From Livingston we motored into a jungle canyon. The cliffs were covered with trees and lush green vines. There were hundreds of egrets, pelicans, cormorants and other birds. A bright blue butterfly as big as a small bird flew right past us. Mayan indians were paddling dug out canoes under vines hanging down from the cliffs.

Last week we sailed from Mexico to Guatemala. Our fist stop in Guatemala was Livingston, where we anchored in front of the town. We had to wait for the officials to come to our boat in a launch to clear us in. There were five or six of them. They were friendly and quite quick. We got cookies for breakfast because Mummy and Daddy opened a packet for them!

Next we went into town. It was grungy and disgusting with sewage running down ditches into the river. We saw half starved dogs that looked like rats, and fish drying on the dirty street with flies hovering above them. We saw cayucos (dug out canoes) bringing sand for building. They do this because there are no roads to Livingston- everything goes in and out by boat. The cayucos were so full that water was slopping over the gunwales. The truck that was picking up the sand from the cayucos was sagging in the middle like an old horse, with the fender falling off and the windshield cracked all over and no other windows.

Near the end of the street, we met a bright green parrot. Paul tried to talk to it. It was cocking its head from side to side like it was trying to listen which was very cute, but then it chased him down the street biting his toes!

From Livingston we motored into a jungle canyon. The cliffs were covered with trees and lush green vines. There were hundreds of egrets, pelicans, cormorants and other birds. A bright blue butterfly as big as a small bird flew right past us. Mayan indians were paddling dug out canoes under vines hanging down from the cliffs.

At the top of the canyon, we stopped to bathe in a volcanic hot spring. The water in places was flowing out of the ground so hot it could burn you. Paul saw a minnow make a flying leap onto a rock and slip off.

We spend the night at the top of the canyon with parrots flying past us to roost in the trees. The next day we motored along a nig lake and arrived at an area of the river with several marinas. There were lots of cruising boats from Europe and America. We went to a couple of parties and a swap meet. We bought two air mattresses and daddy sold a bunch of his books.

From here we traveled inland to see the famous Mayan ruins at Copan, in Honduras. These were built over 1,000 years ago. First we had to get a launch to shore. Then we loaded into a van crammed with ice chests with a bunch of other people and drove for two hours. Next, we got on a bus which wasn't crammed, but we couldn't sit down until some people got off leaving their seats free. After that we got on an absolutely crammed bus, but luckily we had assigned seats so we cold sit down. This took us to the border with Honduras where we had to get out and walk across. The immigration officials in Guatemala and Honduras stamped our passports. Finally, we got in the bed of a pickup truck for the ride to Copan. The truck had bars to hold onto when we flew around mountain corners. Every once in a while we saw a grave on the side of the road where someone had zoomed off!

When we got to Copan, we hired a guide for $20 and walked around for a while. From the guide we learned about Mayan heiroglyphics - the ancient way for Mayans to write by using pictures and symbols. The writing was about the kinds and their succession. We saw a number of stellae, which are carved stone statues of the kings or gods, which hieroglyphics telling the story about that king or god. We also saw a turtle with two heads - one meant death and one meant life- and an old man who was supposed to have an alligator on his head, but it was broken. The alligator symbolizes the earth.

There were a number of temples, most of them in ruins. We could only climb a few. At the base of the temples, archeaologists were digging tunnels into the ruins. Buried under the biggest temple they found a wonderful building that was so sacred that instead of knocking it down when they built the new temple, like they usually did, the Mayans kept it intact and just covered it over. None of the original colors were faded.

Because it is impossible for everybody to go in an see this temple without ruining it, the archaeologists have built a full size replica in a brand new museum. It was gorgeous. The museum also contained original stellae and hieroglyphics and small buildings, with explanations in English of what they were. It was very well done.

In town we both bought a hieroglyphic necklace that symbolizes the month we were born. Paul bought a machete for $2. We stayed for one night in a hotel and then returned to our boat. Next time we'll tell you about the hot waterfall, the caves and the monkeys!

 
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