Retro Trip Recap! Sister Soiree 2009: Belize and Guatemala

20363_233657834132_2818604_nRecently, I was organizing my blog by destination and lamented the lack of posts from my  pre-blog trips. THEN, I recalled that Jessie and I did a blog for our Sister Soiree trip!  I did some sleuthing and found it!  Here it is, in eight ‘enhanced’ blog posts with more photos and details than we originally posted (due to slow/expensive internet connection.) Jessie wrote half of these posts but took more than half of the naps on this trip.


Blue Hole, Belize

Jessie and I are going on a SISTER TRIP!  In seven days we are embarking on a 3 week journey in Central America. We have only made basic plans in order to leave time for adventure to find us along the way. (Jessie is sure that I am going to want to ‘do stuff’ all the time so she made me promise that we could have lots of naps.)

Waterfalls, Belize
Waterfalls, Belize

Belize is first. Beach, snorkel, swim, sand and maybe some rum. Belize is known for it’s caves and jaguars, both of which are on our “to do” list.

Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala


Next, we’ll head north to the Mayan ruins of Tikal.

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We are still working out an itinerary. We are starting in Belize and working our way to Antigua, Guatemala where we fly home from. We plan to do the budget-tourist trail of things : ruins, snorkel, volcano, cave tubing, jaguar reserve….

If anyone has any suggestions please share.

Adrienne and I will update the blog as we go when we get the chance.

Sister Soiree 2009: Sunrise @ Tikal or Jessie makes a Tarantula friend.


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We part ways with our Glover’s crew and crossed the border on foot. We were welcomed into Guatemala by the falling ash of burnt trash falling from the sky. And all of a sudden we didn’t know how to talk to anyone! Luckily, that was last week and now our memories of Guatemala are much more fond. And our Spanish has improved… a bit. I never caught on that ‘nombre’ meant NAME because it sounded like NUMBER. I kept wondering why people were asking me for my number…

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We caught a minibus to Flores, about 2.5 hrs from the border, a cute little town on an island. We arrived at night and after finding Los Amigos hostel was full, found Dona Goya.

Jessie reads ‘Water for Elephants’ in the Doya Gona hostel, Flores, Guatemala.

We didn’t make plans for the morning because I was still feeling a bit under the weather. Instead we went back to Los Amigos to have smoothies for breakfast. Yumm. They still didn’t have room for us. We walked the town a bit but it was so, so hot.  Time to make new plans.

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This is the orange lady who peels Jessie’s fruit just the way she like it- for $.25!

By lunch we had gotten antsy and decided to head off for Tikal, 1 hr shuttle ride from Flores.

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Temple of the Jaguar, where they buried Lord Chocolate with 16kilos of Jade jewelry.

We rented a tent with an air mattress for $10 each and dashed off into the park to see what we could see before it closed at 6pm. We found our way to the central plaza and climbed up the wooden staircase (you can’t climb any of the temples now) to watch the full moon rising over the Jaguar temple.

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The only other person there was Fransisco, the night guard. For the past 12 years he has worked the 6pm-6am shift with 2 other guards. His English was as poor as our Spanish, but when he kept telling us we had lots of time, don’t leave yet- we relaxed an enjoyed the moonlight. Then when we should have been leaving, he motioned for us to follow him to Temple 4- the largest temple in Tikal.

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Our new guard friend took us up to the top of Temple 4, where we met Jerry and Mitchell from San Franciso. It was just the 5 of us, on top of this bazillion-year-old temple, watching the full moon rise. Whew. Amazing stuff. As Francisco lead us out of the park, he stopped us at the clearing of middle of the largest temples, the ‘town square’ and motioned for us to watch him. He brought his hands together in a LOUD CLAP, which proceeded to furiously bounce back and forth between the temples making a noise like a hi-speed zip-line! It was fantastic! Apparently, the buildings were carefully places so that announcements made by the priests, standing on the temples, would be amplified.

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We headed back to our tent and were getting ready to go to bed without supper when our California gentlemen showed up and demanded we join them for dinner, their treat! We couldn’t turn them down and had a lovely time chatting about their birding and our travels. They were lovely! Off to bed now zzzz…..

Sister Soiree 2009: An Introvert’s Illness

introvertJessie got sick. It turns out that the sudden transition from non-electric island life to the bustle of San Ignacio (with a gaggle of exhausting extroverts) was a shock to the system of my introvert sister. (In 2009, J was an un-diagnosed introvert. Back then, she was just a girl who took naps with a frequency that rivaled most house cats.) Here we are, 3 siblings, practicing our napping.1077599_10153048570410788_99132229_o

When extra naps didn’t fix the mystery illness, we decided it was time to strike out into the unknown and see what magical cures the Pharmacia had in store. (Here’s me, in our $7.50 hotel room)


Ooh! Look at all the choices!
1913571_374555335787_6325288_nJessie chooses the one with the best name… Chesty Cough Mixture!

1913571_374555355787_5824364_nHere goes nothing! In this photo, Jessie is experience the ‘Chesty Cough Mixture’s mentholated goodness!

1913571_374555360787_955906_nAnd here is the moment when J decides that she is cured and will never need to take that medicine again!1913571_374555375787_7881754_nCURED!

Just for giggles, here is the EXTROVERT care card. (In case you haven’t met me… I’m a classic extrovert.)extroverts1 (1)



Sister Soiree 2009: Semuc Champey and my first travel injury.

1913571_374738280787_625062_nOur next adventure was spending 6+ hours in a minibus from Flores to Coban on our way to Semuc Champey! I took this photo because it was the first street light we’d seen for weeks! The barely-floating ‘ferry’ was not my favorite…


When we got to Coban, we got ate and switched vehicles for the next 2 hour journey to the small, mountain village of Lanquin. The jungle mountains were lush and humid.1913571_374738315787_7620492_n (1)

FINALLY, in Lanquin,  we were transferred to the back of a pick-up for 30 minutes of bumpy 2-track down into the jungle valley. It was dark by the time we arrived at the Los Marias Hostel.1913571_374738340787_1229879_n  Here it is the next morning.


Speaking of mornings- Los Marias made us lovely breakfasts! It seems that fried eggs are a  breakfast staple, world-wide! The warm tortillas were a nice touch.Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 1.44.25 PM

During breakfast at our hostel, we met Nichola Cagey and Travis and together we swam through the Las Marias caves with candles.


It was nearly impossible to swim while ALSO holding our candle- but our guide kept his dry and would relight ours after every swim.

22632_443389970701_6045759_nAfter jumping off the rope swing into the river, we headed to see the terraced pools of turquoise water that make Semuc Champey a (hard to reach) tourist destination. 22632_443390215701_3678223_n

The water was refreshing and full of tiny fish who gave your feet pedicures! Next, we made the hike up to the viewing platform. It was definitely worth the effort.11046808_10153551534349133_73477039343046187_oThe climb made us hungry, so we bought quite a few of these rounds of homemade chocolate from the little kids outside our hostel. They came in cinnamon, anise, cardamon and vanilla. You can see the handprint in the one Jessie is holding. Authenitcally hand-made!

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On our very last day in Semuc Champey- I almost broke my arm! (J- do you have a photo of the patch-job you did on me?)

Here’s the good/bad of how it went down.

The good news: our dorm was clean and nearly empty. The bad news: 0ur dorm room was at the top of a steep hill. The good news: there were wide, even stairs! The bad news: the stairs were tiled with decorative pieces of VERY SLIPPERY plates! The worst news: it rained the morning we left. I was doomed.( Here’s a gorgeous photo of the Cahabón River to build suspense.)22632_443390150701_6965053_n

That morning I was the first one packed up, so I headed down to put in our order for breakfast since our pick-up would arrive soon. Half-way down the stairs I lost my footing on a slippery tile and my feet flew out from under me as my heavy backpack yanked me to the ground. Instinctually, I put my arm out to brace myself and my forearm connected with the edge of a concrete step. I let out a loud scream, “F*%@$!!!” Jessie comes running out of the dorm, top speed, down the stairs and slips on the step and scrapes up her ankle. What a good sister. I’m still yelling as Jessie undoes the buckles on my giant pack and helps me up. We cleaned up the scrape on my forearm with soap and water, applied some Neosporin and taped a panty-liner to the wound since it wouldn’t stop bleeding. Then, we shoved breakfast in our faces and prepared for another full-day, multiple-vehicle trip thru Guatemala. Thanks to some TLC from my sister, the cut on my arm healed nicely. (You can still see the scar, but just barely.) Here I am, happily eating more fried plantain chips on our way to Antigua. I love my sister!1913571_374738270787_8107017_n

Sister Soiree 2009: Volcanoes and Lactating Fountains

When we last left you, Jessie and I were in Semuc Champey and I had taken a serious fall on some slippery stairs, nearly breaking my arm. Now, we were holding on for dear life in the back of a pick-up truck that was climbing up the 2-track, back to the tiny town of Lanquin. We were on the last leg of our journey, headed to Antigua. So was this D-bag tourist. Hungover BROS like this guy give Americans a bad name abroad. 1913571_374779955787_6045035_n

We finally made it to Antigua, home of the chromed-out ‘Chicken Bus’ and found our hostel.21968_386331710787_7626777_n

After getting settled in, we walked the streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Center. 21968_386331540787_931124_n

Angtigua’s lovely architecture seems to draw in the ex-pats… we immediately noticed that there was an overabundance of ‘things tourists like’ – we counted 12 coffee shops, a gym and a lovely town square with a fountain and trees full of twinkle lights. Loads of little girls tried to get tourists to buy crafts and postcards from them. (Ideally, you should never buy anything from a child when they should be in school.) 21968_386331470787_3650846_n

Upon closer inspection, the fountain is a bit…titillating.

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The fountain was built by Diego de Porres in 1738, who took his inspiration for the fountain from the Neptune Fountain in Bologna, Italy. Official, the fountain is named ‘Fuente de las Sirenas’ (Fountain of the Mermaids), but Jessie & I dubbed it, Our Lady of Perpetual Lactation. We are very clever.21968_386331495787_253649_n

As we wander the town, we notice that there ALL the travel shops have placards advertising a guided hike up Pacaya, one of the 3 active volcanoes near town. We sign up and go buy marshmallows. The hike is long, hot and terrible. It leaves in the mid-afternoon so you arrive at dusk when the lava is most impressive. I trudge on, the crunch soil shifts and slides under my feet. I am so slow that they ask me 4 times, ‘Wouldn’t I rather ride a horse? Only $20!)

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 1.44.50 PMFinally, we reach a vast field of cooled lava, speckled with tourists- there is no defined path and I am so far behind that I don’t know how to get back to my guide. I see a guy step on a ledge of lava that crumbles and he falls, deeply scratching his palms and forearms. BAH! The guide has to come back and lead me by the hand over to the river of lava! It was seriously impressive as it slowly slid by in a wave of oppressive heat. We did indeed roast marshmallows on the lava flow!

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(I just realized that you can see my bandage on my inner forearm in the photo above. Also, I just took that wicking North Face t-shirt to SE Asia!)

The next day, we wander through a market, looking for fabrics and we happen upon the Chicken bus depot! We loved the buses all decked out with chrome and spinner hubcaps.21968_386331695787_3672918_n

We also found a parade…21968_386331635787_7840551_n

And later that day, there was a live nativity scene complete with wisemen on horseback and a live baby Jesus.

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We randomly became part of a parade of kids dressed up like old people dancing through town.

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It’s Monday night and we’re mostly packed up and ready to head to the airport in the morning. We´ll be sure to post our favorite pictures when we get home ! (Like the photo of Jessie at the airport with a box of banana treats… that the worms got into. YUM!)   Instead, we’ll leave you with this sign. Thanks for joining us on our trip!21968_386331805787_6768576_n