small boats entering miraflores locks in the Panama Canal

Visiting the Panama Canal

Ways to Visit the Panama Canal

When in Panama City, visiting the Panama Canal is a must.  There are many ways to see it including taking a boat passage through the whole thing, taking a day trip on a boat, taking a tour on the manmade Gatun Lake, going to one of the locks, or walking along the causeway.

Walking along the Cinta Costera on the causeway which connects three islands simply provides an opportunity to see the boats heading toward the canal. I probably wouldn’t call it a canal visit, but the walk is nice enough for views of the boats and water.

Taking a boat tour of Gatun Lake is a good way to see the vessels transitting the canal while also seeing wildlife, monkey island, a native Indian village, Fort San Lorenzo and other places depending on the chosen tour.

Continue reading “Visiting the Panama Canal”
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santa catalina arch in Antigua

Top Things to Do in Antigua

About Antigua

Antigua is a city in the central highlands of Guatemala famous for its architectures and ruins of colonial churches. Once the capital of Guatemala, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Where to Stay in Antigua

During my time in Antigua, I stayed at Hotel Mesón del Valle on the South side of town which is a bit quieter.  Hotel Meson del Valle is one of twelve hotels operated by Antigua Hotel Solutions.  I didn’t know this at the time of booking, but think it is good to know if hotels rooms are booked during peak times like Easter. Continue reading “Top Things to Do in Antigua”

Convent of Santa Clara in Antigua

Antigua’s Parks, Churches, and Ruins

The Parks, Churches and Ruins of Antigua

Antigua, located in the central highlands of Guatemala, was settled as the third capital of Guatemala in 1543 by Spanish conquistadors after indigenous uprisings took place in the first capital and after a volcano destroyed the second capital over a 20 year time period.  Upon suffering from multiple earthquakes and severe destruction in 1773, the capital was ordered to move to Guatemala City by the Spanish Crown.

During its time as capital, Antigua became home to many religious orders that constructed several churches and convents near the main square and parks.  As a result of the earthquakes, the colonial city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features many ruins as well.  Famous for its Spanish Baroque influenced architecture, Antigua is a wonderful place to visit in Guatemala. Continue reading “Antigua’s Parks, Churches, and Ruins”

World’s Largest Easter Celebration

Antigua’s Easter Celebration

I went to Antigua, Guatemala for a volunteer trip that took place just before Easter.  After learning Antigua holds the largest Easter celebration in the world which commemorates the Passion, the Crucifix and the Resurrection of Jesus, I extended my trip five days in order to see the elaborate carpets and processions.

The festivities come from an Andalusian tradition brought over by the Spanish missionaries in the 16th Century.  While processions take place every Sunday of lent, the majority of the activities take place from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday during Semana Santa (Holy Week). Continue reading “World’s Largest Easter Celebration”

Two Days at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Transportation to Lake Atitlán

After working on the Bottle School, I spent the night in Antigua before getting transportation to Lake Atitlán.  I was in Guatemala for the busiest season at Easter, but I was able to get transportation easily with the help of my hotel, La Casa del Mundo, located between the towns of El Jaibalito and Santa Cruz La Laguna on the edge of the lake.  If they couldn’t have helped me, the hotel in which I was staying in Antigua, Hotel San Jorge, would have helped me. It seems to be common for each hotel to offer excursions and transportation.  I was a little concerned about not reserving a space in advance, but it didn’t seem to be a problem, at least not for one person. Continue reading “Two Days at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala”

Visiting Chwa Nima Ab’aj also known as the Ruins of Mixco Viejo

The Cemetery in San Martín Jilotepeque

We started today by touring the cemetery next door to our hotel in San Martín Jilotepeque.  Graves dated back to the 1800’s.  I love all the colors of the mausoleums.  Mausoleums painted in colors entomb Mayans, while those painted in all white, entomb Catholic.  A combination of white and color constitutes a grave for a mixed person.  There were quite a few colored graves in this community, home to 87% indigenous people. Continue reading “Visiting Chwa Nima Ab’aj also known as the Ruins of Mixco Viejo”

Building a Bottle School in Los Potrerillos (Day 2)

Hotel Posada de Don José in San Martín Jilotepeque

We were so busy and had such a long day yesterday that today was the first day we could hardly even check out the hotel or see San Martín Jilotepeque.  The Hotel Posada de Don José in San Martín Jilotepeque was suitable for the area.  The outside was nicely painted and adorned with flower boxes.  The two floors of hotel rooms lined either side of an indoor driveway where the hotel owners parked their cars. Continue reading “Building a Bottle School in Los Potrerillos (Day 2)”