January 6, 2000

Alex Simon’s Essay on Guatemala – Dec. 20, 1999 – Jan. 6, 2000

Guatemala was very interesting, from the market in Chichicastenango to the ruins of Tikal. The scariest place of all was Chichi but part of the reason was it was Christmas Eve and there were a lot of firecrackers popping next to my feet. At midnight everyone explodes thousands of firecrackers in the streets. What was really interesting was the guards outside all of the banks and stores of even the most remote places. They were holding big shotguns. There was only one place in Guatemala that had wildlife. That place was Tikal. I saw one spider monkey there. I also saw tons of coatis and some birds like Black Vultures and Collared Aracaris. Tikal was a city that Mayan people lived in a long time ago. Archaelogists think the Mayans painted the whole city red. The roads in Guatemala were better than Costa Rica. I did not like Santiago Atitlan which is a place where there is an inactive volcano. There is a lake that used to be a volcano until the volcano blew itself up and all that was left was a big crater which somehow filled with water. We were there for New Years. On New Years Eve we had a fifteen course Chinese meal made by a Jewish guy from Philadelphia who now lives in Antigua. I got to the tenth course when I decided to stop. By then it was about ten so I decided to stay up until midnight. I went back to the house we were staying at which had lizards on the walls. I went upstairs and played cards with my mom and sister and then we woke up my Dad and little brother to say Happy New Year!

Katie Simon’s Essay on Guatemala – Dec. 20, 1999 – Jan. 6, 2000

I went to Guatemala and I drove to Antigua. We stayed in Quinta des las Flores. It was really pretty. It had flowers and fountains and we had our own house with a sleeping loft. The first thing we did was take a walk to the plaza and the market. Ben got a toy cellphone. My mom wanted to get a nativity scene made out of clay and painted. We set it up in the shelf and put candles all around it. I made the dinner with Mom. We bought the food at the market. The next place we went was Chichi. We stayed at the Mayan Inn. I got carsick going there because the roads were twisty, turny, windy and we stopped two times. The Inn was really fun. There were scarlet macaws and parakeets and the food was really good. On Christmas, Alex me and Ben did a play. It was called “The Christmas Puppy”. Alex dressed up in my Dad’s red long underwear and put a pillow for his stomach to be Santa. And I dressed up in a Guipiles (embroidered woven blouse) to be an angel. Ben was a doggy. We thought Santa wouldn’t come but he did and brought a lot of stuff. I got a camera and radio and an art kit. A lot of the kids in the market would follow me around and shout, “Monkey, monkey, monkey (in English)!” because they saw me carrying my stuffed animal Monkey around and I taught one of them how to say it in English. My dad bargains a lot in the market. My mom bought a lot of Guipiles and I liked the wooden figures and the fabric. The fabric was handwoven and a lot of colors. On Christmas there were a lot of firecrackers. Then I went to Tikal. It is a reserved national park of ruins. The first day I saw a howler monkey and then we went to the ruins. I climbed the tallest one that you can climb. I also went into a tunnel and saw a face carved in stone. The face looked like a Mexican warrior with a lot of earrings. Before you went into the tunnel, you see a face where they did sacrifices and there was a pool where the blood went. Next we went to Santiago Atitlan. We rented a house for two days. It was not a very good house because it was broken down and there lizards on the walls. I found a caterpillar and kept him for a pet and fed him the leaves he liked and then I let him go. We ate a 15 course Chinese food dinner for New Years Eve. It took 3 hours to finish. It was really good. We went to all the mountain towns. In San Pedro we went horse back riding. It was the first time Alex liked it. My biggest memory of Guatemala will be climbing up the ruins in Tikal and the market in Chichicastenango.

Ben Simon’s Essay on Guatemala – Dec. 20, 1999 – Jan. 6, 2000

I cannot say what my favorite things is about Guatemala because I have a lot of favorite things. One was the masks I saw in the market. Some of them looked like people and some looked like animals. We bought the little animals that we shipped home to give to my classmates. The jaguar was my favorite one. There were a lot of firecrackers on Christmas Eve and my sister and brother and me were scared of them. I fell asleep and my Dad carried me home to bed when we followed some people holding statues of a lady and a man. I was worried about Santa. We thought he wouldn’t come. Guess what! He did. I got a car set and one hot wheel and a pirate set. Santa left a letter that told my Mom and Dad to get me a Gameboy. Another one of my favorite things was climbing up the steps in Tikal. They were big, big, big and we stayed in Jungle Lodge. Then we went to Atitlan. It is a volcano with a lake. There were people washing clothes and washing themselves. They were carrying water in jugs on their heads. It looked hard to do. So far I like the whole trip. That’s all. The End.