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Mexico & Guatemala
January 2004
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Kukulcan (aka El Castillo, or The Castle), the main pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico. This dates from the Mayan Classical Period, probably sometime before 800 A.D.
Templo de los Guerreros (Temple of the Warriors), built circa 1000 A.D.
The Pyramid of the Magician, Uxmal, Mexico, south of Merida, dating from 700 A.D. to 900 A.D.
The steps on the face of the Pyramid of the Magician, Uxmal.
The Temple of the Inscriptions, Palenque, Mexico, surrounded by the rain forest of the lower reaches of the Chiapas Highlands.
The main square and market in San Juan Chamula, a Mayan village in the Chiapas Highlands. The Mayans have blended Catholicism and their own traditional beliefs. Inside the church, thousands of candles are set on the floor among pine needles, the incense is thick, and there are groups of Mayans praying and making offerings of alcohol, Coca-Cola, eggs, and live chickens. The chickens don't stay live for long, however, once their necks have been wrung. An unforgettable spectacle.
The main cathedral in San Cristobal de las Casas, in the Chiapas Highlands.
The local market in San Pedro, Guatemala, on the shores of Lake Atitlan.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, and two of the three volcanoes that loom somewhat menacingly above the lake.
The pig market in Chichicastenango, in the Guatemalan Highlands.
The primary form of public transportation in Guatemala is the "chicken bus," a somewhat decrepit U.S. or Canadian schoolbus, usually repainted in bright colors. They are usually packed to the gills with people, and the racks on top are often overflowing with bags of god-knows-what. The drivers know absolutely no fear, and careen along winding mountain roads at a breakneck pace. Great fun.
The municipal building on the main square in Antigua, Guatemala. Antigua was the capital until late in the 18th Century, when repeated earthquakes prompted the government to move the capital to Guatemala City.
A typical street scene in Antigua, with the Volcán de Agua in the background.
Behind the market in Antigua is what appears to be "Chicken Bus Central."
Striking a bargain in the local food market in Antigua.
The ornate facade of La Merced church in Antigua.
The main cathedral facing the Parque Central in Antigua, with a horse-drawn carriage waiting for a fare.
Flores, Guatemala, situated on an island in Lake Peten Itza. The locals use these "barques" to get to the various little settlements along the shores of the lake.
Donna makes friends with a group of semi-tame coatimundis. One suspects that they're accustomed to being fed by touristas.
Temple V, part of the Tikal complex. The wooden staircase on the left was not for the faint of heart - it was on the border between "stairs" and "ladder."
A view of the main ceremonial center of Tikal, seen from the top of Temple V. In the center is Temple I, and Temple II is on the far left. The center of the city, about six square miles, was home to 10,000 people, and contains over 3000 mapped structures.
One of the smaller pyramids in the Tikal complex.
Temple I, the largest structure in Tikal.
One man's morning commute on Lake Peten Itza.
For obvious reasons, swimming in Lake Coba is not a good idea.
The nicely reconstructed Juego de Pelota, or ball court, at Coba.
Nohoch Mul, the largest pyramid at Coba.
The beach at Tulum, south of Playa del Carmen. The clifftop ruins at Tulum date from the late post-Classic period in Mayan history, about the 15th Century.
The ruins at Tulum, along the Mayan Riviera.