College Guatemala - January 2021 - Day 7
For our last day in Guatemala, we had a bit of a slow start. Since the schedule was not so rigid as the rest of the week, we slept in an extra hour and didn’t leave until midmorning, destination: Mayan ruins. The drive was longer than previous, and the sun decided to rest as well, and hide behind a thick layer of rainclouds.
Upon arrival to the Mayan ruins, more than half the team needed a quick potty break, but we gathered ourselves and were well on our way into the ancient city. Alex, the not-tour-guide, led us through a trip of his Mayan, more specifically, Kaqchical, culture. We learned about the traditional ball game that was played amongst the powerful families, oftentimes resulting in a team being sacrificed to the deities the Mayans worshipped in other Mayan cities, this one not so much. Alex showed us the mathematical accuracy of the Mayans’ building construction and explained that the temples in each plaza were built with specific directions and rituals in mind. For example, one built in the east for the sunrise and one in the west for sunset. Candles were often burnt as well, the color of the wax representing something in relation to ‘Mother Earth.’ The plazas we explored would have belonged to the families of power in the city and took maybe 40 years to be built by slaves (prisoners of war). The final plaza had been turned into a modern temple where fire rituals are still performed; it looked as if one was finishing up right as we arrived. The volcanic rock each ruin was built with was singed black from these rituals, but the backdrop of the cliff behind was beautiful. We also learned today about how these Mayan rituals merged with the Catholic church for many of the Kaqchicales people in different areas of the country, and the power it still holds over many people.
Following the ruins we got lunch at Pueblo Real, and following a rather exciting lunch break, we made our way to Antigua. There we explored the market, purchasing many of the tourist-y items there, including mugs, woven napkins, and jewelry. The market buzzed with people and vendors, but because of our late arrival, we only got a short time to take it all in. Once the market was closed, we walked to the main square and then to the famous yellow arch. We took pictures and enjoyed each other’s company before coming back to Guatemala City for dinner.
Dinner was bittersweet as we reflected about the trip and got last bits of conversation in before having to say goodbye and turn in for the night. As we wind down, pack, and fall asleep, it is evident that our eventful week has both exhausted and fulfilled us, so we look forward to finally coming home, but will forever cherish and remember the time spent in Guatemala.