Learning about politics while in Xela Guatemala

Filed under: Blog — Anja Mondragon at 7:31 am on Friday, June 29, 2012  Tagged , , , ,

Quetzaltenango, or Xela, means home of the quetzales.  A small valley in southern Guatemala hosts this little town and the PLQ school.  They not offer language courses but also provide a full history of Guatemala including the horrific armed conflict.  It is hard to imagine that only 30 years ago Guatemala was in a dire state.  During my time here we  talked about the continued strength of the people and were reminded of this in the midst of beautiful songs our teachers played for our graduation.

My first host family was absolutely amazing and I loved being a part of their lives.  They truly welcomed me into their home and treated me so well.  The best part of the experience was living in their shoes and of course their kindness.  I can’t wait to return and see how the two young boys Jeremy and Javiercito have grown.  I will keep in touch with Norma and Josefina as they are some of the most amazing people I have met.

Las Mayas de Tikal y playas de Flores

Filed under: Blog — Anja Mondragon at 12:17 am on Wednesday, June 20, 2012  Tagged , , ,

Over 52 structures stand in Tikal, Guatemala.  However, they are hidden in the massive ever growing forests.  They say that it took over 20 years to build a single structure in Tikal and that it takes about the same time to clear the forest from the Maya pyramids.  Even after 100 years they become covered again!  I can only imagine how lively Tikal must have been in its heyday, yet today its quiet and so calm that you can hear the parrots and toucans quarreling and the howler monkeys even during their siestas.


After touring Tikal, I stayed in Flores, a beautiful little island less than an hour away.  It sits on an island on a small lake outside of Santa Elena.  I went with a few travelers on a 20 minute boat ride over to a small beach for an amazing lake swim.  After hiking around in the heat for three days, it was one of the most amazing and refreshing swimming experiences!

Iguanas, Cenotes and Mayan Pyramids

Filed under: Blog — Anja Mondragon at 10:34 pm on Tuesday, June 12, 2012  Tagged , , ,

The tourist in me decided to go to Chichen Itza but the detective in me decided to find out the truth about the end of the world prophesy.  What I found was that the future as well as the past is still unknown.


The Mayans had an astonishing level of sophistication during their prime.  A high knowledge of astrology and an acceptance that Galileo could not accomplish during his lifetime.


There are a number of cenotes found in this region of the world, to the right is an iguana posing in front of a large cenote within Chichen Itza.  These large pits occur from deterioration of rock and at times provided access to water when water was scarce at the surface.


It is hard not to be immersed in Mayan culture and mystery while in this part of the world.  The Mayans not only left these enormous ruins they left the question of why this mecca was completely abandoned.

¡Bienvenido a México!

Filed under: Blog — Anja Mondragon at 10:18 pm on Sunday, June 10, 2012  Tagged , ,

Welcome to the Yucatan!  It is amazing to be landed in this part of the world and yet I seam to be finding so many similarities to home.  Cancún is a rich city with delicious food, dancing and a year-round spring break crowd.  Sorry to say I have already left and am now in Mérida a post-colonial city that offers horse driven carriage rides and spontaneous theatrical shows in the park.


The hostel I’m staying at, Normadas, so far is treating me well.  A cool pool and hammocks gallor have been the best medicine to rejuvenate.  Now I can plan the rest of my trip and make my way south through Guatemala to Belize.


Tobacco Caye awaits

Filed under: Blog — Anja Mondragon at 12:14 am on Saturday, May 19, 2012  Tagged , ,

I’m heading to Belize this Summer as a part of the Center for the Blue Economy fellowship program.  I will be working with the Tobacco Caye Marine Station on coral reef conservation issues.  Stay tuned I will update this blog with my travels shortly.

Getting ready to leave!

Filed under: Blog — Anja Mondragon at 11:16 pm on Friday, May 18, 2012  Tagged , ,

While I’m imagining that this is what it will be like in Belize, I’m guessing that there will be a lot more work and less play than I’m expecting.

So what should pack as I plan to travel through Central America for the next three months?  Perhaps only a few sets of clothing and a laptop?  I’m still not quite positive!

The plan to land in Cancun the second week in June, head to Guatemala for a week or so and then head to Belize City to spend the next three weeks on the small island of Tobacco Caye with about 25 Belizeans and 4 project members.  We will be meeting a number of government officials, business owners, researchers and community members as we learn about this area and how it will be changing as it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

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