Posts Tagged ‘Guatemala’



What a great way to end our day and last evening here in Guatemala. After saying our goodbyes to our great friends Lori and Timothy Sunday in Guatemala City we hit the road headed towards the border with Honduras. We’ll be crossing over tomorrow and are looking forward to seeing Daniel and Dorothy Kent in Copan Ruins.

Meanwhile we got off the road early to find a campsite and settle in for the night. Originally our plan was to stay at a campground on the road that takes us straight into Honduras. However, Scott told us he thought he may have found something better not far away from our original pick and it was far enough off the road not to hear any traffic.

Well, here we are and in awe of such a wonderful place. Can you believe it’s only $8.00 a night with electric, wifi, bathroom and showers. Pool is extra and the farm animals are priceless. But don’t take my words for it. Check our these pictures.



Story and photos by Scott Woodhams

Wow! What an amazing day! We spent the day working with an organization (Guatemala house), that we have had the privilege to be with before in Guatemala. This morning started with building rebar ladders for the foundation of a new bathroom, for a single mom. She lives in a village between Antigua,and Guatemala City.
Then the fun began! This afternoon was feeding about 80 kids, VBS, and plain outright horse playing. The kids warmed up to us quickly. I think the horseback rides and “slaps” games won them over.
Bernard and I were flat worn out after giving countless rides on our backs, galloping around the room,while the other kids hung on us, waiting their turn.
Then was time for the singing, with full body motion,further wearing us out! After that? Football! (Soccer)
Angela immediately made a new friend, and they were inseperable. Tammy played and danced with the kids too!
It was an exhausting day, but so much fun Interacting with the kids,and seeing them being exposed to a Christian atmosphere.
This is such a loving organization, that truly cares for the villages and people they work with.




Story by Scott Woodhams

Photo’s by Bernard Barbour

One thing I love about traveling, is spontaneity. If you allow yourself to veer off course and explore the unknown, it is common to be pleasantly surprised at what you find. Yesterday, was another one of those incidences. We had heard about a Castillo (castle) near where we were staying, overlooking the water in Rio Dulce. We drove through some narrow streets, past curious locals, until we found a place to park the trucks.
We walked the grounds, admiring the beauty of the trees, flowers, and views of the water. Fisherman slowly trolled by with their nets loaded down. The first appearance of the castle, didn’t seem overly impressive. It was a massive Stone walled complex. As we approached, though, it was surprising to see the draw bridge and mote leading into the wall.

The architecture was intriguing. I loved the arched doorways, and maze like floor plan. Each room led to another series of rooms, until we reached some stairs that led to the terrace.
From there the views were stunning, with the breeze blowing, sunshine beaming. What a place this must have been in it’s heyday (1600s). We spent an hour or 2 exploring, glad that we ventured off our route to see what was around us.

The Castillo de San Felipe de Lara (often referred to simply as the Castillo de San Felipe) is a Spanish colonial fort at the entrance to Lake Izabal in eastern Guatemala. Lake Izabal is connected with the Caribbean Sea via the Dulce River and El Golfete lake. The fort was strategically situated at the narrowest point on the river. The Castillo de San Felipe was used by the Spanish for several centuries, during which time it was destroyed and looted several times by pirates.


After driving thru a severe storm since the border crossing with Belize, we finally made it to Ixpampajul. Setting up camp was a muddy soggy experience. I actually had to put the truck in four wheel drive, because the ground was so soft or risk getting stuck. Finally done, we went for a quick walk to check out the grounds. “Beautiful” Tammy exclaimed, as we strolled though the park quietly with wild horses watching our every move. “Lets get low” I told Tammy. We squated as too make ourselves less of a threat, hoping the wild horses would come near us. As they approached,  slowly I pulled out the camera to take a picture. Hoping the flash would not scare them away, I fired. Surprisingly they just stared on.



Having had that little night adventure, we retired to bed.

Early, and I do mean early, just before the sun came up, we heard the sounds of Howler Monkeys off in the distance. We had bought a few bananas as bait, hoping to lure them near the truck and get pictures. But no chance, as they seemed to keep their distance. Having a breakfast bar and a lot of water to drink we though we’d take a quick hike around the park. That turned out to be adventure we had not expected. On the park map showed a trail, it said “not to strenuous”. Two hours later “What were we thinking?” Angela blurted out! We were all thinking the same thing about then as we had climbed several hundred feet in elevation and crossed several huge swinging bridges high about the jungle floor. Finally we reached the top and where treated to a wonderful view, in which we could clearly see Flores far off in the distance. After a bit of relaxing at a refugio camp, we headed back down.



Time to take an early morning nap for me. Meanwhile, Tammy took a shower. Later, she woke me from my slumber “Angela and Scott are ready” she reported. Slowly I pulled myself together. Looking at the clock it was only 10:30 am. Thinking about my Army days “We get more done before 9 am” I chuckled to myself. Packed and ready to roll, we pulled out and headed toward Flores for groceries, the ATM and our favorite, McDonalds. Why McDonalds you ask? For the Wifi of course. Thanks for following, sharing and liking our page. More adventures to follow, we assure you.


Our border crossing into Guatemala went as expected. Leaving Belize we were approached by the money exchangers. “ Quetzales, Quetzales, Quetzales” they shouted to get our attention. There is no bank or ATM at the western border between Belize and Guatemala so it’s a common practice to exchange some money with them in order to pay your temporary importation permit fee and fumigation. After a few little pleasantries, we tried to negotiate the best price for our US Dollars to get Quetzales. Fat chance, but close. So we only got enough for what we needed to do.  There is no visa or fee required otherwise.  Checking out of Belize went well. We then got back into the trucks and proceeded to Guatemala. Once crossing no mans land, the area between the two countries , we stopped at the fumigation station. After exiting the fumigation station and entering Guatemala, we parked the trucks and proceeded to immigration and then customs. We noticed that the border was over crowded with 18 wheelers loaded down with scrap metal parked all over the place haphazardly. Parking was a mad house, oh well we thought, what are we going to do, just park in there somewhere. After getting our stamps in our passports, Angela, Tammy and Scott got in line for the temporary importation paperwork while I got in another line to pay the cashier. By getting in the other long line to pay the cashier, I was hoping they would get the TIP, and I would be at the front of the cashier line and they could jump right in, therefore speeding up our process through the border. Scott promised us that he knew of an ice cream stop just in town. “We’ll stop for ice cream, as a reward for all this torture of a border crossing mess” he said with a grin. Then we’d traveled on to our final destination for the night.


About then as expected one of the fumigation workers ran up to us asking if we could move our trucks. We were blocking traffic from entering and exiting the border crossing. Imagine that! Little old us stopping up the flow of goods and services between Guatemala and Belize. Quickly we both jumped out of line, moved our trucks and resumed waiting. Soon we’d have all our paperwork finished and we were on our way.


Just up the road from the border crossing at the first traffic light, there sat a little ice cream shop. Pulling over immediately, we went in, and in our best Spanish ordered the sweet stuff.  “A double cone of pistachio nut ice cream with chocolate and sprinkled nuts.” Scott ordered in his best Spanish. Tammy and I took the easy road and just said “Mismo” meaning same order in Spanish and laughed. “Yummy” said Angela as we all nodded in agreement. To busy, all of us eating ice cream to talk. Just what we needed after a hot lengthy stay at the border.


Next it was time to get gas. Feeling a sigh of relief to see gas at $3.25 instead of $5.25 in Belize, we pulled in and filled the tanks. While getting a fill up we noticed the sky getting very dark. Just as we pulled out of the gas station a slight drizzle began. Shortly afterwards, the clouds opened up and buckets of rain poured down. “Scott” I called over the radio! “We need to take it very slow, I can hardly see back here” I said. Suddenly our speed dropped from a leisurely cruise of 50 mph down to 20. Onward we traveled barely seeing the road, yet some cars and trucks were passing us at break neck speed, splashing water up on our windshields. Making life more dangerous.


Determined to get to Ixpanpajul, a nature park that boast wild horses and sheep roaming the grounds, we drove on in the vicious storm dodging downed tress and torrential rain. About the time we arrived, the weather had almost cleared. Pulling off the road and into the gate of the nature park we saw many wild horses and sheep roaming the grounds. Just what we needed for our first night’s stay. Welcome to Guatemala.


Our Perspective

We knew before we moved to Ecuador that we were Gringos. And we have been called Gringos frequently – by store clerks, friends and even strangers on the street. I’ve gotten so used to it, I describe myself to Ecuadorians as “el Gringo” because its the easiest way to describe who I am. In a community of Ecuadorians, the term Gringo identifies me as the 6ft tall pale-faced guy.

What is a Gringo?

The term Gringo comes in a few variations

  • Gringo – for the man
  • Gringa – for the woman
  • Gringita / Gringito – for the child or the “dear little gringo”. This is a term of endearment.
  • los Gringos – the group of gringos

Online forums and blog comments are full of Americans and Canadians who are insulted at the thought of being marginalized, by being reduced to a word.

Here in Ecuador, a Gringo is anyone foreign – from any country. However, the taller and blonder you are increases the odds of being called a gringo. But the telltale give-away is when you open your mouth. Once you speak, either exclusively in English or with the distinctive English accent, you become a “Gringo”.

Something to remember: in Latin American culture, it is common, accepted and even a kindness to give people nicknames based on their physical appearance. For example:

  • Flaco (thin or skinny)
  • Gordo (fatty)
  • Gordito (little fatty)
  • Suco (fair skinned)
  • Negrita (little black)

Two years ago, while visiting Margarita Island, I was driving with a Venezuelan friend. He referred to a friend of his as “negrita” – I was shocked. I thought that it was out of bounds – that it was an international insult. But no . . . in Spanish its common term of endearment. A professional friend, a Cuencano, calls his wife “flaca”. When translated literally means “skinny woman”. In English, it doesn’t sound so nice, but in Spanish it is a sweet expression from a husband.

In Ecuador, people are often identified by where there are from:

  • Cuencano (a person from Cuenca)
  • Guayaquileño (a person from Guayaquil)
  • Quiteño (a person from Quito)

For us, being called Gringos is equivalent to being called Canadian. It simply identifies our origins. It isn’t uncommon to be walking downtown and hear two older Cuencanas say: “Mira – la gringita”, referring to our daughter. They say it with all the love and interest that her own grandmother would. To us, it is a very kind.


What Are the Alternatives to “Gringo”?

While most people from the United States consider themselves “Americans”, this doesn’t have the same meaning here. America isn’t a country: it includes everything from Alaska to Argentina. After all, Ecuador is part of Latin America, located in South America. Technically speaking, everyone from Canada south to Patagonia is an “American”.

If you are from Canada or the United States, you may be called norteamericano (North American). At a glance, it is impossible to tell Canadians, Britians, Australians and New Zealanders apart. So just as the the diverse nationalities of Latin America have been grouped (right or wrong) under the term “Latino”, it seems that “Gringo” have come to define foreigners as a group in Latin America. Have you noticed a Gringo Superiority Complex?

What do you say? Are you offended by the term? If you are Ecuadorian, what do you say about it?

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