Posts Tagged ‘Iximche ruins’

Trip to Comalapa and fireworks on the calle

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

We made our annual pilgrimage to the Comalapa studio of painter Oscar Peren, visited the ruins at Iximche, and ate hand-made tortillas at Chichoy. One night in Antigua, we heard fireworks that sounded as close as our front door and when we ran outside, discovered they were. We’re home in California now, but Guatemala still feels close.


The ruins at Iximche 2015

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

On the way to Lake Atitlan, our group of 12 stopped to visit the ruins of Iximche, in a field on the outskirts of Tecpan. The ruins are not nearly as spectacular as the ones at Tikal–which I visited in 2003–yet the place is infused with a compelling grandeur. The air itself feels sacred, maybe because at the very end of the ruins is a ceremonial space still used by practicing Mayan shamans. The morning we were there, we saw three different groups gathered around fires in prayer, performing rituals that incorporated flowers, chocolate, honey, herbs, rice, corn, and alcohol.

While the 6 kids in our group explored the ruins by climbing and jumping, we adults hired an English-speaking guide. The guide informed us that Iximche was founded around 1470 by the Kakchikel Maya after they broke with the larger, dominant group, the K’iche. Soon after, Spanish conquistadors arrived and in a move known as “divide and conquer,” allied themselves with the Kakchikel, vanquishing the K’iche and other native, highland peoples. The introduction of smallpox from Europe contributed to the conquistadors’ success by decimating thousands. The Spanish declared Iximche the first capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala, but the town’s supremacy was short-lived. By 1524, the Kakchikel abandoned their one-time home after the Spanish demanded of their former allies excessive tariffs.

During the tour, our guide  pointed out the ball court and the temples to the Sun and the Moon. He also told us the reason why pyramid steps seem, to our modern feet, unnaturally narrow: The ancient Maya never turned their backs to the sun. One way they kept proper orientation was by climbing steps sideways.

The admission fee to Iximche is 50Q for adults, about $6. The restrooms are clean; bring your own snacks and drinking water.  At the ruins’ entrance, a quote from the Kakchikel Chronicles reads: “Do not forget the stories of our elders, of our forefathers.”

A trip to Iximche will help you remember.

Photo credit: Peg Beasley






Guatemala in February 2011

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

We’ve been here only two full days, but it feels like a week. So much happens. There’s so much to process. At some point, I want to talk about visiting with Olivia’s birth family because I sense that so many readers of this blog are interested in the subject—either because they visit their children’s birth families, too, or because it’s something they may consider in the future.  But to be honest, the experience is so intense, I’m not sure how to frame it. Not only because I’m sensitive to the family’s privacy, and to Olivia’s, but also because every visit is so emotional—happy and sad, intensely so, both, sometimes in the same moment.

It’s now 10:30 at night on Sunday, and thank goodness for Spanish-language Discovery Kids on PBS. Olivia and Patrice are brushing up on their Spanish with Chica Super-Sabia, Lazy Town, and Mister Maker while I write this. We’re all exhausted.

So I thought I would post some photos from the start of our trip. The new La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City—if you haven’t been back since 2004, you’d be amazed. The airport is finished, and it is beautiful. The photo at the top is of Olivia at the brand-spanking new luggage carousel. The photo below is of us at breakfast at the Camino Real with my sister and ace traveling companion, Tia Patrice.

Here we are in the lobby. The porter behind us has known Olivia since she was a baby.

I took the last photo on the road to Panajachel. A pit-stop in Tecpan at Katok is a must, even if you don’t take a detour to view the ruins at Iximche (and please do so if given the opportunity).  The photo here doesn’t do the place justice—you can’t smell the fragrant woodsmoke, or taste the delicious homemade pan integral and fresh berry jam. I wish you could.

Thanks for reading. Time to get some sleep. xoxo