The One With More Pictures of Xela

Just another collection of pictures from my past week in Xela:

Zunil - a town about 30 mins from Xela

Zunil – a town about 30 mins from Xela

View from the truck ride to Fuentes Georginas

View from the truck ride to Fuentes Georginas

Steaming hot waterfall at Fuentes Georginas - the natural hot springs!

Steaming hot waterfall at Fuentes Georginas – the natural hot springs!

Fuentes Georginas - note all the steam!!

Fuentes Georginas – note all the steam!!

Xela Cemetery - Public Graves

Xela Cemetery – Public Graves

Xela Cemetery - a row of private graves

Xela Cemetery – a row of private graves

View from the highest point in Xela Cemetery - it's HUGE!

View from the highest point in Xela Cemetery – it’s HUGE!

Xela SuperChivas game!

Xela SuperChivas game!

The band at the game -- they set off fireworks from within the stands!

The band at the game — they set off fireworks from within the stands!

Just another chicken bus...

Just another chicken bus…

Lines of cages at the Xela zoo

Lines of cages at the Xela zoo

The zoo includes animals like sheep and domesticated rabbits!

The zoo includes animals like sheep and domesticated rabbits!

Touch of Greece?

Touch of Greece?

Cafe RED Murals

Cafe RED Murals

 

Cafe RED Burrito + Fresh Limeade!

More to come.

Until then,

K

The One with the Mayan Ruin

Yesterday, I was awake for 20 hours straight, a feat reminiscent of my surgery rotation. But at least this time, there was no pre-rounding, no vitals to be recorded, and no scrubbing into operations.

This time, I was waking up at 2:30 AM for this:DSCN1112

Even though it was cloudy (apparently normally, it’s also really foggy), there was something incredible about sitting at the top of a Mayan temple watching the sky change colors over the trees, with a chorus of colorful birds and howler monkeys around you. (Howler monkeys are unbelievably loud!!)

And thus began our trip to Tikal, an impressive Mayan ruin situated in northern Guatemala. If the above scene seems vaguely familiar, it’s because a similar shot is featured in Star Wars Episode IV… awesome!

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The Temple of the Grand Jaguar (R) and the Necropolis, as viewed from atop Temple II, all within the main plaza.

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Temple III, which you’re allowed to climb via steep steps that are far too high for short legs, but I climbed anyway!

Those are MY hands. Holding a tarantula. And nothing terrible happened.

Those are MY hands. Holding a tarantula. And nothing terrible happened.

These sprawling ruins are the remains of what was once the capital of a booming Mayan civilization, and features six very large temples among a collection of causeways, plazas, and the acropolis. Three restored temples may be climbed, while most other structures are closed to the public, although, shhh!: our guide let us step into one of the palaces, where we were greeted by bats!

After a long morning of exploring the ruins, we were grateful for a relaxing evening in beautiful Flores, a charming island town just an hour away from the ruins. How freaking cute is it?!

We stayed at Hotel Mirador del Lago - Viewpoint of the Lake!

We stayed at Hotel Mirador del Lago – Viewpoint of the Lake!

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Parque Central de Flores

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All of the buildings are so colorful!

Tonight, I take off for Guatemala City and will catch a morning bus up to Xela, where I’ll make my home for the next four weeks. I’m so excited to meet my host family, visit the medical clinic I’ll be working in, and start really learning Spanish!

Until then,

K

The One With the Guatemalan Paradise

I’m covered in bruises and scrapes, to the point that it even hurts to sit.

And it was SO WORTH IT. I mean, look at this place:

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Semuc Champey is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever gotten to visit, and my day here was absolutely incredible.

We climbed slippery rock steps for 40 minutes to reach this viewpoint:DSCN1039

Then we jumped, swam, and slid down waterfalls in this gorgeous water:DSCN10681

We took a tour of the Kan’ba Caves, which was simultaneously awesome and terrifying. We were provided hand-held candles for lighting and climbed down a rickety ladder into the water below. At times, we were treading water with our candle hand held high, and at other times, we were clenching the candle in our teeth as we climbed a waterfall via a rope ladder. I think the most terrifying part, however, was when we had to drop into a hole with a waterfall pouring in and no view of the other side… just lower yourself, take a breath, and drop! (No pictures, because I wasn’t risking my camera in the cave, but click here to see the Google images…)

But we ended our day of adventure with the ultimate in lazy river rides, and cruised down the river in tubes.

Easily one of the most incredible days of my life. And tomorrow, it’s on to Flores so we can visit the Mayan ruins at Tikal!

Until then,

K

The One Where I Resurfaced in Guatemala

Oh, hey.

Yes, I’ve been incredibly neglectful of this sad little blog for months, and for that, I apologize. However, turns out it takes up a lot of time to travel across the country to interview with eighteen different residency programs. But the good news is, my rank list is completed and certified, and I will hopefully be matching in (drumroll, please!) Combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics come March.

But we can talk about that later. The more exciting news is that I’m typing this from here:

Lanquin

…in beautiful Lanquin, Guatemala, a little town in the eastern portion of Guatemala well-visited by tourists because of its proximity to Semuc Champey, a gorgeous natural wonder which I’ll be visiting tomorrow.

Wait, rewind… I guess I should tell you how I got here. I enrolled to participate in a Medical Spanish course at a school at a little town up in the mountains called Xela. I’ll be there for four weeks starting this Sunday, staying with a host family, and embracing some cultural immersion to improve my Spanish, which I’m discovering needs LOTS of work. I’ve been grateful for my travel buddy who has spent two weeks here already and has a much better grasp on the language.

But for now, I’m fumbling through my Spanish and enjoying a week of tourism. I arrived in colorful Antigua on Sunday and spent the evening ambling around the beautiful town. Most of my photos, however, happen to be from early this morning… we had intended to book our bus for 2 PM today so we could enjoy a leisurely walking tour of the city, so when we discovered late last night that we’d miscommunicated and booked 8 AM, the only option was to wake up at 5:30 AM and enjoy a sunrise tour of Antigua. We weren’t disappointed:

One of Antigua's charming, colorful streets.

One of Antigua’s charming, colorful streets.

Inside the Las Capuchinas convent... because they'd left the door open at 7 AM, so we let ourselves in...

Inside the Las Capuchinas convent… because they’d left the door open at 7 AM, so we let ourselves in…

Nuestra Senora de la Merced

Nuestra Senora de la Merced

I just can't get over this archway with the mountain in the background. Gorgeous.

I just can’t get over this archway with the mountain in the background. Gorgeous.

The other highlight of my (three-day) trip thus far? Hiking Volcan de Pacaya. The ascent was PAINFUL (and my legs are still sore), but the incredible views were totally worth it!!

An incredible view...

An incredible view…

This view negated any doubt that the trip to the volcano was worth it.

This view negated any doubt that the trip to the volcano was worth it.

Some areas are so hot from the lava below that you can roast marshmallows...

Some areas are so hot from the lava below that you can roast marshmallows…

Volcan de Pacaya itself.

Volcan de Pacaya itself.

At the top of the world...

At the top of the world…

But for now, necesito practicar mi espanol! Hasta la vista!

K

The One with the 2012 Recap and 2013 Resolutions

2012 brought a lot of ups and downs for me.

I started out with heartbreak, which was pretty terrible…

Ugh.

But as cliche as it may be, it ultimately brought me closer with old and new friends, helped me sort out who my true friends are, introduced me to new hobbies, and really challenged me to grow as a person.

Yay! Sunshine and rainbows and unicorns and everything is better!

I spent months and months of the most intense studying of my life in preparation for USMLE Step 1.

 

I celebrated the end of boards with my first trip out of the country: to England, Hungary, and Spain (a trip designed to allow me to experience three totally different tastes of Europe in two short weeks).

I visited the set of Harry Potter in London!

I visited the set of Harry Potter in London!

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I explored beautiful Budapest at sunset!

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I ate traditional paella at a cute restaurant in Barcelona!

I finally began my clinical clerkships, which made all of the countless hours locked away in a study room worth it. I’m so much more excited to go to school now that I spend every day meeting new people and learning just as much from them as they learn from me. I met patients who made me laugh, who lost their lives in my care, who supported me, who taught me life lessons.

I started this blog, which now has over 2000 views in less than six short months, despite my best efforts to completely ignore it at times. (Thanks to all of you who have stuck with me!)

And now it’s 2013, and I couldn’t be more excited. In a week and a half, I will be done done DONE with surgery and rejoining life as a real person, and for the first time, I’m challenging myself to several resolutions:

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…complete with a color-coded system for keeping me honest via marks on my calendar.

Bring it, 2013.

Happy New Year, everyone!