Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

Tour of San Felipe Castle, Guatemala

Thursday, July 13th, 2017


After our Río Dulce boat ride, we walked up to the beautiful San Felipe Castle in Guatemala. If I had known that there was a real Spaniard castle from the 1500’s just a few hours from where I grew up, I would have gone as a child. My parents thought it was just a fort with one room, but as you can see from the video tour, there were lots of rooms, complete with a kitchen and dining room, bedrooms, a chapel, a courtyard, and a dungeon. There were many towers to look out over the river.

Video Tour of the San Felipe Castle

The day that we toured the castle was sunny with clear blue skies. Although it was sweltering hot, the beauty of the castle was a delight. I have always loved castles, and this was no exception. I found myself going in and out of various rooms and corridors, losing myself in the time period of the colonization of Guatemala by the Spaniards.


Inside the castle was a large kitchen complete with fireplace to cook whatever wild fowl the hunters found in the river. The area was also lush with banana and coconut trees, so those foods must have been incorporated into their diet as well. I love the look of the Spaniard yellowish-stone walls both inside and outside the castle.


I walked both upstairs and downstairs in this castle, as there were many rooms. It wasn’t just a functional fort for soldiers. It was a fully livable home for that time period, with plenty of space for servants. There was a barracks for soldiers, and the fact that there was a dungeon for enemies with individual cells for solitary confinement was creepy.


Cannons decorate the outside of this castle, not only on the top of the castle, but on the grass at the base of the castle, facing out toward the river. Since the castle is situated on the Río Dulce River, it is protected on three sides by the water itself, and the top of the castle gives a commanding view of the area to prevent any attacks.


I love the picture of my family taken at the San Felipe Castle:


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Hot Air Balloon Over England

Monday, May 31st, 2010

hot-air-balloonWhen I was a child in boarding school in Guatemala, the boys decided to make a hot air balloon every year. They made it out of colorful tissue paper, which they glued together like a patchwork quilt. The boys lit a fire outside on the barbecue grill, and they held that balloon over the smoke. Slowly, the balloon would fill up. Then the boys would release it into the air, and it rose like magic, floating across the sky.

This was the only time we were allowed to run off the property (aside from the hikes on Saturdays), but, oh, how fun it was to run like crazy, over the hills and creeks, with our eyes lifted up toward the sky. I’m sure I stumbled a few times, not paying attention to where I was setting my feet as I ran. Thank goodness my best friend was with me, because I would have had a terrible time trying to get back. (I have no sense of direction; I never have.)

hot-air-balloon-2So when I had the opportunity to go on a real hot air balloon when I lived in England ten years later, I jumped at that opportunity. What better friend to go on my adventure than my very same friend from boarding school. Plus, my boyfriend Alan (now my husband) wanted to come with us. So I booked the flight. It would take off over the Lake District in England, one of my very favorite places in the whole world (and I’ve seen a lot of the world.) We were right in the middle of England, in a place that poets like Wordsworth and Coleridge found inspiring, and for good reason.

At the crack of dawn we headed over to where the balloon was being filled. Fog rolled over the green countryside. The balloon took quite a while to fill up as we shivered in the cool spring air, looking at the sun coming up over the horizon.

hot-air-balloon-3We finally stepped into the basket, a sturdy basket with something in the center that creates fire. One of the balloon owners stayed on the ground and would be following us in his pickup truck. Up we went, up, up, up…

The soft breeze carried us the opposite direction from the lakes, but it was still beautiful. We could see the lakes disappearing in the distance, and the hills looked so much smaller from way up here. Those hills and mountains always looked like shaggy monsters who were fast asleep. I loved those Lake District mountains almost more than the Swiss Alps, but not quite, since there is a majesty and splendor about the Swiss Alps that is lacking in the humbler Lake District.

Suddenly the fire was turned off. At that moment, we were suspended, in complete silence, in the sky. It was a beautiful, lovely feeling… definitely magical. I looked over at the little thatched cottages and half-timbered houses… I was in a storybook. I was happy. And I got to share it with my two favorite people in the whole world.

It was funny, watching the tiny pickup truck, winding around the roads, trying to keep up with us. The fire went on and off at regular intervals. Finally the balloon flight was coming to an end. We began to descend. We saw a group of cows moving their heads in unison as we descended.

cowsSuddenly we bumped onto the ground – Thud! My friend was squashing me, and I was squashing Alan, and we were all laughing with our heads on the dirt. The basket had fallen sideways, dumping us out, and, lo and behold, we had landed in a cow field. The cows (and bulls) were charging towards us. It looked so hilarious from the ground, to see those upside-down cows galloping towards us, but we finally managed to get up. The cows continued to rush towards our hot air balloon, and in a moment of wild bravery (and a wish not to be trampled), I rushed headlong into the galloping cows, screaming and waving my arms frantically.

That seemed to do it. They stopped. I turned around and walked back to the balloon, with everyone laughing at me. We packed up the balloon and went home. It was a morning to remember.

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