Santo Tomas de Castilla/Quirigua

Feb 20, 2018 - National Geographic Quest

We had an early wake-up call when we docked at Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala. After disembarking National Geographic Quest, we boarded small boats accompanied by local Guatemalan guides. The waters of the Atlantic Ocean were surprisingly calm as we made our way towards Livingston, a town only accessible by boat but full of Garifuna culture.  On the river, we enjoyed cruising through the mangroves, bird watching, and getting a glimpse into local fishing culture. At the end of the Rio Dulce, we were able to visit San Felipe of Lara Castle at the mouth of lago Izabal. A spectacular morning!

As the midday sun started to wear on us, we stopped at a beautiful riverside restaurant to dine! We refueled on local dishes and, of course, local beer. Mmmm, Gallo! After lunch we eagerly made our way to Quirigua-our first taste of Maya culture!

We wandered amongst the stellae and learned to interpret the ancient markings from our guides. These intricately carved stellae are currently the largest found in the Mayan world. We were able to see the ruins of the acropolis, palace, ball court, and Great Plaza. We took some moments of silence on the Acropolis to imagine lives of the past. We tried to picture the buildings fully constructed and rulers with decorative headpieces. It was great to have such a drastically different day than our day in the water in Belize yesterday. We look forward to what tomorrow holds!

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About the Author

Shaylyn Potter

Undersea Specialist

Shaylyn was born and raised in small-town Oregon, which she credits for her unwavering love and respect for the natural world. Her passion for the outdoors and exploration began at a young age, and she spent her childhood taking full advantage of what Oregon had to offer—waterskiing, snowboarding, hiking, and camping.

About the Videographer

James Biscardi

Video Chronicler

James Biscardi is a young, ambitious professional photographer and videographer. He is always on the lookout for the next big adventure and “telling the story” through film.

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