For several years now, Mont Wolley has taken Morgan friends and family on some incredible Church of Latter-day Saint history tours. Each year he says it is the last time, and each year someone convinces him to do just one more.
This year’s tour took the group to Guatemala. After some flight delays, the group consisting of 37 members finally arrived at the Guatemalan airport. From there the group took a bus ride to Casa Santo Domingo, a five-star hotel. In colonial times, this hotel was a humble monastery.
“This was a unique hotel experience unlike anything we have experienced before,” said Wolley.
The second day began with a visit to a jade factory where the group was educated on the finding and processing of jade and its importance in the Mayan culture. Their journey then took them to a Mayan village named San Antonio, where they learned the art of weaving. Different weaving patterns identify each of the Mayan tribes. Many of the women in the group were so impressed with these textiles, they took several home.
Friday, June 21 began with a temple session in the beautiful Guatemala LDS temple. That afternoon they were able to visit a relief map of Guatemala where the group could get a good life-size visual of the places they would be traveling on the tour.
The next stop was a Mayan ruin dated to around 575 B.C., a Book of Mormon time period ruin that the archaeologists call “Kaminaljuyu.” Many scholars consider this to be the city of Nephi. The bus took the group from there to the Beautiful Lake Atitlan, the proposed site of the waters of Mormon. Hotel Atitlan housed the group for two days.
“The gardens at this hotel are breathtaking. They are filled with macaws, golden pheasants and even a white peacock strutting around amongst the flowers,” commented Wolley.
Some of the more adventurous members of the group took this opportunity to try out the zip line located in the mountainous area around the lake.
The second day in this location began with a boat ride across the lake to a Mayan village where many took the opportunity to purchase handmade items sold by local Mayans adorned in their colorful native attire.
Each day was filled with new places and insights into the ancient people that lived in this part of the world.
As the group entered the rain forest, the jungle life was exciting as always. There were monkeys, deer, wild turkeys, colorful birds, coatlmundies, alligators and so much more. The group stayed on an island accessible only by boat. There they stayed in individual bungalows on stilts over the Rio Dulci.
The ruins of Copan, Tikal and Quirigua were spectacular, all located in a magnificent rainforest with monkeys overhead.
The following hotel was the Villa Maya in the middle of the jingle where the group was able to feed alligators just 50 feet from their restaurant. Geckos lined the walls of the restaurant, keeping the group free from flies and bugs.
A farewell dinner was enjoyed in the hotel’s banquet room after a long ride from the Mayan lowlands. The final stop on the tour was an archeological museum in Guatemala City.
“The things we saw, the experiences we had, the friends we made will last a lifetime,” beamed Wolley.