Nicaragua, Honduras (March 14-21) Guatemala (March 21-29) 2009 Eugene D. Cizek, Ph.D., FAIA, and Mark W.

Thomas III, MPS

Field Studies in Historic Preservation – PRST 642 (3 credits) Central America - Spring Break 2009

Tulane School of Architecture

The Tulane School of Architecture has a long-standing tradition of conducting preservation field studies trips to Latin America each spring semester. In the past students have visited such destinations as Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, and Peru, and recently to non-Latin destinations such as Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The 2009 Spring Break trip will have a relatively nearby geographical focus: Central America. This program’s Latin American emphasis is an example of a commitment to an important TSA faculty-directed mission, as well as an effort to expand the international scope of the Preservation Studies Program. The diverse community that makes up New Orleans consists of people from a wide range of national and ethnic origins. The European and African components are well known, but there is a substantial Latin/Hispanic community in the city as well, a vast majority of whom are of Central American origin. For example, New Orleans has long been considered the third largest Honduran city, second to San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, respectively. Furthermore, the Central American immigrants themselves represent an astonishing range of cultural traits and traditions, such as the myriad tribes of the Maya, from Guatemala’s mountains at Chichicastenango to the jungles of El Peten, as well as the Garifuna people, who speak a unique patois of English, Spanish, African, and indigenous Miskito, all of whose progenitors inhabited the Caribbean coast of Honduras. Mestizos of Spanish Creole and indigenous heritage inhabit the cities and farmlands. In more recent centuries immigrants arrived in Central America from more northern climes; Germany, Spain, Italy, U.S., etc., and contributed to the exchange of material products and cultural knowledge. The Germans developed the coffee industry, while the Italians and Americans developed the banana industry, both representing major components of the Central American economy and political history. Both industries also had a number of very direct connections to New Orleans, which was the nearest major mainland U.S. port. Furthermore, Tulane University has very important links to the region, such as through one of the school’s major benefactors (who was in the banana business) and the university’s legacy of excellent academic work that has focused on the region. Tulane University and the School of Architecture are well known for this expertise in Latin American. The Preservation Studies Program, following tradition at TSA, places emphasis on regional architecture and landscapes, exploring the greater Gulf Coast/Caribbean Basin, particularly on the many links between New Orleans and the region at large. There are a number of interesting cultural similarities that may not at first be obvious, but are worthy of further consideration. From an architectural perspective there is the commonality of colonial tradition, as well as design adaptation of Old World building techniques and forms to tropical climates. The city that is recognized as the oldest Spanish city on the American mainland is Granada, Nicaragua, which is in the process of being designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also a WHS is Leon Viejo, consisting of ruins of the first colonial capital, which were buried in volcanic ash, thus preserving a very early relic of Spanish settlement. In Honduras, Comayagua was founded in the 1520’s, and represents perhaps the best of that nation’s colonial legacy. Guatemala’s rich colonial architectural heritage may best be experienced in Antigua, where volcanoes and earthquakes have shaped the physical form of structures as well as urban landscapes. The lowland tropics are reminiscent of the torrid humidity that permeates the Gulf Coast of Louisiana in summer, thus inspiring an architecture of generous shading and air circulation. Many of the

company towns built by these agricultural interests represent early 20th century tropical architecture, much of it having been prefabricated in Louisiana, and subsequently assembled in the tropics. Surprisingly TSA students are somewhat limited as to their options to explore non-Western architectural traditions, and this program offers an excellent opportunity to do so. Nowhere in the world is there such a concentration of Maya culture, language, and archaeological patrimony as in Guatemala. The program will allow participants to experience a variety of places, representing both the ancient culture that disintegrated prior to the arrival of Europeans, and the modern, evolving Maya, with their syncretic religious practices and idiosyncratic adaptations to the post-industrial world.

SCHEDULE AT A GLANCE
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday March 14 March 15 March 16 March 17 March 18 March 19 March 20 March 21 March 22 March 23 March 24 March 25 March 26 March 27 March 28 March 29 Travel day, Group 1, New Orleans – Managua, stay at Granada Full day in Granada Day trips out of Granada Granada to Leon Fly Managua –Tegucigalpa, bus to Comayagua Comayagua to Copan Copan to Quirigua, then Guatemala City Fly to Flores; tour of Yaxha, stay at Flores All day tour –Tikal, stay at Flores Flores to Guatemala City, stay at Atitlan Full day at Atitlan Atitlan to Quetzaltenango, stay at Chichicastenango Chichicastenango to Antigua Full day in Antigua Full day in Antigua Travel day, Guatemala City – New Orleans

(Group B joins group A)

DETAILED ITINERARY
Depart New Orleans at midday on flight to Miami for connection to Managua. After clearing customs and immigration, continue via private bus on an overland journey to Lake Nicaragua and Granada, the oldest Colonial city on the American mainland. Check into hotel at Granada, free evening for exploring the historic city center. The walking tour of this historic town visits the most outstanding monuments such as the Cathedral, Casa de los Tres Mundos, and the San Francisco Convent. (Breakfast and Lunch provided) The full-day excursion focuses on natural and cultural landscapes, beginning with a scenic drive to Masaya National Park to observe the volcanic activity of the Santiago crater and visit the natural interpretation museum. Afterwards, the group will visit the bustling Masaya Market, a great place to shop for local crafts, and then relax over lunch at a selected restaurant. After lunch, travel to the famous ‘white towns’ and stop at Catarina, known for its famous mirador with spectacular views of the Apoyo Lagoon, Granada and Lake Nicaragua. Continue on to San Juan de Oriente where there will be an opportunity to view the local community making crafts that are sold throughout Nicaragua. Back in Granada, continue on a relaxing boat excursion through the isletas, a picturesque archipelago of 365 islands. There’ll be time to refresh and relax before dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner provided)

Saturday

March 14

Travel day, New Orleans – Managua

Sunday

March 15 March 16

Full day in Granada

Monday

Day trips out of Granada

Tuesday

Check out of hotel, then travel by bus to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Leon, the original site of the colonial capital that was buried in volcanic ash. The city has been excavated and is interpreted to represent a very early period in colonial history. Continue to visit the major historic sites in the relocated city of Leon, then check into hotel. This is the intellectual capital of Nicaragua, with a university, religious colleges, the largest cathedral in Central America and several colonial churches. The group will discover the history of poet Ruben Dario at his childhood home, the Ruben Dario Museum. North of León are the Hervideros de San Jacinto, natural sulphuric hot springs fed by an underground river which is heated by the Telica volcano. (Breakfast provided)

March 17

Granada to Leon

Wednesday

Early morning check out of hotel, then transfer to airport for flight to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Upon arrival, transfer by bus to the colonial city of Comayagua, with a walking tour of the city’s principal historic sites. Check into hotel in Comayagua. (Breakfast provided) A scenic morning journey through the mountains of eastern Honduras leads to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Copán. From the 5th to 9th centuries, the Classic Era, Copán was the site of a major Mayan kingdom. The site is especially remarkable for a series of elaborately carved portrait stelae, some of the very finest examples of ancient Mesoamerican art, and a large court that was used for ball games. There will be a comprehensive guided exploration of this amazing archaeological site. Tonight, the group will overnight at an historic hotel overlooking the town’s central plaza. (Breakfast provided) Early departure across the Guatemalan border to the archaeological site of Quirigua, a small Mayan city that was founded in the Late Pre-Classic Era, and flourished until the 10th century. Though not as extensive as Copán, the site is noteworthy for nine magnificent stelae that are arranged around the central plaza, accompanied by altars elaborately carved into zoomorphic shapes. The largest stela stands more than 26 feet tall, the largest ever discovered in the Mayan world. Continue to Guatemala City and check in to hotel; free evening. (Breakfast provided)

March 18

Managua to Tegucigalpa, bus to Comayagua

Thursday

March 19

Comayagua to Copan

Friday

March 20

Copan to Quirigua, then Guatemala City

Saturday

Transfer to the Guatemala City airport for morning flight to Flores, El Petén, located in northeast Guatemala. This area represents the largest tropical forest in Central America, containing ruins, great and small, from the ancient Maya civilization. The crown jewel among the Petén’s 13,000 square miles is Tikal, a sprawling complex of more than 3,000 structures. The ruins of Ceibal, Aguateca, and Yaxha contribute to the Petén’s standing as the heartland of the Maya. Countless more ruins still lie shrouded by dense forest overgrowth in the Petén, which contains over 800 species of trees, 57 species of reptiles, and 500 species of birds. Tapirs, peccaries and jaguars still roam the emerald forests, just as they did when the ancient Maya ruled the region. Upon arrival in Flores, the group will be met by a local guide and transferred to the Camino Real Hotel for a two night stay. Camino Real Tikal is part of the Cerro Cahui natural reserve and consists of 72 bungalows overlooking Lake Petén Itza. Accommodations are in thatched bungalows, each with private balcony. In the afternoon the group will depart for tour of Yaxha, which was recently featured on the popular reality show “Survivor”. Close to Tikal, situated on the shores of a peaceful lake, is the site of the third largest known Classic Mayan site in the country. Yaxha has a twin pyramid complex, great acropolis, and more than 500 structures. Yaxha was at it its height of importance between 300 – 900 AD. Temple 216 offers a wonderful view of the lake and surrounding rainforest. Return to the hotel to refresh before Welcome Dinner for arriving students (Group B). (Breakfast, Dinner provided) After breakfast at the hotel the group meets with the local guide for transfer to the world famous Mayan temple ruins at Tikal. It is known as the “New York of the Maya World” for its spectacular temples that rise above the dense jungle canopy. The group will follow an excellent guide to explore the sprawling site, once a wealthy metropolis of 100,000 and the seat of power for the great Jaguar Clan Lords. The ruins of Tikal include more than 3,000 structures including palaces, temples, ceremonial platforms, ball courts, and large plazas, all surrounded by lush lowland rainforest. Several spectacular step pyramids tower above the forest canopy. Monkeys and exotic birds complement the scene. The group will experience the local cuisine for lunch at a local restaurant. After transfer back to the hotel, the balance of the evening is at leisure. (Breakfast, Lunch provided)

March 21

Fly to Flores, Yaxha

Sunday

March 22

All day tour – Tikal, stay at Flores

Monday

Breakfast and check out of the hotel. Transfer to the Flores airport for flight to Guatemala City. Continue on a driving and walking tour of Guatemala City, Textile Museum, and a visit to the architecture school at Universidad Francisco Marroquin; afternoon transfer to Lake Atitlan. En route to Lake Atitlan the group will visit the site of Iximche Ruins. While not as grand as the ruins seen in the Peten, such as Tikal, Iximche is historically and culturally significant. The site was one of the last Maya ruins to be built and the site briefly served as the first capital of colonial Guatemala during the Spanish conquest. The site has always been of special spiritual importance to the Maya, and still today is used regularly by shaman who performs rituals at the sacred altar. Upon arrival, check in to the Hotel Atitlan for a two night stay. Lake Atitlan has been called by many “the most beautiful lake in the world”. It is indeed an amazing setting with the crystal blue waters of the lake surrounded by the three lofty peaks of Toliman, San Pedro and Atitlan Volcanoes. (Breakfast provided)

March 23

Flores to Guatemala City, Atitlan

Tuesday

After breakfast at the hotel, the group will be met by the guide for a tour of Atitlan. The group departs Lake Atitlan in local boats, crossing the lake, to Santiago Atitlan, continuing to the Village of Santiago, where one can experience the local indigenous customs, traditions, dress and crafts. The local Mayan community worship an image called Maximon, feeding him alcohol and cigarettes in an attempt to make their wishes come true. This village is also famous for its primitive art and beautiful woven “huipiles”. (Breakfast provided) Breakfast and check out of the hotel. Early this morning your guide meets you for a land transfer through the highlands, with a stop at Quetzaltenango, then on to the famous market at Chichicastenango. The group will have an opportunity to see Maya rituals being performed in the Catholic Church, a result of syncretic religious practices. Craftsmen and villagers from all over the highlands converge on this small town to sell their wares. Chichicastenango is one of the easiest places for travelers to experience the strange way that Mayan & Catholic faiths have merged in Guatemala. Check into hotel; evening at leisure. (Breakfast provided)

March 24

Atitlan

Wednesday

March 25

Atitlan to Quetzaltenango, Chichicastenango

Thursday

Upon arrival in Antigua, check into hotel for a three night stay. Antigua was one of the most significant Colonial era cities in the Americas, once home to more than 30 monastic orders that built stunning monasteries, convents and cathedrals, many in the opulent Spanish New World Baroque style. Today, these beautifully conserved buildings, some dating back more than 400 years, stand in this historic town under the shadow of three volcanoes: Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango. (Breakfast provided) After buffet breakfast, we will depart for a Walking Tour of the Colonial City Antigua, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with painstakingly restored Spanish colonial architecture, manicured parks, stylish hotels, superb international cuisine and a spectacular horizon. Nestled in a mountain valley and surrounded by evergreen forests, Antigua retains the aura of the 17th Century capital that it was, while blending modern amenities that make it an internationally appealing destination. Walking along cobblestone streets, visitors find high-end art galleries, museums, luxurious shops, and traditional markets packed to the rafters with locally made textiles and woodcrafts. Antigua boasts a wealth of architecture and history, including the Central Plaza, Palace of the Captains General and a sampling of some the finest churches and monasteries in the Americas. Of particular interest is the “Seismic Baroque” style that resulted from adaptation to frequent earthquakes. In the afternoon the group will be met outside of the hotel by a local “chicken buses” for a private transfer to San Antonio Aguas Calientes village to learn about local Guatemalan textiles. After a brief presentation by local indigenous women, the group will continue on to an authentic coffee farm for a catered lunch. (Breakfast provided) Free day in Antigua for sketching and exploring. Farewell dinner. (Breakfast and Dinner provided)

March 26

Chichicastenango to Antigua

Friday

March 27

Full day in Antigua

Saturday Sunday

March 28 March 29

Full day in Antigua

Check out of hotel for early morning transfer to Guatemala City airport. Flight to Miami, with connection to New Orleans. (Breakfast provided)

Travel day, Guatemala City – New Orleans

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