I'm going to write a quick one today since I uploaded a lot of photos of the past couple of days today and I'm tired.
Today, we visited Antigua and Iximche. Antigua is a historic city that originated as a Spanish colony and stronghold. There are many ruins of churches and other buildings there and it is quite a beautiful city. Eliska and Jenise had to work, so they stayed at a coffee shop with wifi and let us tour around on our own. The five of us walked all over the city looking at ruins and went up to the top of a hill where a huge cross overlooks the city (see pictures). It is a very popular place to visit since it is so beautiful, but that also means it's more expensive, which means I didn't buy many gifts there other than a couple post cards. I'm happy we were able to go but I wish we could have had just a little more time because I wanted to go inside one of the convents there.
On the drive back, we stopped at Iximche. Iximche was once the capital of one of the Mayan tribes in the region and now it is in ruin. It is quite an expansive area and it is all covered with grass (see pictures). I sat down on top of a medium sized ruin in the far corner and looked out quietly for a while, imagining what it was like when Iximche was alive. I'm very excited to see Tikal since it is in better shape and much larger, especially since these ruins were already impressive.
As a field ecologist you can never have a complete free day off, so when we got home we had to count coliform colonies on test plates from the first day of the misocosm water experiment. It was crazy because even at 11 times dilution there were still on average 120 coliform colonies on each one, meaning in 1 ml of water there are around 1200 coliform bacteria! This is small compared to day zero, where there was over 8000 coliform bacteria in one milliliter! Keep in mind the water these samples were taken from is the TREATED water from the waste water treatment plant that goes straight INTO the lake! Some of this water is used to irrigate a small soccer field that the young children of the pueblo play on. Eliska told us that Ricardo has even seen some kids drink out of the water that ponds up and doesn't absorb through the ground. I really hope that new ways to treat and get rid of the water will be integrated into the Atitlan watershed because things like this are unacceptable.