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  • High Integrity

    “Vamos Expeditions helped to shepherd 80 business school students of varying levels of fitness through multiple countries and the extreme conditions of Patagonia. They delivered a well planned and executed trip that was an experience of a lifetime. The next year Vamos helped plan an... see more

    Sandeep Chivukula
    Argentina
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Argentina > Recommended Reading

Guidebooks

Lonely Planet Belize, Guatemala & Yucatan by Ben Greensfelder et al. Lonely Planet Publications, 2001. Covers many sites visited on this tour in typical Lonely Planet style, with details on major destinations, practical information, maps, and sidebars with cultural notes.

Footprint Mexico & Central America by Peter Hutchison. Footprint Handbooks, 2003. Handy guide that covers all of Central America (including El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize) and Mexico in one portable package, reasonably compact in spite of its 1280-page comprehensiveness. Presents descriptions of Mayan sites as well as information on colonial history and contemporary culture, responsible tourism, and music. Also offers up-to-date listings for where to eat, drink, and shop; and over 100 maps of countries, regions, towns, and sites.


Natural History

Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America by Adrian Forsyth and Ken Miyata. New York: Touchstone, 1987. Written by two young field biologists, this book of seventeen essays explores the richness of the tropical forests of Central and South America.


Further Reading

Breaking the Maya Code by Michael D. Coe. Thames & Hudson, 1999. The scientific detective story of how Mayan inscriptions were deciphered to reveal the fascinating history of this ancient civilization, told with eloquence by a retired professor of anthropology at Yale University.

The Maya by Michael D. Coe. Thames & Hudson, 1993. An introduction to the extraordinarily sophisticated Mayan civilization that flourished in the jungles of Mexico and Central America 1,500 years ago. Presents many details about specific sites.

A Guide to Ancient Maya Ruins by C. Bruce Hunter. University of Oklahoma Press, 1986. The author, who leads field trips for the Museum of Natural History, provides an introduction to the history and culture of the Maya, and describes all the accessible major excavations and restorations.

A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya by Linda Schele and David Freidel. Perenniel, 1992. Uses the written history of Maya hieroglyphs to tell the dynastic history of selected Maya sites.

Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan by John Lloyd Stephens. Dover Publications, 1969. Modern, abridged edition of Stephen’s 1841 book that brought sites including Copán to the world’s attention. It was a bestseller in its time, and Stephens� writing, along with his companion Catherwood�s drawings, evokes what it was like to see the ruins of Copán, Quirigua, Palenque, and Uxmal on muleback over 150 years ago. This edition adds a selection of historical and modern photographs.

Time Among the Maya: Travels in Belize, Guatemala and Mexico by Ronald Wright. Grove Press, 2000. Eight million people in Guatemala, Belize, and southern Mexico speak Mayan languages and maintain their resilient culture to this day. Traveling through Central America�s jungles and mountains, the author explores the ancient roots of the Maya, their recent troubles, and prospects for survival.


Shopping in Central America

Souvenirs In Central American countries, you can find a variety of interesting craft items at very good prices.

If you plan to make a major purchase, we strongly recommend that you research the prices and quality available at home before your trip. Just one visit to an importer of hand-woven fabrics or a dealer in items carved from wood will put you way ahead when you get to the local craft shop or street stall. This is the only way to know if you are getting a good price or not. OAT cannot be responsible for any delays or problems you may have with shipping your purchases overseas.

It is Overseas Adventure Travel�s goal to identify and provide you with shopping opportunities that highlight unique locally produced products with good value from reliable vendors. Overseas Adventure Travel cannot be responsible for purchase you make on your trip.

Bargaining
Bargaining is common when purchasing handicrafts in open-air markets in Guatemala and several other Central American countries. At stores run by artisan’s cooperatives, and in the more formal setting of indoor shops, bargaining is not customary.

Antiquities
Think carefully before purchasing “antiquities.” Counterfeits are common, and customs inspectors may confiscate genuinely old articles—which may be illegal to buy or possess.

U.S. Customs Regulations
Articles totaling $800, at fair retail value where they were acquired, may be imported free of charge if you bring them with you. A flat 10% rate of duty will be applied to the next $1,000 worth (fair retail value) of merchandise. The value of your items is determined by the U.S. Customs Inspector when you enter, not by your bill of sale. However, in almost every case a genuine bill of sale will be honored.

Items shipped home are always subject to duty when received in the U.S. There will also be charges for clearing the shipment through customs. The U.S. Customs Service says, “The most cost-effective thing to do is to take your purchases with you if at all possible.”

It’s illegal to import products made from endangered animal species. U.S. Customs will seize most furs, coral, tortoise shell, reptile skins, feathers and plants.


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