The government of Guatemala last week called for three days of mourning for the lives lost in floods and landslides after Hurricane Stan, but at the same time was working hard to restore the roads and bridges upon which the country's economy depends.
"We are getting all the help we can to bring the country back to normal as quickly as possible," said Ambassador Guillermo Castillo in Washington. Most major tourist attractions were not affected by the disaster, he added.
A few flights were canceled at the nation's two international airports, in Guatemala City and Flores, on the first day of the hurricane, but service was quickly back to normal. Flights to Tikal were also operating normally by early last week. Things were also "perfectly normal" in Antigua, the ambassador said.
Mudslides blocked the main roads to the heavily visited towns of Atitlan and Chichicastenango in the highlands, but Castillo said he expected them to be passable before the end of last week. He also added that things are "in pretty bad shape" at ports along the Pacific Coast, famous for deep-sea fishing.
Embassy personnel in Washington will answer queries from travelers; e-mail the embassy at info@ guatemala-embassy.org.
NEW OR IMPROVED
Rinks, Ships, Museums
There's always something new in travel, and here are a few developments worthy of note:
* In New York City, a new ice- skating rink behind the New York Public Library (42nd Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues) will operate from Oct. 28 to Jan. 16. The skating is free, thanks to sponsor Citi Group, but rental skates cost $7.50. The rink is a new centerpiece to Fetes de Noel, a holiday market that opens Nov. 25. Details: www.fetesdenoel.com.
* In Beachwood, Ohio, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage opened this month, about 30 minutes from downtown Cleveland. Interactive exhibits on the immigrant experience, fine art and Judaica from around the world are featured. Details: 216-593-0575, www.maltzjewishmuseum.org.
* In Spotsylvania, Va., the Civil War Life Museum has employed new technology to bring to 3-D life original Civil War photographs. Details: www.civilwar-life.com.
At Home at Sea
House-hunting? Sales of residential units on the luxury cruiser Orphalese begin this month, even though the ship won't launch until 2008. But you'd better start saving up now: Two- and four- bedroom residences will set you back from $1.8 million to $10 million.
Sales executive Earl Crouse says it's the first ship to include both residential suites and cabins for cruisers. And rather than sailing off to an island or a country, passengers on the Orphalese will sail to the world's great events: the Olympics, the running of the bulls in Spain, the Cannes Film Festival, tennis at Wimbledon and New Year's celebrations in Shanghai.
Cabins on lower decks will be open to temporary cruisers paying about $5,000 a week, Crouse says. The ship will also boast a shopping mall with 80,000 square feet of retail space. That way, if there's anything left over after paying for the cruise, you can spend it at sea. Details: 800- 455-4328, www.theorphalese.com.
BARGAIN OF THE WEEK
Japan for Less
Fly to Japan for $727 round trip, including taxes. Details: What's the Deal?, Page P3.
Reporting: Cindy Loose.
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