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Life Love & Adventure Follow my journeys around this little blue planet as I tread wearily into unknown waters, sipping on the nectars of ancient fruit trees, grappling linguistics with foreign tongues, and bathing in exotic sensations ...

Guatemalan Highlights

GUATEMALA | Thursday, 21 February 2008 | Views [1092] | Comments [3]

Greetings once again :). I´ve been in Guatemala for the past 4 or 5 days since leaving the lovely coastline of Belize. We crossed the border without incident this time and endured a long bumpy bus ride to Flores, which is small little town on an island in Lago Peten Itza. Its geared up for the toursists with plenty of interesting stalls, cafes and bars, but its mainly used as the doorstep to the amazing Tikal National Park and the Tikal ruins.

We got up really early to catch the sunrise come up over Temple IV at Tikal, and were led by our guide through the jungle darkness before any of the local critters were awake :). Out of the gloomy dark the forboding sillouettes of massive pyramids looked over our tired but wide-eyed group emanating their ancient power. As we started to climb Temple IV which is the largest of the series of pyramids here, the howler monkeys roared forth the pre-dawn cries to awaken the parrots and toucans. As the sun rose, the mist slowly faded to reveal the jungle canopy and the sounds of the jungle waking from its slumber came to life. It was a great experience only marred by the chatter of other tourists and the scaffolding which was being used as part of restoration works.

We then moved through various parts of the old city including the Plaza of Seven Temples, the triple ball court, the Grand Plaza, the Temple of the Masks and the iconic Temple of the Jaguar. Tikal is a huge city covering some 25 sq km and its location in the Guatemalan jungle is just stunning :). We had time away from other tourist groups to explore some of the ruins and enjoy the misty morning among the massive trees.

Flores was a great place to unwind, do some souvenir shopping at cheap prices and drink cockatails by the lakeside, hehe. But we moved on via an overnght bus to Guatemala City and then a shuttle bus to Antigua. That was a long tiring ride so most of the next day was spent sleeping until we went for an afternoon walk around Antigua catching some of the sights. Many of the old Spanish buildings here were destroyed in earthquakes in the 1750s, and although the main ones have been restored somewhat, there a plenty of relics of that time still standing.

Antigua has a great ambience with iths colonial and colourful buildings, and its a hot spot for tourists so there are good facilities all around. Its nestled among three big volcanoes (one still active) which loom in every direction you look in town. A mixture of local and international cuisine, and the local brew (called Gallo) satisfied our empty stomaches :). We were preparing for our next adventure which was to climb the Pacaya Volcano the next morning!

And what a great hike that was :). We shuttled to the base of the volcano and were offered walking sticks by our guide, or to catch the horse ´taxi´ if you didn´t want to make the effort. We all walked the trail which has enough stops along the way to catch our breath. Pacaya is 2600m ASL and we weren`t allowed to walk to the crater as there had been some recent activity and it wasn`t safe. However, we got to a ridge aout 200m from the top, and from there onwards, everthing was covered in hardened black lava giving the place and eery alien landscape. If I was a geologist I´d probably be raving about pyroclastic pillow tufts and the like so its a good thing I`m not, hehe. There was an active lava flow within reach and were led across the gnarly and sharp rocks towards it. The rocks have a hollow metallic sound so our footing was tenous as the temperatue got higher and higher. In small cracks in the rocks below our feet, the orange glow of molten lava radiated upwards, and as we got closer to the main flow, it started to feel like the beach on a 42C day, and then like being cooked in an oven for Sunday´s roast! HOT, hot and HOT! We got as close as we dared to the slow stream of tumbling lava rock, then got the heck out of there! One other tourist had the sole of her shoe melt off so it was a good time to make the trek back up the ridge, hehe.

The hike down the slope was a lot quicker than that going up, and after some r&r back in town, me and my 3 girls went for lunch and some more souvenir shopping. It was our official last night of the tour so after a good dinner, we headed to a bar called Reilley´s (yes the Irish have infiltrated this part of the world as well) , and drank it up til closing time. Some of us partied on afterwards and stumpled up the quiet cobbled streets back to the hotel in the early morning :).

So it was sad to say goodbye to some of my new friends the next day, including our tour leader Eduardo who I shared a lot in common with, and I had to hold back the tears as their bus moved away :(. Kate, Alice and I were the last of the originals and these two girls have already left, so now I´m back to travelling alone - waaaaahh! lol. So i´ve been trying to organise myself for the next week in Hawaii, but its looking like I´ll have to wing it a bit. Accommodation hasn´t been secured and my money is stretched until after the weekend, but I should be fine so long as I get there in one piece, hehe.

Anyway folks, I´ve got some chill time coming up, and I know you´re keen to see some more photos, so I´ll do what I can.

Until next time ... ;)

Tags: On the Road



Howdy again mate. Got your email the other day. Was great to hear from you. it's cool to know that you've got a bit of time to drop a line while enjoying yourself as much as you are. The jungle temple trip sounded very very cool, as did the trip to see the volcano and lava flow. I hope you get things sorted for Hawaii and that you get a chance to possibly meet a Kahuna while there. What an experience if you can get it. Put out an ask and see what happens. Just don't end up in a part of Hawaii that's had filming for Lost on it. There's some weird black cloud of destruction there, not to mention polar bears! hahaha:)

Looking forward to catching up with you when you've returned and settled. Will be great to hear about all your brilliant experiences. Take care mate and cherish the last part of your trip...as if you wouldn't :)


  Steve Watson Feb 21, 2008 11:24 AM


hey matt man...good to hear once again that ur having a great time..that volcano trip sounds awesome....hope all goes well for you over this last part of your journey...my how time flies....cya soon bro..take care mon :)

  Chris Feb 21, 2008 2:26 PM


heya matt! not sure if you check these comments, but i don't have your personal email so...
In O'ahu I loved the Hostelling International - Waikiki. It was super cheap (~ 25 USD/night), really central for catching the bus around the island (also really cheap) and only a couple of streets back from Waikiki Beach! They can also book you on the eco-tour run by Jack. It's a whole day trippin around the island's cultural and natural features and ending with sunset on the North Shore eating fresh pineapple - bliss!

  laurina Feb 21, 2008 5:48 PM

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