Category Archives: Guatemala

“This one time when I was at everest base camp…”

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I wrote the longest post for Antigua and it has somehow disappeared. I’ll try and write it again but I’m sure it won’t be as good.

So far I hadn’t been loving Guatemala and it hadn’t really liced up to my expectations. Protests and shitty bus rides and really been putting a damper on it. After another mamoth bus trip Whitney and I had arrived in the much raved about city Antigua. As soon as we started driving down the cobbled streets I knew I was going to like it here.

We had booked into an amazing hostel calle El Hostal. it was so nice and chilled out and the beds were so comfy. We ended up staying here for over a week. On our first day here we went on a self guided walking tour created by the hostel. Our first stop was at the top of a hill with a cross overlooking the city. It wasn’t a super strenuous walk but we were puffing when we got to the top and I probably should have taken this into account later on when I decided to climb a volcano. Our next stop was an old monestry. There wasn’t a tour on when we got there so we jusr walked around by oursleves. There were a few signs but most of the time we didn’t really know what we were lookingat so just made it up. We then saw a few churches before stumbling on an amazing wine bar. It was here that our tour ended  (this is not where the guide told us to end) as we thought we had seen enough and really wanted a wine. 3 glasses of wine and a cheese platter later I had fallen in love with Antigua.

The best wine bar ever!!

I have never done a cooking class while overseas but some people at our hostel had done one and were raving about it so we thoughtwe would give it a go. It was a little bit on the pricy side but you got a 3 course meal and unlimited wine!! The wine wasn’t great but I guess that was to be expected. The menu we cooked was guatemalan rice, pepian, rallenitos and tortillas . The food was all really nice but I have to admit Guatemal doesn’t have the greatest cuisine. We got a copy of all the recipies so we could make it at home but I think I would struggle to find all the ingredients.

La Tortilla cooking class

After chilling out and bumming around Antigua for a few days it finaly became time to climb Acatanengo. I had been tossing up weather I wanted to do it or not since I arrived and really couldn’t decided. In the end some boys at my hostel, Ryan, Rob and Sid made the decision for me. They were a fun group of guys that seemed as unprepared as me so I thought if Sid could do it so could I. Then the day of the hike as we were getting onto the bus Rob drops that he has climbed to Everest base campand Ryan is an avid hiker that goes almost every weekend. I was way out of my depth but I had paid for it now so there was no turning back.

One of the guides kids

I knew it was going to  be hard but nothing could have prepared me for how fucking hard it was going to be. I had been on hikes before but this was above and beyond. To make it even harder we had to carry all our things. When I say we I mean Ryan. I still helped out and carried my water, sleeping bag and clothes but pack horse Ryan was amazing and carried all the rest.
By the first stop, around 30 mins into the hike, I knew I had made a massive mistake coming on this hike. Sids legs were cramping already so he decided to bow out and get a chicken bus home. If I had known what was to come I would have run down the hill after him. It was a constant climb from the beginning to the very end. There were only 2 flat parts the entire hike one for about 200m and the other about 40mins.

I was basically on my own at theback of the pack the entire hike. It didn’t really bother me though as I had my headphones in and no one to see me dying. Just when I thought I was at my lowest the heavens decided to open up and start hailing. It was like being shot all over by a million BB guns. Soaked and freezing cold I honestly thought this was the end! I wasn’t going to take one more step and threw my bag to the ground. I was staying here until the group came back.

After sitting there for a few minutes I realised I would literally die if I stayed here as I had no food (Ryan had run away with it) no tent and just a wet sleeping bag. I dragged myself off the floor and continued climbing. What after felt like a lifetime, but was actually around 6 hours I had made it to camp. The boys had got there long before me and had thakfully already set up the tent as I was in no state to help. I was basically hypothermic by the time I got into the tent. Everything was wet and I had gone blue. To say I wasn’t having fun would be the greatest understatment ever made. Rob and Ryan made me eat and eventually I started to warm up and become semi human again.

Loving life….

It was amazingly beautiful at the camp sight. Fuego was erupting every 10-15 mins and we got to see lava flowing out the top. We stayed out for as long as we could but eventually it just got too cold. We all went to bed to try and get some sleep as it was an early start and another huge day. Rob and Ryan happily spooned and kept eachother warm while I froze my ass off and got no sleep.

Fuego erupting!!

Freezing our butts off!

At 3 am we were back up and climbing again. It was torture!! We were now hiking up a hill covered in ash which is basically the same as climbing a giant sand dune. Amazingly I made it to the top. I couldn’t belive it. I even made it in time for the sunrise! It was absolutely freezing at the top and we were all huddling around like penguins trying to keep a little warm. As soon as the sun was up we were heading down the volcano. The way down was almost as bad as the way up. My legs started cramping so much I had to stop every 10 mins at the end. After a few hours we were finaly back to the start! I had done it!! I couldn’t walk properly for 4 days after and I lost my big toe nail. Was it worth it? I’m still not sure…. But I definitely would never do it agin!

We made it to the top!!!

Why are there so many girls?!!

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I don’t know what it is about Central America but it feels like it is full of female backpackers! Don’t get me wrong I love that girls are getting out there and traveling but where did all the boys go? The ratio seems to be 70% girls 30% boys! Its never great having such an uneven balance… I need to get out of this estrogen filled country and find some guys!! I do realise I sound like a boy crazed 15 year old but I don’t care!!

After 3 days and a massage I had finally recovered from the hell that was acatenango! We were in San Something on lake Atitlan staying at las iguanas hostel. It was a pretty chilled out hippie hostel. There wasn’t much to the town besides the hostel and then a school and a few houses up a massive hill. Our room had no power and didn’t really have walls. I thought we were going to be eaten alive by mosquitos but it was really cold so it didn’t end up being a problem.

It was one of these hostels that had communal dinners every night and yoga in the morning (I never joined in on the yoga…). On our first full day at the lake we signed up for a weaving class. It was only supposed to be for a few hours as we were only making a belt. The class was up in town in a local womans house. It was awesome! Mainly just to see how they lived and to realise how frikin hard it was to make even just a simple belt with weaving! We were there with 2 girls from America called Alison and Mindy. Alison was this awesome lady that taught english to spanish immigrants in Chicago. She was histerical and terrible at weaving. The class ended up taking way longer then expected, as we all sucked and constantly needed help. In the end we all gave up as our backs were killing us and I was right next to the fire/oven so I was roasting! Thankfully the teacher finished off our belts for us and brought them to the hostel the next day.

Not too sure about this weaving….

Weaving was way harder then it looks!

Sunday was market day in ChiChi (it has a longer name that I have no idea how to spell but everyone calls it chichi) and wr had been wanting to go since we had heard about it in flores. We decided to take the chicken buses as everyone kept going on about them and we weren’t willing to try it out for a longer journey. Chicken buses are the public transport throughout central america and are old American school busses that have all been on an episode of pimp my ride. It was insanely uncomfortable. We had to get 3 buses to get from the lake to ChiChi. They cram 3 people on those tiny seats so you are basically sitting in the aisle. I don’t know why but central american roads are packed with speed bumps which are so unnecessary as the roads are crap. You will be going up the side of a mountain at 10 km/hr and there will be a speed bump. Speed bumps on a chicken bus are awful!! To top it off on our 3rd bus we had a live infomercial. I’m still not sure what this guy was selling but apparently it was some tablet that fixed everything. It gave you energy, and helped with memory and prevented aging. It really didn’t seem like anyone was paying attention and Alison and I were pulling the piss out of it the whole time. Finaly after what seemed like a lifetime he handed the magic pills oit for everyone to look at and then people started buying them! We couldn’t belive it. Granted we didn’t understand most of what he was saying but it seemed like a massive joke but the people on the bus were loving it! In total the trip took us over an hour. I’m not sure how much money we saved but it was definitely an experience.

Cramed on the chicken bus

The market itself was amazing! I was in retail heaven. It was everything I love. All boho tapestry things. I could have bought at least 50 bags. Thankfully I didn’t bring my card so I was limited to the cash I had otherwise I think I would have bought everything! I ended up buying a funky jacket, a dress and a wall tapestry thing. All in all it was a sucessful day 🙂

One of the amazing market stalls

We probably could have spent another day on the lake and checked out some other little villages around the place but we decided to head back to antigua as I had it in my head that I needed to leave soon for utila. The lake was absolutely stunning though and an awesome place to relax .

Sunset on the lake

Protests ruin everything! 

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We had heard that semuc champey was closed due to protests but was supposed to be opening the day we got there. We jumped in our shitty shuttle and set off on what was supposed to be an 8 hour journey* (they don’t really have night buses in central america as things are apparently close together but you always are in the bus for a min of 8 hours).

We were all settled in and everyone had popped their sleeping pills and were about 4 hours into our journey when we hit a road block. We were about 2 hours away from Coban and there was a protest going on. I’m still not really sure what it was about but someone said it was to do with the hospitals not being open but who knows where they heard that from. I didn’t really care what it was about I just wanted to get where I was going. No one  had any idea how long we were going to be stuck there for. We all settled in for a long, hot uncomfortable wait. In total we were on the side of the road for 3 hours and the 8 hour bus trip took 14 hours!!

Entertaining the kids with snapchat filters while stuck in the protest…

After all of that the hostel we wanted to stay in was apparently full so we just jumped in a truck going to some other hostel hoping they had rooms. Sometimes travelling can be really shit!
Thankfully the hostel ended up being quite nice and cheap and was right on the river. Unfortunately semuc champey was still closed due to another set of protests (this time protesting that the town wasn’t getting any money from the tourism). As it wasn’t open we really didn’tget up to much here. We went tubing down the river which was really fun but the rest of the time we mainly spent bumming by the river.

Drinking beer and tubing down the river!

*The rule I follow for all buses in central and south america is:

Less then 10 hrs = add 1-2 hours

10 – 15hrs = add 2-3 hours

Greater then 15hrs = give up predicting and settle in for a shit day!

Hasta luego Mexico!

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After 3 weeks at the beach I was well and truely over sunbathing and swimming so I decided to ditch Belize and head straight to Guatemala. It was a long trip, around 12 hours with 2 boarder crossings. I was heading to the small island called flores. We were staying in an awesome hostel called Los Amigos. I made friends with a girl on the bus who was also from Perth called Whitney. She was travelling for an indefinite period through Central and South America. (Whitney’s favourite words: English: literally, Spanish: Perfecto! These words are said at least 15 times a day min).

We really didn’t get up to much on the first day. Just had a wander around town and a but of an admin day (laundry and planning). The hostel had awesome food so we ended up eating there most days.

It’s my birthday!! Birthdays abroad are either a big thing or not when you are travelling. As I hadn’t been traveling with anyone for a long time it was just a normal day. We decided to go and check out the ruins in Tikal. Acording to everyone these were a must see! We weren’t off to a great start. They loaded us into a tiny van with no aircon and then after 5 mins of driving stopped on the side of the road for 15 mins leaving us to pool in our own sweat. We made another 2 pointless stops in what was supposed to be a 1.5 hr bus trip.

Whitney and me in Tikal

To say I wasnt in the best of moods at the start of the tour would be a massive understatement. After what felt like a lifetime of fucking about we finaly got to start our tour. We had opted for the sunset tour as we really weren’t keen to wake up for the sunrise. I probably should have done the math but (our tour started at 12 and it was a sunset tour…) but I didn’t so I didn’t realise it was going to be a 5 hour tour!! Our guide ment well and was really passionate about archiology but as a guide he sucked. Every other word was “you see” which got extremely annoying plus he didn’t tell us any of the exciting stuff. Instead of going into all the stories about who lived there and sacrafices and indoor plumbing he went on and on about how the pyramids were excavated and rebuilt and how to interperate some tomb stone. It was completely lost on all of us. We were hot and tired and so hungry by the end of it. The ruins were amazing and there were hardly any people there but my memory of the place is a bit jaded…

Watching the sunset on the Lake in flores (better then the on at Tikal)