A Travellerspoint blog

DAY 41 - 45 ANTIGUA

Left at 9am Boat from FINCA to Rio Dulce - 45 minutes
Coach from Rio Dulce to Guatemala City - 6 hours (coach driver not the safest, texting and using mobile phone whilst taking corner) seat belts fastened at all times.

Last collectivo caught just in time 1 hour 15 minutes to Antigua arrived in the main Plaza at 830pm.

After asking a few people directions to the hotel including a weird 14 year old boy in a corner shop and his older amigo in the corner holding a pump action shotgun (hopefully to protect them from a robbery nothing else) we arrived at our lush hotel with ensuite bathroom. That evening we went to the closest pizza place and shared a small veggie pizza. We were both tired so hit the hay.

The next day we paroused the cobbled streets and colourful buildings intertwined with ruins from an earthquake years ago. The view from our road was outstanding a huge volcano overlooking the town and a bright blue sky. We then walked up a hill nearby to a view point with a cross and the view was even more breath taking. Then Mel came across a necklace that she really liked being sold by a European entrepreneur, she was about to buy it when I had to say, "SORRY TO RUIN THE SURPRISE BUT I GOT YOU THE NECKLACE YOU SAW IN FINCA TATIN FOR VALENTINES DAY." MEL quickly put down the necklace and made her excuses and we left down the hill. DAM Oh well nearly!!!!

There were so many companies offering volcano hikes, bike trips, local village tours we managed to completely overload our brains and we ended up losing our minds a bit. We ate at an amazing vegan restaurant called Samsara. This gave us brain power and we booked a trip for £7.50 each up Pacaya Volcano the next day for the sunset trek.

The next day, we sorted out some chores including looking for mobile phone repair shops for Mels ropey HTC. Which made a remarkable recovery later that day. At 2-pm we were picked up from the hotel and drove 1.5 hours to the Volcano start point. OUR guide met us there and we began the 3km track to the highest view point. I did not realise the volcano was still active. It was a quite a fast pace trek up some fairly challenging steep paths certainly made me sweat a lot and my heart pump nice and fast. When we got to the view point close to the summit we were very surprised to see the volcano starting to spit out lava from the top. Wow totally amazing. We then swooped down into a tiny valley where a previous eruption in 2014 had left lava rock. it looked like the surface of the moon. Here we toasted marshmallows in a hidden hot spot in amongst the rocks. Pretty cool !!!

Then we walked around to another view point where we could see the lava spitting out from Pacaya on the left, in front of us the sun setting into a layer of cloud and hills and to the right another volcano with the summit disappearing into the clouds. Really stunning can't really describe how amazing it was to see. As it got darker you could see the dark orange/red lava spewing from the volcano top in all its glory.

Best £7.50 I have ever spent.

The last two days we have spent lounging around cafes, smoothie bars and eateries in Antigua town and building up our food supplies for the volunteering on Sunday. I won't be able to update until next weekend as no wifi at Animal aware. See you in a week

Posted by Markandmel2016 18:37 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

DAY 38 - 40 FINCA TATIN - RIO DULCE

The next 3 nights we spent at FINCA TATIN situated on the bank of the RIVER DULCE set literally in the jungle.

It only took us 2 hours in a coach to Rio Dulce where we stopped on a busy main road bustling with a huge market and people and cars everywhere,....EVERYWHERE!!! We also couldn't find where the man was unloading our bags from the coach and we thought it was going to drive off without us. IN the end we managed to get them and we were immediately got accosted by a river boat tout who guided us to the River in the pouring rain and we paid an over the top rate for the boat to the FINCA, ANNOYING.

We were greeted at the FINCA by a very enthusiast and excitable German chap who gave us a very detailed briefing about the FINCA. Our room was very basic a wooden shack with a metal roof with a shared jungle toilet and shower. The evening dinner was always at 7pm and everyone sat together so that people could meet and share stories from the day. Mostly the food was veggie so worked out well for Melanie.

That evening the heavens opened and it didn't just rained it was torrential rain practically all night, keeping me half awake and Mel thought our hut was going to flood. In the morning it was still raining but thankfully only light rain. So we hired out a double kayak. We were boated out 20 minutes to some Mangrove swamps where we hopped into our dodgy canoe and soaked up the stunning river views and the rain. We were both soaked through but we did not care.
We kayaked about 1 hour to some hot springs situated on the river bank, where we sat in the water and tried to find a comfortable position in the boiling hot on and off water. We then paddled over to Laguna de Flores which was a small inlet of water covered in flowering Lilly pads. Stunning!!

Back at the FINCA we lounged in hammocks ate homemade bread and chimichurri dip and read books.

Thee next day the Sun was out and we Kayaked down river towards Livingston taking in the amazing sights of the Canyon, jungle and birds. Mel will say that I barely paddled at all but she did tell me to relax so I did just that. Haha!! We arrived into Livingston at midday and eventually managed to 1, get on the jetty and 2. Haul the kayak up as well. We spent the afternoon walking around the town which had a bit of an edge to it and seems a bit more Carribbean style. OKay town nothing really to right home about is. Not much to see or do glad we didn't stay here. We then got the boat back to the FINCA.

That evening we met an English couple that had been travelling and had started in ANTARTICA, WOW!!! We got on with them really well and spent the evening playing Fluxx (a card game) accompanied by a few alcoholic beverages.

Stunning place, amazing kayaking highly recommended.

Wild life seen: Pelicans, Cormorants, Gibnuts, bright red crabs, fireflies, a big toad, a huge spider, 2 dogs and a cat.

Posted by Markandmel2016 17:59 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

DAY 35-37 FINCA IXOBEL

semi-overcast 26 °C

Arrived at the farm lodge around lunchtime after a harrowing collectivo ride with a driver with a heavy right foot and a mobile he could not put down. I think he wrote health and safety legislation or maybe a candidate for the Darwin awards. Oh something I just remembered minutes after getting on to this bus it stopped in a bustling local market and the driver disembarked and completely disappeared into the distance. Leaving us defenceless against a hoard of market sellers frantically trying to sell everything fom fresh fruit and veggies to pills and boxes of needles (God knows what they contained)

FINCA IXOBEL is a farm owned by an American lady and her adopted children. It occupies hundreds of acres of land including open fields, jungle/woodland and random huge steep hills. They offer many activities including cave tours, horse riding and treks. They also have an onsite restaurant and bakery using some of their veggies grown on the farm.

We decided over the next few days that we wouldn't do any tours or activities and just do well nothing. Just appreciate the countryside go on free hikes and we'll eat amazing food.

Our days have consisted of a lie in and waking up to the smells from the bakery, a hearty breakfast, a 2 hour hike up a huge hill, lunch of homemade bread and soup, an afternoon of swinging in hammocks reading, talking and just enjoying life. The evenings consisted of more amazing food and a few beers chatting to a sweet old Danish guy called Martin about his travels.

The banana muffins, cinnamon swirls and bread muffins are to die for.

Plus Friday night they open the bar on the lake and it's eat as much as you can buffet night.

Pricing

£13 per night for our double room with jungle showers outside.
£1.5 for a bottle of beer
70p for a banana muffin
£1.5 large fruit smoothie

Boom Shaka lacka

Posted by Markandmel2016 12:16 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

DAY 34 - FLORES (TIKAL)

Today we booked a collectivo to TIKAL which took about an hour or so. Things that annoyed me on the way: annoying lady forgetting her ticket then sat behind me frantically chewing gum with her mouth wide open, oh my god I could have throttled her. Then the driver was tailgating another collectivo desperately in need of an overhaul. We were literally choking on gas fumes for 20 minutes. Anyway rant over haha.

TIKAL........an ancient Mayan city set deep in the jungle, huge temples peering out of the Canopies, howler and spider monkeys scoffing fruit in the nearby trees. What an amazing place. Much of the city is in pretty good order still and they have preserved the hieroglyphics and a massive carved Mayan face extremely well.

Very impressive and not overcrowded with coach loads of tourists.

We got back into Flores at 4pm and searched around for a budget dinner but I think we had missed the boat on fresh market food so we made noodles with a few left over veggies .

Posted by Markandmel2016 11:44 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

DAY 33 - FLORES

In the morning we caught a taxi for 5 US Dollars where we made our way through the customs/border control. Unfortunately we only had few Belizean and US dollars but just managed to pay the taxes and get a few quatzels for the other side into GUATEMALA. However, due to our shortage of cash and a very convincing taxi driver we were taken to a local ATM 500 metres up the street not the 1.5kms he had told us earlier. So after being ripped off completely we paid the fool of a Tuk and marched off to locate a collectivo or chicken bus to St Helena near Flores. After attempting our poor Spanish to several locals and backing away from a dodgy street lined with armed soldiers we luckily ran into a collectivo. For £3 each we were transported to ST Helena some 100km away. I could not believe at one point there were over 20 people crammed into this small minibus. About 5-6 people including an elderly lady standing in all sorts of positions, it really was quite amusing. We arrived at St HELENA bus station and squeezed into a Tuk Tuk with all our bags and were whizzed to the isle de Flores.

Our hotel was cheap and cheerful but the room unfortunately smelt quite strongly of urine.

We walked around half the island pretty quickly taking in the views of the lake and countryside. It was very quiet around town and we came across a nice cafe called COOL BEANS where we ordered the biggest plate of nachos and topping I had ever encountered. Very meaty looking soya cubes too.

After more looking around the cobbled streets lined with restaurants and cafes we found a budget friendly bar/cafe overlooking the lake with fantastic comfy chairs. We spent a few hours here relaxing and researching.

In the evening we played rummy and had lush grub at an alternative vegan friendly restaurant also enjoying the local beer Calex GALLO.

Posted by Markandmel2016 11:07 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

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