Final days…….I don’t wont this to end!

After our hike we head to another little town on the lake called San Juan, it's here we are introduced to a local family who each of us will stay with for the night. The family don't speak English and my Spanish is extremely basic, but looking forward to it.

We go visit some of the local community projects in town, weaving, natural medicines and paintings. Those that know me well, will know my love of scarfs, it was extremely hard to only buy one from this place, they showed us how they prepare the cotton from plant to final product, the scarf I bought would have taken 6 days to make…..just amazing.

I was lucky enough to meet the two ladies that made the two items that I bought….shame I had my eyes closed!

The family I am staying with are just lovely, below are some photos of their house, we help them with dinner, I not any good at making tortillas….I made sure I ate mine as they uneven and not exactly round! It's hard due to the language barrier, but the other girl staying at the same family as me, speaks Spanish, so she translates, which helps, but I wish I could have communicated more myself.

We wake up early to walk up to the view point to watch the sunrise….these early mornings are killing me!

Not the best photo as it was some distance away, but below is Fuego erupting

We take the boat back across the lake to then take bus back to Antigua for the last night of our tour….sniff sniff, going to be really hard to leave this area of the world, and the awesome people I have meet in my tour group

It's the birthday of one of the girls in our tour, so we have cake and pre drinks before heading out for one final night as a group.

Have had such an awesome time on this tour, the group of people where awesome, certainly have some awesome memories of this trip and also the great people I experienced it with

It's with great sadness that I say goodbye to everyone the next morning i feel like i have made some great new friends, am sad that i not continuing on the journey with them all and also that i may not see some of them again, but they helped make the trip so fantastic and i have great memories of all of them.

So i start what will turn out to be the longest trip home ever…….delayed at Guatemala City airport for 3 hours, which means I miss connection in Houston, so put on another flight, should still make my melb connection, but no the plane is delayed again leaving the Tarmac. Land in Houston miss my flight and can't get on next one….in fact she says no seats left at all out of Houston to LA, but then suddenly one comes up, but means will have to over night in LA. So after 18 hours I finally arrive in LAX…….flight time during this 18 hours was only 5 hours….so that meant I spent a lot of time in lines sorting out connecting flights and sitting in waiting lounge.

Oh well, get given lemons, make lemonade, so I head on down to Santa Monica and hit the shops.

Also got to catch up with a friend in LA for dinner, she took me on a scenic drive around south beach, including the Canals in Venice beach

 

So after an epic 52 hours since I left everyone at the hotel in Antigua I arrive home……oh the sight of my bed was awesome…..crashed!

So that's it for another travel bog guys, hope you have all enjoyed it…..think I might re read it all now and remember again all the awesome things I have seen and done on this trip….Central America, I will be back!

See you all very soon…..missed you all!

 

Chicken bus fun and volcano hiking in Guatemala

Next morning we head off to Panajachel….this journey will involve 4 chicken buses….hence to make life easier we have only packed our day packs……a very smart decision.

Lets just say that public transport in Melbourne, in particular the 96 tram now feels extremely roomy. We are already squashed in, with 3 people per seat and people standing in the very narrow aisle. At one stage, the bus conductor gets on at the back of the bus and pushes his way down making everyone squeeze in just that little bit more.

I was squashed up the very back of the bus, sharing a seat with 3 other people….the guy next to me hardly had his arse on the seat at all, he was just on mine and the seat opposite but mainly hanging in mid air. So this sounds pretty crazy already, but then you add in a very windy road and the toughest game of corners ever, it certain,y was a crazy experience. Our old US school bus was over taking other modern cars as it flew around the corners at break neck speeds…..while we squeezed in so close you would think we could hardly move, but at that speed, we still had to hold on so we didn't squash the person on the window…..it was a great work out for the arms at least!

First photo was a pretty mundane chicken bus, but you can start to see how many sitting, their is a row down the middle…..check out the guy, if looks could kill, I be dead!

Not a great shot, as it was actually really hard to get my camera out, it got much fuller than this, but by then I could hardly move and was needing both hands to hold on so no more photos could be taken. But the guy in the striped shirt ended up right in front of me, I spent about an hour with his butt in my face!

At some of the stops, people would get on and try sell you things….seriously I could hardly move let alone eat something, but they came in from the back door and just hanged on from the back while the bus took off and then closed it while the bus still moving and then jumped off…..now that's a hard way to make a living!

We arrive in Panajachel, it's a small lake side town on Lake Atitlan….it beautiful, huge lake surrounded by volcanoes…..wow this pace is gorgeous.

A late lunch before suppose to go off zip lining….however, Mother Nature had another plan, a huge thunder and lightning storm came in.

It pretty much rained the rest of the afternoon, so wondered around the streets then came back and drank beers and played cards. We headed out for some street food for dinner…..cheap and pretty tasty, I can't recall what these things called, but they a tortilla stuffed with beans and cheese with sauce and salad on top.

Early night as got to be up at 6 am do hike up a volcano……..aaaahhhhh nooooo I decide to drink up on the balcony with some of the guys from our group until 2am.

Wow, it's early, I drag my arse out of bed and we catch the boat over to San Juan where we then take a ute up to the base of the volcano. But the lake looks amazing at this time of the morning.

Above is the San Pedro volcano we going to hike up…..looks so innocent from the water. The ute ride up was pretty cool, standing in the tray and holding on as we zipped up the hills and through the town.

My fellow hikers, lets call this the before shot….pretty happy and excited about our hike
The terrain is steep and full of tree roots and rocks you need to climb up
Half way…..omg…….hope the view is worth it.

As we climb we pass a few areas used for farming, hard work climbing up here every day to work on your crop

The view from just after half way…..ok this is pretty cool

Just before we reach the top, we have a play on a rope swing…..yep I am still a kid!

Ok enough playing around, lets get to the top……wow what a view, took us over 3.5 hours to hike up, but worth it,

What goes up, must come down, was easier to go down, but still took us almost 2 hours. The after shot below, best coke I have ever had!

 

Salsa, beer, rum and Volcanoes in Antigua

Mmmm 7 hours on the bus…..this will be fun…..finally we arrive in Antigua, such a cute little town. Tonight we have a salsa class……rum is needed to loosen up the hips prior to our class.

Dinner and then out to a salsa bar to put our new dance moves into action, lots of the local boys ask us to dance, was such great fun. A few of us then went on to a bar that was open after hours, had to check coast was clear before we entered and exited, however, the cops just sat in car up the road watching anyway!

 

Next morning with some sore heads we take a walking tour around town

A lot of the buildings have damage from volcanoes eruptions

Antigua is surrounded by volcanoes, including Fuego, which is an active volcano that erupts all the time, you can see them from the streets as you walking around, we even saw an eruption this morning, just didn't get a photo.

Visited the local market, like all markets sold everything and anything

 

Ahhhh time for some shopping, but not before some lunch, ice cold beer on a hot day, nothing beats it. Even saw some of the champions league game. The place we went to had the biggest sauce range I have ever seen.

In the afternoon we walked up to the cross on the hill to get an awesome view of the town

 

Cruising on the water

We get to Rio Dolce and then need to take a boat over to our Eco Lodge which is built over the water, really cute little place.

Get up early the next day to do a sunrise kayaking around the jungle and to see the monkies.

Was so peaceful sitting in the kayaks on the water watching the monkies playing as the sun was rising

Rio dolce is near the biggest lake in Guatamale and so the water is a big part of the lives of the locals here, using it to transport water and wood up and down the river.

After b'fast a few of us took a boat along the river down to a town called Kingston, the trip is more about the journey than the destination. We stopped first in the town to get some supplies was a busy town, with lots of things going on in the streets.

Mangoes out the back of a ute….straight from the farm, and cheap as!

We went past the old fort, saw many houses along the water and wild life, seeing the locals living in the river, was a really awesome trip

Some local children came up to our boat to sell us things they had made

On the way we also stopped at a local school, which also has a number of orphans living at it, we had a tour by one of the volunteers. It was family day at the school so al the children where doing performances for their parents, was so very cute.

Such a simple and happy life they live, a lot to learn from this……

Kingston itself was not much of a town, but had a very yummy fish coconut curry soap for lunch

 

Guatemala…..last country of the trip

Early the next morning we cross the border into Guatemala, on the way to Flores we visit the largest Mayan Ruins called Tikal.

Saw heaps of ants carrying leaves along the paths as we walked around the grounds…..a sign that the weather is going to change, lucky for us it did cool down….a bit!

There was also a large number of monkeys playing round in the tress all around the ruins

 

We arrive at Flores not long before sunset, after a stop for lunch, Flores is on the second largest lake in Guatemala, the lakes overflowing at the moment so some piers and streets are under water.

They use tuk tuk's here in Guatemala

Since entering Guatemala have noticed a very strong police/military presence, most with some serious weapons.

Dinner was pizza and beer…..seriously only so much rice and beans I can eat…..was good pizza too!

Next morning we on the move again, on the way we stop at waterfall for a swim, it's bizarre as the water at the bottom of the waterfall is cold, yet the water coming down the waterfall is not…..really hot. But was a great place for some lunch and a swim.

We head back to the bus to discover we have a flat battery, after trying to jump start with an old ute, we end up pushing it and starting it.

Success…..back on the road again and of to our next destination of Rio Dolce

 

Sad, crazy and hot in Belize

Very sadly we left Caye Caulker this morning……sniff sniff, a water taxi back to Belize City and into another chicken bus…..gonna be another hot journey. As we flying along, I am sitting up the back of the bus and I hear a loud bang, I turn around to see that the door at the back of the bus was flying open and then looked down the road and saw a backpack on the road…….shit stop!!!!, stop the bus a bag has fallen out……bus is so loud the driver either not hearing or chose not to stop, eventually with half the bus yelling he stopped, by this stage we at least 1km down the road……conductor rans back down the road to get pack…..comes back empty handed……after a very nervous wait while we did a role call of all the bags, while the bus drove off, it turned out one of the girls on our tours bag had been lost…..our guide made the bus stop so she could go back to try find it, but no luck, was gone…..horrible feeling of relief that it wasn't my bag, but horrible feeling for the girl who just lost almost everything she had with her. A rather subdued trip to our next location of San Ignacio after this.

We arrive and go for a much needed dip in the river just near where we staying in an Eco lodge, pretty basic facilities, totally in the jungle, so pretty cool spot, but still f'en hot!

 

Next morning a few of us head off to go caving…….so excited, really been looking forward to this. We hiked in for about 30 mins through the rainforest and arrived at the cave.

This is no normal walk through cave, we literally have to climb, crawl, squeeze and twist our way though the smallest gaps, that if you looked at them you would think you reached the end, but suddenly our guide, disappears through a tinny crack and then we have to follow…..was awesome!

As well as the fun of clambering around the cave, the actual cave itself was really amazing, it's called the Crystal Cave, non of the photos show the true beauty of the cave, but one of the best things on this trip.

The cave had only been open to tours for a few years, it has a number of Mayan remains, skulls and pottery all left in the cave as sacrifices and offerings

We very hot and sweaty afterwards and covered in mud…….loved it

Needed a dip in the near by Blue Hole…..it was beautiful, but I was so hot I would have swam in anything.

 

 

Yep…….still in paradise

Still in love, this island is just awesome, had a relaxing day today, was hoping to go stand up paddle boarding, but it was too windy……my fellow st kilda boarders will know that frustration too well! Oh well, we just found a pier and hanged out on it swimming and sunbathing….yep today was a tough day. I also had a walk around the island, it's not very big, take about 2 minutes to walk its width and 30 it's length, at island pace…..which is slow both cause its so relaxed here and also cause its so hot.

Lots of places here do BBQ on the beach, just walk up pick your meat and they cook it up for you.
 
No cars are allowed on the island so everyone gets around on bikes and golf carts

Sorry, just a few more of my fav pics…..so sad to be leaving here tomorrow morning

This place is even beautiful at night time

 

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