Another medium-sized break between entries, so my sincerest apologies to those of you who have been checking back every day eager to read some more about my [mis]adventures.* This time it’s not because I’ve been extremely busy but rather the opposite, I’ve not been doing all that much worth reporting!
After the last entry, we spent a couple of days relaxing in Antigua; Ben had an extremely important Skype conference call to further his budding career in global health research, I sorted through and filed the reams of photos and videos accumulated thus far on my GoPro. We did find time amongst all this strenuous busywork to win** the hostel beer pong tournament, much to the chagrin of the Canadian jock who was in charge of the entire affair and dictated all the rules with much gusto. Before you ask, yes I hit the last cup in all three of our matches, so my status as a last-cup specialist is not maintained, it is enhanced.
Ben decided to set out on by far the most popular activity for people who find themselves in this neck of the woods, a trek up Volcan Acatenango, a 3,976m volcano, from which you can see the continued eruptions of Volcan Fuego, a volcano in the same mountain range that is one of the most active in the world.
Hiking is, to put it lightly, not my cup of tea*** so I sent him off with my blessings and luck for the overnight trek, content to faff around at the hostel, sleep, and watch large amounts of Parks & Recreation in his absence. As it was an overnight trip, hiking up to a campsite just shy of the peak and then rising early to climb the rest and take in the sunrise, he returned at around lunchtime the next day with a fantastic story and some incredible pictures, which I will post below but take absolutely no credit for.
At night you could actually see the red-hot lava flying out of the crater, but sadly the good doctor was lacking a camera good enough to capture this, so you’ll have to ask him for the story yourself.****
After his return, we travelled to Lago de Atitlan, or more specifically the settlement of San Pedro la Laguna that is on said lake. This is only four or so hours drive from Antigua, and a large volcanic lake surrounded by charming hippy-infested settlements of all shapes and sizes. It is also one of the areas in Guatemala where Maya culture is still prevalent, as the colourful, traditional dresses of the local women can attest to. Again, as is the theme of this entry, we didn’t do much of anything with our four nights there apart from availing ourselves of the hostel bar and its cold beer, excellent pizzas and jumping platform straight into the lake.
When we eventually decided to leave San Pedro yesterday, our journey was significantly delayed by the small matter of some enormous rocks in the road. After a couple of hours in the traffic jam we strolled up the road to see what all the fuss was about, thinking “how can it possibly take this long, I mean for heaven’s sake we’ve been here for hours and all they have to do is clear some bloody rocks from the road I mean what petty, arbitrary bureaucracy is actually causing this hold up and who’s palms do we have to grease to get this bloody show on the bloody road……
An extremely satisfying period of time watching an extremely competent excavator driver make 10-ton rocks his bitch with a pneumatic drill attachment later, our driver eventually decided enough was enough and drove the long way around the other side of the lake at some seriously impressive/alarming speeds, delivering us safely back to Antigua in time to grab some dinner.
Today, we hired a motorbike (for Ben) and a quad bike (for myself) and set out to explore the mountainous(/volcanous?) surroundings of this town. We were rewarded with some stunning views and brilliant mountain roads, even if the cobbled streets of Antigua itself are slightly unbearable.
Tomorrow morning, we’re actually retracing our steps and taking an early shuttle back to Semuc Champey and the incredible Zephyr Lodge. We have time to spare before heading down to Panama***** and right now, four nights (for the price of three!) and some more dips in possibly the best located infinity pool in the world sounds just about brilliant. We will return to Antigua for a third time after that (we do like it here, but we also do have to keep return here as it’s a bit of a transfer hub), and journey to country number three, El Salvador!
*And/or look at the pretty pictures
***Mike (of last two entries fame) will testify to this end due to the mammoth amount of swear words I shouted into Ben Nevis over a year ago, when I (reluctantly) summited it with him.
****It’s a doozy, promise.
*****We have to be there for the 21st of March for mystery arrival #2!