A Travellerspoint blog

Antigua (again) and Chichicastenango

semi-overcast

I had expected to spend all morning in the banks trying to get some more money, and was shocked to get money within 10 minutes of walking into the first bank. So instead I was able to enjoy the day seeing more sites of the city. In the morning I went to a coffee plantation just outside the city. This was really interesting, on the site they do all the process from the growing of the coffee to the packaging of the ground beans. Also got to try a very good cup of coffe.
In the afternoon I went to a really interesting museum all about the folk culture in the different areas of Guatemala, with demonstrations of the different music, textiles and crafts. I also visited the Santo Domingo convent which has been converted in to a hotel and several small museums, galleries and a nice garden.
The following day I went for a walk up nearby Volcano Pacaya. although I have seen many volcanoes in central America, this was the closest I have been to flowing lava. At some points we were walking on solidified lava and you could see lava flowing underneath.
On Sunday I went to Chichicastenango to see the local market. Apparently its one of the biggest in Guatemala with traders coming from all over the highland area. It was really interesting just to wlak round. Most of the women were wearing their traditional dress which varies with each area. There was an area for crafts made for tourists and then other areas where you could buy anything from household goods, food and clothes. I ended up buying a couple fo things to bring home.

Posted by katiew 16:27 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Flores and Tikal

rain

I arrived in Flores late in the evening and went straight to a hostel where I spent the night. The next day it was still raining but I decided to go to see the Mayan ruins at Tikal anyway. Because of the bad weather and some political problems the normal sun rise tour was cancelled. And despite it raining on and off throughout the day I still really enjoyed it. The site itself is huge, you could spend days walking around it, exploring all the buildings in the jungle. I had time to visit all the major area. THe temples themselves were very impressive, bigger than the ones I had seen in Copan, and being situated within the jungle made it more impressive. In the rain it was very atmospheric. For me the highlight was climbing 2 of the temples. Although there are steps up them, they are very steep and in the rain very slippery, but the views from the top were worth it. Looking over the jungle seeing the tops of the other temples through the trees, the rain clouds moving in from all sides and monkeys swinging in the trees was a unique experiance.

The following day I changed my plans again. I had planned to go to central Guatemala to Semuc Champey but I had heard the national park was closed because of flooding and the roads were flooded in places so I decided just to go straight back to Antigua. THe bus was suppossed to take about 9 hours but because of flooding it actually took 25, so I arrived the following morning.

Posted by katiew 16:24 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Rain, rain and more rain in Rio Dulce

rain 25 °C

I arrived in Rio Dulce in the evening, it was dark and raining hard, so I got a taxi straight to a hostel and stayed there all evening. For the next 2 days and nights it rained hard, continuously, and as the hostel was across the river from the main town (over the longest bridge in Central America) we couldn´t really go anywhere. Being in a hostel built half over a river is probably not the best place to be during torrential rain and if it hadn´t stopped raining when it did, I think the cafe part of the hostel would have flooded. But eventually the rain did ease a bit and I even managed to walk across the bridge in to town without getting soaked.
The following day the rain even stopped briefly, so we decided to go out for the day and took a bus out of the town, some way around Lago Isabel. When we arrived it started raining and the bus driver usefully told us to walk in completely the opposite direction to where we wanted to go. But we eventually realised our mistake and found our way to the river and waterfall where we wanted to go swimming. The waterfall is fed by a hot spring and is still relatively warm. Unfortunately you half to swim across the cold river to get there, but it was worth it, has to be the closest thing I have had to a hot shower for a long time. We also climbed up to the top of the waterfall to sit in the warm river at the top.
The following day we decided to leave Rio Dulce and get the boat down the river to Livingstone, a town on the coast. The boat ride itself was really nice, going through a beautiful gorge and stopping off to see a castle built by the Spanish to protect the area from the English. We arrived before it started raining really hard again and we spent the night in La casa de la Iguana, a really nice hostel.
The following day it was raining a bit but we decided to go for a walk along the beaches to the 7 alters, another waterfall and a series of pools in the jungle. It was apparently where the original Tarzan film was made and it was really easy to see why they used it as the setting. We had a nice swim in some of the pools and had fun jumping off the waterfall.
The next day I spent travelling back to Rio Dulce and then up to Flores.

Posted by katiew 15:00 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Panajachel

sunny 26 °C

From Antigua I decided to go to Panajachel by Lake Atitlan. Although its not that far away, it turned into a bit of an adventure using the public buses here. All the public buses here are old school buses from America, and when packed full of people they aren´t really the most comfortable way of getting around , but squashed on a seat with 3 other people you get to meet some interesting locals. I think it took about 5 buses in the end, despite the conductor on the 3rd bus assuring me it went direct. The guy on the 4th bus said the same thing and so when it ended at a village by the lake I assumed I was there. After walking round for a long time trying to work out why things didn´t really match up with the map that I had, someone told me that the village I wanted was actually another 8km around the lake, so I had one more bus journey to do.

Panajachel is in a really nice location, right by the lake, surrounded by mountains. I enjoyed looking round the village and the old town in the afternoon. Unfortunately it is apparently not safe to walk around the lake alone, so the following day I took several boats to visit a couple of the other small villages around the lake. This was still a really nice day, the villages are all a bit different and are interesting to see the mix of colonial and traditional buildings and the majority of people still wear the brightly coloured traditional clothing. Today I wanted to travel on to Rio Dulce on the coast, but due top more financial problems I have spent all day either in banks or on the phone to the bank at home. Finally I have some money again, so I will be back on the buses again tomorrow.

Posted by katiew 14:00 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Copan and Antigua

sunny 28 °C

I finally started getting everything back to normal when I got to Copan. I spent a nice day here visiting the Mayan ruins. This was the first Mayan ruins I have seen so I was really impressed by them and learnt a lot about the Mayan culture and history of the area.
The following day I travelled to Antigua in Guatemala. A bit of a scary journey as I think the driver was trying to break some kind of speed record on the narrow mountain roads with a lot of lorries. Relieved to arrive safely I found a hostel and spent the rest of the day looking round the town. Its a really nice city, lots of impressive colonial buildings, and ruins from the many earthquakes. I enjoyed looking round the cathedral, from the main square it looks in good condition but in actually fact only a very small part of the building is in use, the rest of it is in ruins.
As I had enjoyed the afternoon there I decided to spend the next day, looking round more areas of the city, including some more ruins and churches, the museum and the market.

Posted by katiew 13:49 Archived in Honduras Comments (0)

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