Published: June 1st 2012May 18th 2012
Rocking the Marimba
Rocking out on the Marimba!
Dear Blog Readers,
Another early start for the shuttle out of Honduras into Guatemala and another hot and uncomfortable ride. The border crossing was one of the smoothest and we laughed in the face of the money changer who tried to get 175 Questals for 500 Lemperas - we negotiated a much better 195 Questals from a man who saw us as normal human beings rather than gullible tourists. We quickly pushed through the horrific looking Guatemala City and eventually got to Antigua around lunchtime.
Antigua is a beautiful colonial city with brightly coloured houses and stone cobbled streets. We stayed at the wonderfully hippy sounding Holistico Hostel which was great and had an afternoon wandering the streets, getting our bearings and looking at a few churchs, or the remains of them, after years of earthquake destruction.
We booked a trip around the Azotea coffee plantation the day after which was just outside Antigua. Our tour started with a look around the music museum attached to it. I took note of some traditional Mayan drums which shall be used in the next theFALLEN album (I don´t know if I´ve mentioned this yet on the blogs but their debut
Much needed coffee.
release, "Bury Your Demons", is actually out now). I banged out Beethoven´s 3rd Movement of the Moonlight Sonata on the mirimba and remembered seeing it being played properly at the gig we went to in San Jose during Semana U.
After the music museum, we went around the coffee plantation and were transported from the planting of the seeds to a freshly made cup. I felt distinctly un-coffee-qualified since I hardly drink the stuff and there was a bloke there who boasted drinking 7 or 8 cups a day. One girl became genuinely fascinated by a pond with goldfish in it, "Oh My God! Goldfish! ....In a pond!!". However, the biscuit was well and truly taken when we came across a lime tree. One woman studied it for well over a minute, racking her brains for something, anything, to describe this tree, she settled for, "It´s so....LIMEY!". Good God woman. By the end of the tour, we were offered a free cup and I made mine a quadruple espresso.
In the evening there was a huge religious festival going on around the central park. We´ve no idea what they were celebrating but everybody looked mournful and the fireworks
Laura looking like she´s having too much fun instead of getting to work!
that were going off were absolutely deafening! Laura and I found a cool cafe showing movies so we watched the Iron Lady with a brew!
The following day we´d booked to hike Volcan Pocaya which we assumed was very active due to the photos of streaming molten lava flows and people perrilously looking over the crater edge. Unfortunately, the photos were taken a couple of years ago just before a huge volcanic eruption occured. Surely a claim for false advertising? We arrived at the base and were accosted by men on horses offering to give us a lift to the top for an extortionate fee. Laura didn´t particularly like the fact that a herd of horses were breathing down her neck (literally) all the way up! The views on the way were superb and our guide was great. At the top, he showed us some hot rocks and brought out a load of marshmallows to toast (what a hero!). The journey back down was even better with some superb views of the sunset and the volcano range in the distance.
Luckily the three Spanish words/phrases that I´d learned before coming to Central America were used in abundance the
Laura in heaven.
following day - bano, papel higienco and diarrea
. The street food here is delicious and ridiculously cheap but if it leaves you with the world falling out of your arse for the next few days then it´s probably not worth it! Laura went to book our shuttle to San Pedro on Lake Atitlan. As she stepped back into the hostel, a group who went there the day before returned looking a little shellshocked. After some discussion, we realised that they had been the target of a horrific hijacking where their shuttle was stopped by 5 or 6 guys with guns who shot the driver in the face (amazingly, not only did he survive, he carried on driving and dropped them all off in San Pedro!?). Once all their bags were stolen, they then shot at the minibus as it drove away and a passing motorcyclist who distracted them long enough for the shuttle to get away.
I didn´t know if I was shitting myself for fear of my life or the dodgy street food but I stayed in bed for the day. Laura booked herself in for a chocolate workshop at a museum nearby. She absolutely loved it and
On the way back down Volcan Pocaya looking at Volcan Fuego fuming.
went from start to finish making 20 chocolates which have already melted to oblivion. Hopefully they will be ok when we get back and put them in the fridge!
We decided to change our shuttle to the larger city of Panajachel. The travel agency looked genuinely shocked when we told her the story and by the sounds of it, it is very rare that the guns are ever actually used. When we arrived in Pana, the police presence was encouragingly large and we found a nice hostel near the lake. The room even had a TV so we watched Karate Kid in the evening (Laura informed me that she had never seen it before - I was nearly as shocked as when I heard the story of the shuttle bus hijacking).
The morning after, we got a little boat across to San Pedro. The little town was perfectly pleasant but the number for tourists on the street trying to sell bracelets, necklaces and drugs was hugely disappointing. In the evening, we booked ourselves a hot tub at a place called Los Thermales. The friendly owner solar heats the water and had it piping hot for us when we
Volcan Fuego blows!
arrived just as a huge thunderstorm came in. It was magical!
We got a boat back to Pana the morning after which was so quick it was skimming off the top of the small waves on the lake like a stone! Luckily neither of us get sea sick as this was about as good a test as any! We spent the afternoon checking out the awesome markets that line the streets and bought some really cool stuff from the locals. The rainy season has well and truly arrived as a torrential downpour seemed to occur every day around 4pm.
The shuttle back to Antigua was superb. The views of the lake as it winded up the mountainside were amazing. Annoyingly it was difficult to take photos whilst the bus was moving so you´ll have to see it for yourselves! Laura went out shopping again in the afternoon and in the evening, we had a great view of Volcan Fuego which was spewing lava. In the morning, the volcano had exploded and we had a spectacular view. As we piled into the minibus to head south to El Salvador, the main road was closed for "excessive smoke, toxic fumes
Beautiful clocktower in Antigua.
and potential lava flows" - I wonder how many times York City Council´s Highways and Maintenance have that for an excuse to close Hull Road?
Tink and Laura
There are more photos below