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Published: September 17th 2008
Last day in Gautemala… went up the Pacaya volcano. Amazing… we surfed, scrambled and fell over lava fields and rocks, We got ridiculously close to flowing lava.… my feet got hot, the soles of my trainers went sticky! We stayed till it got dark, it was somewhat dangerous, but a great experience.
Just over the border to Copan, Honduras. Small colonial town, not as nice as Antigua. The people are quite different, very western…. No traditional dress at all.
Mayan ruins also quite different from others we’ve seen. No tall pyramids but more carvings and statues. A small ball court with parrot heads instead of the rings seen on others.
Saw a load of colourful parakeets and a few copabarries (dunno how to spell these).
6-7 hours travel to the island of Utila near the popular diving destination of Roatan, Bay Islands. Very hot and sticky, many, many mossies and sand flies. Very beautiful though. English is spoken (though the Garifuna locals are quite hard to understand) Snorkelling tour finishing on a deserted island. (sunburn all round) Saw Barracuda, Puffer fish and a huge star fish very close to the shore.
Next stop San Ignacio…. Quite a nice little town…
stopped here as there are many rivers and caves offering tubing and canyoning opportunities.
Overnight in Tegucigalpa…. Noisy busy place… horrid.
Granada next….nice colonilal town by lake Nicaragua. Visited local villages, one was a pottery village where we saw the process from start to finish…. Sadly unable to buy anything, but the stuff was stunning. Then a village specialising in growing plants…. Very lovely.
We went for a swim in a lake which is home to fresh water sharks.
Next stop … Ometepe, (chicken boat), a volcanic Island on Lake Nicaragua.
Hiked half way up a volcano to a waterfall.
Over the border into Costa Rica…. . Bumpy ride on unmade roads to Monte Verde up in the cloud forest.
Cool and wet, very wet! Quakers dairy farmers from the states settled here in the 50’s to avoid being drafted into the army. (Costa Rica has had no military since the 40’s.)
Ziplining over the canopy, visit to a frog sanctuary. … tiny, colourful little frogs.… many poisonous.
Beautiful views down the mountain to cross lake Arenal on the way to La Fortuna. First classy hotels/resorts we’ve seen in Central America…. But we’re not staying in one! Nice town, loads
to do here…. More ziplinig, canyoning, horse riding, caving and a nice hot springs resort.
Kev and I took a Safari Float down a river…. guided by Danny, and an excellent time ….even getting soaked in a tropical storm. Visited the house of his friend Graybin in the jungle…. Pedro, the grandfather (96 and perfectly lucid) had purchased the land for 500 colones ($1) 75 years ago and has lived there ever since (having only ever travelled as far as Arenal volcano a few miles away when he was 15)…Graybin was brought up there by his 2 aunties after his mother left for the city. The wooden house was on stilts, with no electricity or running water. The kitchen was downstairs with an ancient range and a mud floor. They are self sufficient, growing their own crops, keeping a few pigs, chickens and cows, and the only access is by river. The nearest neighbours are over a mile away…. And that’s just how the old boy likes it. We were given excellent home made coffee and nibbles….. Fried plantain, peach palms and home made cheese.
A huge storm keep us from continuing for a while, so we chatted with Pedro
in his room… he was so friendly and obliging…. And said we could stay the night if the rain persisted. …but that he only had one bed so it would be a bit cosy!
The visit to Pedro’s was a highlight for me, I felt quite humbled to be invited into his family home. (there should be a tear in your eye at this point!)
Last day of the volcano trail, ending in San Jose….. the 3rd leg of our Central America journey. The 3 first trips were full capacity (15 people)…for the last leg there’s only 4 of us and a new guide.
First stop, 3 nights in Puerto Viejo, a smallish old fishing village on the Caribbean coast close to the Panama border.
Pretty tropical hotels that’s more outside than inside. Unfortunately there is a desperate water shortage at the moment…. Sometimes there is no water at all.
1st day went on an ATV tour through some jungle to a waterfall (film set for Blue Butterfly starring William Hurt….never heard of it!) Got stuck in mud….. Timi our Hungarian girl rolled hers. Didn’t see much wildlife, but our Rasta guide, Raoul was very cool… (Dreds to his
Kev took a surfing lesson… despite what he may say, I captured the nearest to standing that he got!!…. The instructor said “Lay on the board, do a push up with your arms then just jump up to a standing position” ….Yeah right!!..… I’m not so silly….I just sat on the beach and laughed. Admittedly, the water was a bit rough for a first lesson… but the young German guy with us, Roberto, did really well.
Went up the coast a few miles to Manzanilla for a guided jungle walk with Ricky a very knowledgeable guy. Saw howler monkeys, a sloth, an anteater, vipers, spiders, huge locusts, and hummingbirds nest with a baby, frogs and toads, lizards, iguanas and many birds. We were told loads about the plants, fruit and trees…. The fruit of one tree (which has been used for cancer treatment) stank like Gorgonzola!
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