Blogs from Laguna Chicabal, Western Highlands, Guatemala, Central America Caribbean


Yesterday 4 of us students hiked to Lake Chicabal which is a laked formed in a volcanic crater. It wa a beautiful hike but dam it was flippen´ steep. No switch backs here. I had a hard time of it but made to the lake without injury! Laguna Chicabal cannot be swam in as it is a sacred site to the Mayan. As you will see I have attached pictures wich means I have a new camera!!! There was a student leaving who sold me her camera, and honestly it is a major upgrade from the one that got stolen. THis one has a panoramic setting and a weird smile meter thingy. After the hike, I took a much needed shower and nap then it was off to a club for salsa! The band was great! ... read more
San Martin
SAn Martin

Friday afternoon was spent shopping in the large market a 15 minute walk from where we live. It´s huge and stocks almost everything you can imagine but takes a while to find your way around. The fruit and vegetables are excellent and very cheap - we bought a huge pineapple for around 50p and only paid about twice that for the rest of our veg to last us a few days. Hugh was feeling a little under the weather so collapsed in a heap on the sofa when we got back and I made some dinner. I think we were both asleep not long after 9pm! The alarm went off at 5.30am the next morning as we had arranged a trip to a nearby dormant volcano which has a lake in the crater which is a ... read more
We're at...Laguna Chicabel
Volcan Santa Maria next to Volcan Santiaguito erupting
Volcan Santiaguito erupting

The two weeks in the mountain school probably gave me more insight into Guatemalan life than anything else. Everyday we were shown an example of how life in Guatemala really is for the millions that live on little more than a dollar a day. The school is about a fifteen minute drive from a town called Columba, about an hour and a half west of Xela on the "Xela-ju" chicken bus route. I arrived early on Monday morning and was introduced to the other eleven students. All girls, except for poor old Thompson. He later became affectionately known as ´big bro´or ´dad. There was a nice mixture of people, most of us were between 22 and 30 with a sweet 18-year-old from Sweden, and then an organic gardener from New Zealand in her mid-30s and a ... read more

It probably doesn't deserve a whole entry to itself but I thought it'll be easier on you guys if we split our stories up a little. You don't want to be reading throught pages and pages, you'll get bored and I'll stop waffling now ;) On Sunday we booked a trip to a place called Laguna Chicabal. It used to be a volcano and now there is a lake in the volcano crater. It is a sacred Mayan/Mam place and lots of indegenous people go there to make offerings etc. It is forbidden to swim in the water but funnily enough you can fish there...very strange. It is a beautiful place and definitely worth going. The village is around 45 minutes from Xela and it is a 1 hour hike to the lake. According to the ... read more
I'm glad I don't have to carry that!
Starting point for our hike
Ed and one of our guides

Well I arrived at the highland town of Quetzaltenango a few days ago expecting it to be freezing, and although it is pretty chilly in the evenings the days have been lovely and warm- yey!!! No-one actually calls this town by its proper name- everyone calls it Xela (shay-la). No idea why!!! During the past few days I´ve been bumping into loads of different people that I´ve met in different places in Guatemala, which has been really nice. I´ve been to a football game (yes I know, very unlike me!), hot springs and a crazy church that was painted in garish colours. Then yesterday was my 29th birthday! Waaaaaaaa! There is normally some disaster or trauma that occurs on my bday, but I´m pleased to report that the day went well. The only problem was that ... read more
View of the lake after 2 hours of trekking!
Cake by the lake!
Laughing in the flowers

Yesterday was an adventurous day. I took a "chicken bus" about 45min out to a nonactive volcano to do some hiking. These busses are hilarious. They´re actually old school busses (complete with little-to-no leg room) all painted up in crazy colors emblazoned with religious sayings "dios es amor" "mi dios es real" etc. etc. as if that will keep them from getting out of accidents. (In my opinion, they could use some new brakes!!) We were all packed (and I mean packed) in there and the aisles were about 1/4 the size of regular school busses, so you can imagine the ordeal it was to enter/exit the bus. Especially for the old people. I ran into some ppl going to the same place, but they were hiking too slowly, so I (graciously) ditched them and ... read more
Hanging out at the lake
Avoiding the rain at the lookout point

Guate My single day in Guate (abr. Of Guatemala city) was enough for realizing, that it justly gained its bad reputation as a fucking dangerous city: All the groceries are closed by iron doors, and the owner serves you via a little window with SORAGIM; stores, which sell valuables, have private gunman standing at the entrance; and by night you here explosions and alarm. As I knew all of that in advance, I chose an hotel just near the airport, and tried not to wander around too much. And thus, ironically, after being used to wake up by the voice of the birds in my brother’s place in New-York, now I had to wake up from the noise of a Boeing 747, taking off just 10 meters above my head. Orchid The guidebook tells about a ... read more
Utatlan ruins
El Palmar Viejo

Hello everyone, I finally made it back to Xela yesterday from two weeks at the mountain school. I spent this past weekend in Tilapa Beach (near the border of Mexico) doing a volunteer project. More about that later though. The mountain school is about 1.5 hrs southwest of Xela. It was developed in 1997 as a sister school to Proyecto Linguistico Quetzalteco in Xela. The mountain school is within two communites- Fatima and Nueva San Jose. Both of these communities are very poor, and the mountain school serves as a means of income for these families. These communities have a very interesting history, but I only know the history of Neuva San Jose from a conference that we had the other night. Abelino gave us the conference (he is the uncle of my host mother) and ... read more
Piedad (my host grandmother)
Eunice, me, Alex, and Anna
Man collecting wood

On Friday night I went to Royal Paris, a French restaurant, with some of the girls from my host family. My friend Hugo, who I met through Boni (from Casa Xelaju office) and who I used to play music with, is in the group that was playing. They are called Sombrero Negro and their a latin-jazz/folk group that sounds really good. They have a guy who sings and plays a mean flamenco-esque style guitar, a guy who plays alto and tenor sax, a girl who sings, a foreigner who plays clarinet, Hugo on all types of precussion, and a girl who plays everything (while dancing). We stayed out late, thus making it hard to get up this morning (Saturday, May 13) at 6 am. Today I took the students to La Laguna Chikabal. It is a ... read more
Volcanic View
Lookin' Down on Chikabal
Entrance to Hike up La Laguna

Holy Frijoles, Just a few days ago Travis and I climbed Vocano Pacaya. HOnestly words cannot describe this experience. It was spiritual. We had no idea when we signed up for the trip that we would have the opportunity to climb to the summit. Pacaya is 1.25 miles high and the hike to get there is over two miles. We were winded after fifteen minutes of hiking the trail. After an hour an a half we reached a beautiful plateau that overlooked Guatemala City and the surrounding farm land. From that point we had a 360 degree view of the verdant landscape covered with more volcanos. We were also standing on Pumus sand from the daunting black hill towering over us. The wind began to pick up to about 30mph and the low growl of the ... read more

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