Blogs from Volcán Santa María, Western Highlands, Guatemala, Central America Caribbean


Time for trekking! We started off our trek in the ruins of Viejo Palmer (old Palmar) a town that was destroyed twice, once by volcanic eruptions in 1902 and then by an earthquake in 1976. Needless to say eventually they gave up and built Nuevo Palmar a few kilometres away. We had a very hot and sticky trek but luckily after a mere 20 minutes of walking (which involved crossing a very rickety, very long wooden bridge above a canyon - pretty tricky with our rucksacks!) we came to a river where we swam, or rather sat, in the lovely warm volcano heated water! For the first 2 or 3 hours we trekked through a savanna area, which was very sunny and hot but had fantastic views of Santa Maria and Santiaguito, Santa Maria being the ... read more
Indiana Jones Bridge 1
Swim stop 1
Mini Indiana Jones Bridge

Hola erstmal. Sprachschule ist kurz gesagt cool aber anstrengen. Muss noch viel lernen aber es ist schon eine kleine Verbesserung erkennbar. Xela wird von Tag zu Tag cooler. Hat viele Parks, kleine Restaurantes und Bars und vor allem gibts hier richtigen Kaffee....sonst hats bisher immer nur Instant-Bruehe gegeben. Schon komisch, im Land wo der Kaffee waechst trinkt man Instant-Coffee weil der meiste Kaffee nach Europa verkauft wird....bei den Fruechten ebenfalls, waehrend es hier gerade Probleme wegen einer schwachen Ernte und dadurch entstehnde Hungersnot gibt werden Obst und Gemuese exportiert.....gibt einen ein bisschen zu denken. Naja zu was anderen Am Freitag ist Edguardo wieder nach Xela gekommen und wir haben auch gleich einen mords "ziaga" gemacht. Waren alle voll wie die Russen und Edguardo hat auch bei unserer Familie gepennt weil er nicht mehr nach Hause gefunden ... read more
feurige comida in Guatemala

Yes, it´s true! I finally figured out how to get to and from school from my family in two different ways, and then on Saturday morning I moved! The other place was OK, but I was hoping for a place near Zona Tres (3) where San Marcos is, and with kids. Well, I have found it, and its only about two blocks from the school. A young couple moved into this house (Helen and Olger) and they have a baby daughter of a few months called Eliza. Helen also has two sisters living close by (Maciel and Norma) with spouses, and her mother Gloria. Then there is her brother Darwin and his wife Ana, who have a little boy whose 5th birthday was celebrated last night at our house (his name is Daniel) Also at the ... read more

Xela (sh-ela) is at around 2200m and gets very chilly at night. The big draw that brought us to Xela was to hike up the dormant volcano Santa Maria which stands at just over 3700m and peer down upon the active volcano Santiaguito (2500m) to watch its hourly eruptions. Eduardo was our man to lead this compelling adventure. Apparently he’s a famous character as he was proudly telling us of the personal mention he gets in the tours section of the Guatemalan Lonely Planet. It was a convenient 5am start as Eduardo and his wife Marta also ran the hostel that we were staying in so we just rolled out of bed into the back of their 4-by-4. We were joined by Peter a forty something German who was in his third year of an eight ... read more
Santigito erupting
Santigito post eruption

Beep, beep. Beep, beep. I raise my hand from beneath the sheets and into the freezing cold air of our room. In a quick flash the silence returns, but the damage is done. We are awake. It´s 4.30am in Quetzaltenango (Xela to the locals), deep in the Guatemalan highlands - hence the cold conditions. Today we climb a volcano! We fumble about as we dress in a semi-state of sleep, made even more difficult by the dim bulb no brighter than candle light. We pull on the layers - vest, long sleeve top, jumper, t-shirt, hoody, combats, woolly hat, the obligatory two pairs of socks and our trusty boots. We don´t have gloves but improvised by wearing socks on our hands instead. 5am standing on the dark street with only packs of wild dogs for company, ... read more
Rocks where the people were chanting
Does my bum look big in this?
Looking down on Volcan Santiaguito

Quetzaltenango, 07-02-1990. A taxi got us to the foot hills of the Santa Maria Volcan. We had a quick look at The pueblecito called Almolonga which was inhabited by indigenous people, their women still wearing colorful indian clothing, their men the more tradional cowboy stuff with huge sombreros. The hike up to the Santa Maria Volcan top was great but tiresome and took us most of the day. Some local families beat us to it and were already waiting up there with water and food. They seemed to have gone up there to pray to one of their deities, we decided not to ask. We were supposed to have a date tonight with Anne and Sue - we met them some weeks ago in Mexico - but opted to relax instead in our very special bar ... read more

now, i'm convinced that i'm not going to remember everything that happened in the past week, but i'm going to do my best here: so wrapped up my studies at the language school here in Xela which was great. There was a graduation ceremony and all the other students and teachers showed up. The students were in charge of bringing the food while the staff would bring the drinks. Well, since I don't know how to cook anything, and luckily another friend of mine doesn't either, we went in on a massive pizza together which was a huge hit. After that i said goodbye to Boris and Guisela, my "parents" here along with the abuela, Yumpy, and Balto. After that we went to a finca called Santa Anita were we spent the night there. it was ... read more
elvis look alike again
guy with the glasses was my teacher
some students got in on it too

so on friday i leave for Colomba where i will have probably limited internet access, so the next time i'll be able to post won't be until i'm in el salvador. It's crazy to think i'm 1/3 done with my semester abroad. My group and I took part in a Mayan Ceremony on tuesday which was fairly interesting. Later we found out what our Mayan symbols were. I'm not entirely sure what to make out of all of it. I was only able to understand bits and pieces but apparently my metal is silver, i have headaches daily and cramps once a month. i sincerely hope that i misunderstood that last part. Had i known that i had to pay to recieve this bizarre information, i probably would've passed on it. Our final class here in ... read more

well let's see, i believe the last time i posted i hadn't done the following: We all woke up at around 5:30 in the morning last saturday to hike up Chicobal, which is a volcano in Xela with a lake in the crater. the hike wasn't that bad. it started off being freezing (the mornings here are actually really cold), but once we were about half way up it started to warm up. There were some pretty great landscape shots. When we got to the lake there was an indigenous group singing along the shore, so we didn't want to venture to far over out of respect, but it was pretty great. i took some pictures, so i'll add 'em on. The next day we moved in with our homestay families. The couple who i'm living ... read more
start of hike

Okay, let’s see what has happened so far. We left Guatemala City at around 8:30 on Wednesday and got in to Xela around 1:30 or so. We had lunch here and had a little bit of class with our country coordinator. We went out to the markets and split into groups to buy food, clothes, school supplies, and medical supplies with 25 quetzales each. Apparently 25 quetzales is the average daily income for rural Guatemalans. I’m not sure what that translates into for dollars, but I think it’s really really not much. So I was in the group that was to get medical supplies, so we went to a pharmacy and struck up a conversation with the druggist and with 25 quetzales, we couldn’t get much. A bottle of pepto bismal was 32 quetzales and Tylenol ... read more

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