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September 26th 2008
Published: September 28th 2008
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The kids celbrating with a run.
The ride from Semuc Champey was an adventure in itself! A collectivo, a vehicle about the size of a large van, is a main source of transportation in Guatemala. With 21 people crammed into it, we started our trip to Xela. The driver could serioulsy enter the Indy 5oo the way he was racing down the windy, bumpy roads, taking corners so fast that the tires were screeching. Even the locals on the collectivo seemed a bit nervous at is driving. The driver must have sensed his passengers apprehensivenss as he turned up the bass in the music to mask the screeching sounds. For about an hour we just held on, trying not to look at the road as our crazed bus driver zipped in and out of cars and music almost deafened us. A couple buses later and a full day traveling we made it safely to Xela. We spent Guatemala Independence day here. During the day the kids celebrate by gatrhering in groups and while carrying torches and blowing whistles they run around the city. At night the streets becoming crowded with people. Parades of marching bands make thier way through the streets. Sounds of drums, hoots and hollers

The band marches on.
and drunken peopl carried on late in the night. Xela is a nice town, with lots of day trips possible, but Ryan was hit with a really bad stomach bug which left us immobile for 3 days. Problably the worst either of us has been sick on any of our trips. Ryan still not feeling 100 percent, we forced on to Panajachel. Another interesting trip as we were stuck for about 20 minutes as trackers tried to clean up a rock sldie that had happended a few hours previous. A few fights were close to breaking out as the drivers each wanted to be the first through when the rocks were finally cleared. It was absolute mayhem. Located right on Lake Atitlan, with views of the volcanos, Pana is a touristy small town with one main road lined with restaurants and bars and stalls selling all sorts of jewllery and clothing. We did a lake tour and visited 3 smaller towns across the lake. It wsa then time to make our way to Antigua. I've ben quite excited for Anigua since the start of this trip as it is the starting off point for Volcan Pacaya, a volcano we climbed

Guatemalan women in traditional dress.
to celebrate my 28th birthday! We climbed for about an hour up through jungle and and then, all of a sudden, the jungle clears and you are half way up this volcano, standing on black lava rocks. It was perfect weather for the trip, overcast and misty, so the volcano looked incredible, peaking out from the clouds. We climbed up a bit further and got our first glance of bright red, flowing lava. A bit further and we were standing meters away from the lava. As you are standing on the hardened lava, you could hear the lava rushing and sizzling just beneath your feet. Pieces of rock would crumble if you stepped in the wrong place. Meg fell and cut her ankle up pretty bad, bet you thought it would have been Ryan that fell eh? When a gust of wind came, the heat from the lava was tremendous. It was an amazing trip. We booked through our hostel, the Black Cat, and even though the guide hurried us at the top of the volcano it was a great time. After, we went out for a nice dinner at one of the many nice restaurants. A perfect end to a great birthday. Next stop was Rio Dulce, a lakeside town popular for yachties and boat access to Livingston. We went out on Saturday night for drinks and ended up running into an American guy we had met earlier in our trip. He was there with some friends from the orphanage they are volunteering at. We had drinks with them, went on to another bar with them and finally called it a night around 2 am. We slept most of Sunday away and finally on Monday got around to the river trip to Livingston, then on to Tela, Honduras. We are now in the Bay Islands. Its a great island with a nice beach and snorkeling within swimming distance. We have a nice studio apartment, with our own kitchen. Finally able to save some money by eating in! Gonna stay here for the weekend and enjoy ourselves in the sun.

Additional photos below
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San AntonioSan Antonio
San Antonio

One of the small towns we visited on our lake trip.

Packed in like sardines.

One of the three volcanoes that surround Panajachel guatemala.

Church in Antigua built in 1729.

View of one of the other volcanos from half way up the one we were climbing.

From Volcan Pacaya.

Us ... and it was really hot taking this photo.

It is prohibited to bring on fire arms!!!
Sunset Sunset

Sunset on Roatan Bay Islands Honduras.

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