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Published: December 10th 2007
So far, so good. Since leaving Mexico we have passed through Guatemala, Honduras and are now in Nicaragua. The down side of this has been the tedium and frustration of border crossings. Each border is manned either side by a series of officious uniformed personnel, situated in different offices clustered around the border. Multi-tasking hasn´t reached Central America yet. To start you go as directed to the first office where the document distributer gives you your documents. Then you are sent to another office to the man who stamps the documents. Then off to the man who copies the documents, before moving on to the office where the man shuffles the documents, walks round the office and scratches his backside. After finishing this chain of events you are sent to the other side of the border to repeat the whole process in the other country. Surely they can find one individual capable of document distribution, stamping, copying, shuffling and bum scratching. This would reduce the whole process from two hours to ten minutes. On a similar note my love affair with my crocs has become tarnished. In Honduras we were stopped at a police road block for checks, as all our
San Pedro Market
Nik ´High Tower, Man Mountain´Carter.
paper work was in order the best they could come up with was a ticket for driving in crocs. With my licence confiscated and a threat with a $250 fine our negotiating skills in Spanish were tested to the full. In the end we managed to bung him a $25 ´Harry Redknapp´and fortunately we were sent on our way. Our first point of call in Guatemala was at Lake Atitlan. This is described as perhaps the most beautiful lake in the world, 50sq km´s of crystal clear water filling a huge volcano crater with three dormant volcanoes on the lake shores. Not sure how you measure lake beauty as it is pretty subjective but it certainly is on par with Southsea´s canoe lake. We spent a day village hopping around the lake by boat. This region of Guatemala is the home of indigenous people wearing traditional dress best witnessed going about their business in the busy market, oblivious to the presence of the odd outsider. The other reason I like mingling in the markets is because at my usual height of 6 ft I feel much taller due to the fact that the average height of these locals is about
An ancient toblerone
3ft 2". This is probably because they spend most of their lives walking around with heavy objects balanced on their heads i.e. bundles of firewood, baskets of laundry and the odd canoe. We think they may be from the ´Helarwe Tribe´as they can be heard cutting their way through the undergrowth chanting ´we´re the Helarwe´. You know I think I could get a game at second row out here.
Having read the Guatemalan section of our Lonely Planet it just happened to mention that there had been robberies, rapes and murders in the highlands. Which way were we going ?.... through the highlands. When we came face to face with a group of guys with machetes and big black bandito style droopy moustaches, I feared the worst. Nik put his foot down and off we went. I´d like to think they were on a wood cutting expedition, but they didn´t look to friendly wealding their choppers in the rear view mirror. We reached our refuge in Antigua, a colonial town with cobbled streets, coloured houses and a generous splattering of churches. The hostel was great fun, we were the oldest foggies in town, of course. We arrived on the all-u-can
Really hot stuff
eat bbq night. I think Nik won that competition. Then it was time for party games. I had to do the musical chairs while Nik scowled from a distance. Our team won the passing the tea spoon down your clothes game but I was useless at the suck and blow competition (don´t ask). Nik came into his element when we rounded the evening off with drinking games. Our highlight in Antigua was a hike up a live volcano, hence the title. We started in daylight and reached the lava just before sunset. I dont think health and safety has been introduced over here yet. The lava could be seen glowing beneath our feet and you couldn´t stand in one place for too long. The smell of sulphar did, however, disguise the gasses eminating from Nik´s rearend. The view at night was awesome, bright orange lava spewing down the mountain side with the reflection high above in the night sky. Next stop Honduras and across another border. Our first port of call was the Mayan ruins at Copan. Very spectacular with their pyramidal structures and stories of human sacrifices. Thank goodness we wern´t born 2,000 years ago. The next must see
Celaque National Park
Come out come out wherever you are.
in Honduras was Celaque National Park. The guide book stated tht it was where monkeys, ocelots, pumas and the rare quetzal bird could be sighted. We woke early, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Had a huge bowl of porridge , good hiking fuel and set off on our 5 hour trek through deepest darkest Honduran forest. It could be likened to trekking through a hugh botanical garden. We crept quietly along the trail and rounded every corner in anticipation. At the end of the hike we were rewarded with an array of mosquito bites and a butterfly sighting. The pit stop for weary travellers at this point was Alehandera´s rustic kitchen. The host seemed to be older than God and had been cooking there on a clay oven and open fire for the last 56 years all with less utensils than she had teeth and no electricity or running water.
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