Richard Watts

Janner gone Westerer!
Living in: Plymouth, United Kingdom
  • Day60

    Leaving Antigua, finally!

    June 23, 2018 in Guatemala ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    Antigua is a cool place, a bit expensive, but nice. After three weeks, I was ready to leave!
    The plan was to head to The Driftwood Surfer in El Paredon, and that’s what we did!!we booked a shuttle, but it was over sold, so 3 of us ended up in a car. Legroom for days, pretty happy about that. Although, the car needs it’s front breaks looking at, they were dodgy!
    Got to the beach and went out body surfing. Nice.
    The hostel is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, right on the beach. They do a family style dinner in the evening, it’s all you can eat, so suits me! The beach is like a big long version of Perran Sands. A beach break with tonnes of rips and okay surf.
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  • Day58

    Volcan Acatenango

    June 21, 2018 in Guatemala ⋅ 🌧 22 °C

    I tried booking in for the tour, and on a Wednesday, I was the only person booked in. On Thursday, there were 18 of us!
    Meeting at the Whico & Charlie’s tour place at 7:30, picked up some kit and had breakfast. Needless to say there was an Aussie couple on the tour, and a dutchie I’d met in Utila, so we had a natter while we waited to leave.
    We left at 9am and we walking by 10:10, off up the side of a sleeping volcano.
    Acatenango sits at about 3970m above sea level, and this is the best place to get a good look at Volcán de Fuego, the very active volcano which has caused all the trouble near Antigua. The bottom of the climb is 2300m, so a fair whack of climbing, and it would be the highest I would have been so far!
    The first half was pretty easy with some steep sections, but all pretty much a path of volcanic ash. We stopped half way to base camp for lunch and then plodded on. Not much to see apart from fur trees and a sandy path, but got chatting to some people and all was good.
    The nice surprise came about 45 minutes from the camp, we turned a corner onto a straight bit path and there was Fuego, blowing off some stream as if it knew we were coming. We had an awesome view of Agua too from here and everyone was get pictures of themselves up a tree. A dead sketchy tree on the side of a steep hill, I opted out!
    Basecamp was reached and everyone was pretty happy. The view was awesome and the last little goat trail patch was out of the way. That climb was easier than the Agua hike by a mile, but we hadn’t summited yet, another 400m of up to go!
    The guides decided that our best chance at a view was to go the same day, so everyone got ready to with warm clothes and torches, I had all the kit, but I was not quite prepared for the climbs to the summit!
    It started on some steep rough walking paths with the occasional exposed section. It then quite quickly turned in to open hill side of boot packed ash. The only thing I can liken it too is a mountain with snow on it. Very similar, except dark grey an a bit slippy. My vertigo was getting twitchy! About another 10 minutes of that and then it turned into a scramble. Everyone else had walking sticks, I was quite glad I didn’t at this point. The main panic cake for me when, in sight of the summit, we had to scramble along a ridge with a 100m drop off to the right. I couldn’t look and started to dread the thought of walking down. I think my long legs helped me, along with the adrenaline, a last push to the top and I was third up after the guide and someone else who wanted to see the back of the climb. The view from the top was pretty special and there were some high fives going round as the last section was nuts!
    On top of the sleeping beast, there’s a crater with an ash shelter, for if you get cause out. The peak is also the other side to Fuego, so walking around the crater is where the view was. The pictures speak for themselves, a awesome view of Agua and the clouds, and of course, Fuego. We spent about 45 minutes on the top before the dreaded decent back to base camp. Once again, I was not looking for to this! In reality, it was so much fun! We quite literally ran down the side of the volcano. It was a big ash field and was just like running down sand dunes. The 45 minute hike to the top was now only a ten minute run back to the camp before sundown, for hot chocolate and food.
    It wasn’t long before the evening turned to night and the storm started. The camp being perched on the side of a steep hill at 3500m, you are really up in he clouds. It was loud and went on all night till 5am when the sun started coming up. The best thing I saw, when everyone else had gone to bed, was three bolts of lightening all converging to hit the top of Fuego, at the same point. It happened twice, pretty spectacular! We also saw a very small eruption, a little lava goes anting way!
    In the morning, we headed aback down at 6:45 and it was all fairly dull until a couple of us decided to run down. The paths were slippy and it was just easier, and a lot more fun. There was also beer at the bottom 😋
    I’m glad I did, definitely something I’ll not forget in a hurry.
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  • Day46

    Volcan de Agua

    June 9, 2018 in Guatemala ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

    Four hours sleep isn’t the best start for climbing a volcano, but what can you do? Up at 6 and out for 6:45 to meet at 7. Guatemala time is an excuse, but in reality, everyone runs late because of the busses or roads, or some religious festival, so we ended up getting the four of us, plus dog, for about 8:15.
    We got off the bus in Santa Maria de Jesus and headed to o the tourist office to pay for our entry and pick up our park ranger type dude. He was quite old and wearing dress trousers, boots, a hi-vis vest and carrying a machete. He would take us up to the end of bandito alley, then on to about 2600m. The village sits at 2050m, Agua looms over the whole area at about 3700m, it’s a beast!
    The bottom slopes are all really difficultly cultivate farm land and you can see how people may get robbed in this bit as the people are very poor and you are quite remote. Everyone we met, mostly under 18, were happy and said hello.
    We had set off from the road at 8:50am,
    the path up the first part part was basically rocks filled in with mud, sort of what was expected, and got a little steep fairly early, it wasn’t to get much easier.
    We thought it might take us 3.5 hours and when we said goodbye to the ranger at 2700m, we were an hour and a half in, so on track. The climb was pretty relentless the whole way up, but having an overly energetic Rat Terrier with you was awesome. Scooter was his name and he understands English and Spanish, my favourite dog yet!
    On we walked to the crater on the top, on the way we passed the scar in the southern face that gives the volcano its name. About 300 years ago, find the wiki for when, there was a massive landslide that wiped out the village below it. Not too far off the situation with Fuego the week before!
    We just about reached the crater before it started raining and at that altitude it was tough on the lungs, but more so the temperature drop was really noticeable. The rain then turned into hail! Things got a lot colder really quickly! We headed into the shelter in the crater, next to a small football pitch, where we stayed for 45 minutes. The hail didn’t stop! I stuff my face full of banana bread whilst the guys made espresso, which we drank from half a coconut fashioned into a cup. I’m not sure why this was, to save weight? Nope, the guide had brought one of those Italian percolator things, a bit over the top!!
    We needed to get on with heading down, so we braved the hail. I was not looking forward this next bit, but it had to be done, back down the same path we went, clouds obscuring any chance of a view, a massive shame as this peak dominates this area.
    The path down was now like a mud slide and everyone fell quite soon on. I actually got really into it and enjoyed the challenge. The clime has taken us about four and a half hours, longer than we thought, the down would be quicker, we thought...
    The clouds finally cleared a bit on the way down and we got a glimpse at the view we knew was there. You could see for a very long way! I did take any camera or phone with me just in case we were robbed, but luckily Dave (Paul from Holland, someone in the home stay) did, so I have his photos.
    We finally got to the bottom, mentally and physically exhausted, but smiling. It had taken us 9 hours top to bottom, epic!
    We walked back through the town, which had a festival on and some of the people we saw were dressed in tradition dress, jumped on a chicken bus back to Antigua, and walked home. My legs were killing!
    It was a full on 12 hour day, but one of the best things I’ve done on the this trip so far by a mile. I thought it would be hard, I mange’s it okay, but walking for that long up and then down something quite steep in trail running shoes was a challenge. Effort and reward, that’s what it’s all about right?!
    Such a good day and shout out to Paul, Kayley, Josias and most of all Scooter the dog.
    It’s now five days later and my legs have almost stopped hurting.
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  • Day43

    Today

    June 6, 2018 in Guatemala ⋅ 🌧 19 °C

    Everything is fine with us in Antigua, but closed by it’s a bit Grimm. It shat it down with rain yesterday and they had to stop work at ground zero, now all the ash has turned to mud. It went off again yesterday, but the only the locals are worries about in this town, apart for their neighbours, is that tourists are staying away. It’s really safe!
    This Photo from the top of my Spanish school, it put on a small show for us!
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  • Day42

    Back in school

    June 5, 2018 in Guatemala ⋅ 🌧 20 °C

    First day at Spanish school today, it was okay. I’m doing 4 hours 8-12 in the morning and staying with a local family. They seem really nice and there are 3 other students staying there too. The room is a lot to be desired, but it’s £125 for 5 days of lessons and 7 nights board, with 3 meals a day! Not to be sniffed at!
    I’ve just done my home work in the chocolate museum here, I had my first icecream, but not is absolutely kacking it down with rain and I’m stuck here. Oh well!
    Not much else to report, a bit of ash today, but nothing to bad. The relief operation is still going on at the volcano as the death toll rises, I think this rain will make it tough going, that situation is not good all round.
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  • Day40

    Its raining ash, again

    June 3, 2018 in Guatemala ⋅ 🌧 20 °C

    I had a disco kip this arvo, woke up and everything had gone black. Rain + volcano = lots of cleaning! A couple of hours later, it did it again!
    Apparently the volcano, Fuego, is more active right now that it has been in a while. Looks like I’ll be staying inside for a bit then. Tours have been cancelled and lava bombs landing in the basecamp. All good fun!Read more

  • Day39

    Antigua

    June 2, 2018 in Guatemala ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

    Travel day! Ish. A bit of a lazy one today. Got up about 8:30, listen to the cricket, went and had a really good breakfast, listen to some more cricket!
    I left Copan just after 12pm, got in the back of a van and was told there would be only 3 of us, including the driver, going to Antigua. The other person was a nice Mexican woman and her two Chiauas (in a cat box). Boarder crossing took five minutes, happy days! I’m sure it would have taken a lot longer on a full bus!
    The sun is out and the driver is giving it some beans, so hopefully we’ll be kind of on time, for Latin America. It’s all mountain roads, so some great views. Many dogs, the odd horse and road works seem to be all else that’s going on. Only another 5 hours to go...
    There soil erosion everywhere, so I can see why there are so many roadworks. The roads in some places are covered with mud and rocks, this being the start of the rainy season, I’m sure it will get worse! I’m writing this in the back of the van, if you hadn’t guessed, something to do with the time.
    Five and a half hours and still going. More road works and lots of land slides later, we are through a mountain pass and back on a dual carriage way, hooray! 91km to go, let’s see how long this takes...5 minutes later we get pulled over by the police, but all is good. Onwards!
    Arrived, late, raining, cold. Just like a British summers night! Saw Ozzie Abbey for a beer before she heads to Utila.
    Hostel has triple high capsule beds, I’m in the middle, but didn’t really suss anything out in the light, so if I need to get up in he night, it’s gonna be a game! Good night
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