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  • Day172

    Flores was super fun because of the arrival of five familiar faces 😃

    When the girls arrived from Belize I was SO happy to finally see them. It was hilarious because I ran up to hug them but there was a man in front of them slowly walking on crutches and I couldn't help but laugh, although it probably seemed like i was laughing at him.

    We caught up over a few drinks and some food and headed to bed pretty early, because we had to get up at 2.30am the next day for Tikal.

    Tikal is an old Mayan site of temples and ruins. We got there for around 5am after a huge pilava over whether we needed our passports for entry or not - too much stress for that early in the morning.

    When we got there we watched the sunrise but because it was overcast it was not that spectacular. We then had a 4-hr tour around the site which included climbing up to the top of the temples and seeing some of the wildlife in the area (monkeys, tarantulas, etc).

    This was good but we were very tired and hadn't eaten anything. By the time the tour finished at 10am we had been awake and eaten nothing for nearly 8 hours and were starving - breakfast was guuurd.

    We went back to the hostel and had a nap, played cards and generally just caught up which was so nice. We got pizzas and salads to share in the evening and had a few drinks which was fun.

    We're headed to Semuc Champey in the morning and I'm really looking forward to that. So nice to have the girls here for the next two or so weeks 😃 let the good times roll.
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  • Day173

    From Flores we moved onto Lanquín for tubing, caving, and Semuc Champey.

    It took us eight hours on the bus but the time was passed playing 'would you rather' and annoying every other passenger with our inappropriately loud conversations. We were pumped to have arrived in Lanquín and got a shuttle up the hill to our hostel, Zephyr Lodge. The setting of the hostel was amazing - set in between the hills of the Guatemalan highlands. We were excited to be there and had a really fun first night at the hostel.

    The next day we woke up and did the tubing but Al wasn't able to come because she had spent most of the night over the toilet being sick (a sign of things to come).

    I've done tubing before in Colombia, but this was different because the current was a lot stronger and you had to be careful of falling into trees. I had loads of fun but getting out of the river was so stressful because of the current. I ended up falling out of my tube, hitting a tree trunk and losing all my beer. After that we got back to the hostel in the afternoon and carried on the drinking by the pool, as the sun was out.

    The day after we did the day trip to Semuc Champey. First we went to the Kaa'mba caves, where we did caving. At first I found this mildly terrifying because you have to swim through caves which are pitch black, so you have to hold a candle to light the way. As we went further into the cave I chilled a bit more, and it was good fun because you went really deep in and saw waterfalls. The way back was equally as intense because I was at the front and didn't have any light in front to help lead the way.

    After a BBQ lunch we walked up to a viewpoint to see the natural waterfalls and pools of Semuc Champey. They were really pretty, and the countryside around it is really beautiful too. We then walked down and were able to swim in them for a while. After we got the shuttle back and spent the evening playing cards and other games.

    The next day we were supposed to be getting the bus to Antigua, but a lot of us had got ill after eating the food at Zephyr. Lottie was too ill to take the 12 hour bus to Antigua, and after a pretty stressful morning we decided to stay in Lanquín for another night and see if she was better the next day. Three of us had to move hostels because there wasn't any more room at Zephyr.

    Luckily it was a really sunny day, so while Lottie slept it off we spent the day by the pool getting tans. In the eve we had a pretty chill evening because we were all really tired and wanted to be on top form to made sure we got the bus the next day.

    The next day, Lots had recovered enough to get the bus, but it was Laura's turn to feel sick. Despite all the illness, and having to squeeze onto the bus and share seats because the bus company had oversold tickets, we managed to get the bus to Antigua second time round. After everyone hyping up the journey as one of the worst things they'd ever done we were pretty happy to arrive in Antigua only 9 hours later (instead of the 12 hours everyone has said) in high spirits.
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  • Day178

    We got on the bus. Celebrations! It was still pretty stressful, with the bus company overselling tickets, meaning they had to 2 people in 1 seat. But we got on the bus to Antigua!

    9 hours later, we got there in pretty high spirits and cooked some homemade couscous and started pre-drinking ready for our night out: the infamous Saturday Antigua pool party.

    I don't exactly know what went wrong - I'd like to think it was because I had become used to drinking the watered down alcohol at Zephyr Lodge for the past four nights - but I definitely drank far too much and remember too little. What I do remember I think I would rather forget.

    The next morning, after a few sore heads, we got together to try and piece together what happened last night over breakfast. We then headed out to the local artisan market and they must of seen us coming because between us we bought the whole place. After we had lunch at Bagel Barn and then decided to go to the supermarket to get snacks for Acetenango.

    That night we went out for pasta to fill our stomachs and debated whether it was possible we could get hypothermia on the mountain the next day.

    All in all, Antigua was short but sweet.
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  • Day179

    It's taken me a while to summon up the strength to write about Acetenango. I joke, but this one is a hard one to right... stick with me and you'll soon understand why.

    We were picked up at 8am by an old school bus, and taken to a house outside of Antigua to pick up our equipment for the hike. Although extremely chaotic, we were eventually given sleeping bags, a tent, mats and food for the next 2 days. There wasn't enough food to go around - a sign of things to come.

    We then drove for another hour to the starting point of the hike. At this point, we rented walking sticks and hats. Phi's bag was towered over her head, and lots of the Guatemalans were laughing and pointing at us, telling us that we would regret not getting porters to carry our bags.

    The first part of the hike was a complete shock to the system. With our 10kg+ bags we walked uphill for what felt like an eternity, although it was probably only for about 20 minutes. A few breaks on, we made it to the halfway point. This was my low point as I started feeling really drained of energy. The hike up to base camp was 4 hours of pure uphill, probably one of the most physically demanding things I have ever done.

    When we arrived at base camp, we were all in high spirits to have arrived. It was pretty cold, at around 3,600 metres above sea-level. Our tents were assembled and with six of us in a tent we were pretty confident that we would have a warm night's sleep. This illusion was shattered when we found that our tent didn't properly close and had a huge gaping hole at the bottom.

    With our lovely group, we sat around a campfire with some tunes, pot noodles and hot chocolate. It was a bit later into the evening when one of our guide's (the bright spark) came up with the idea of sewing our tent shut with a needle and thread. Begger's can't be choosers and that was the only solution we had.

    Around 8pm we all collapsed into bed. Freezing cold and pretty uncomfortably, we were sewn into our tent and "slept" untill 3.30am. Throughout the night we were woken up with the sounds of the heaven's opening - and our tent leaked and my sleeping bag and shoes got completely soaked. After little rest, we were woken up at 4am to walk to the summit to see Volcan de Fuego erupting.

    It is probably at this point that I should actually mention the whole reason we were doing this hike - not because we are insane human beings who enjoy 4hr uphill hikes and freezing cold conditions. The point of this hike is because, from Acetenango, you can see the active Volcan de Fuego erupting at night. Tbf, this was absolutely wicked. The volcano is steaming and erupting all the time, and in the pitch black you can see the lava exploding. Without a doubt one of the coolest bits of nature I've seen on my whole travels.

    So, at 4am we started the 1.5hr steep uphill hike to the summit. I found this part a lot easier than the hike the day before with our heavy bags, although I know a lot of people struggled more with this part. The gravel slips below you as you try and climb up to the summit. When we arrived, my brief joy was soon overcome with some of the harshest winds I have ever experienced and it was freezing cold. We were on the top for around 20 minutes, with enough time to see an amazing sunrise over the whole of Antigua/ Guatemala City/ the volcanoes, before starting the descent down.

    So going down should be the easy part right? Wrong. Nothing about Acetenango could be described as 'easy'. Going down was like freestyle skiing over loose gravel and I was terrified of falling headfirst. Alice and I slowly descended, reaching base camp before packing up our tents. We then started the 2 hr descent back to the starting point. This was a different type of endurance and my knees were in absolute pain because of the steep downhill. It was also so slippy because it had been raining all night. Reaching the end was amazing and we had celebratory beers before getting the bus back to Antigua.

    Looking back, I don't know if I'll ever be sure if it was entirely worth it. It was definitely one of the most physically demanding things I have ever done. But tbh, getting to watch an erupting volcano was pretty cool.
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  • Day10

    Rondom Lake Atitlan liggen 12 dorpjes met elk hun eigen sfeer. Na een rit over smalle bergwegen met gaten die onderweg opgevuld werden met zand 😂 werden we afgezet in San Marcos, een hippie dorpje. Nou dat hebben we geweten... Er waren een paar verloren hippies te vinden, een leeg hostel, nauwelijks eettentjes maar wel honderd holistische praktijken, je kunt begrijpen dat we de volgende ochtend meteen de boot hebben gepakt naar San Pedro; een superleuk dorpje vol met backpackers.

    De kleding van de Guatemalaanse vrouwen ziet er in deze streek heel mooi uit met veel kleurtjes. Later hoorden we dat dit komt doordat toen de Spanjaarden kwamen ze wilden dat ze bij hun groep zouden blijven en aan deze kleding waren ze van andere groepen te onderscheiden. Helemaal niet zo heel leuk dus...

    We zijn met Juan (een echte Maya ja, ja we hebben er een van de 3% die er zijn in Guatemala gevonden!) de indian nose gaan beklimmen (de nose hebben wij er overigens nooit in gezien haha) vanaf waar we een prachtig uitzicht over het meer en vulkaan San Pedro hadden. Na een paar wijze levenslessen van deze Maya zijn we achterop een auto gesprongen (de manier van vervoer hier;) om vervolgens het lokale bier en cocktails uit te proberen. Uiteindelijk zijn we op een mislukte jungle party beland waar we hebben gedanst op wazige muziek met een op ons lijkende Belg en een stuiterende Engelse. Het was een mooie avond...

    Nu in de bus richting Antigua met 2 extra nummers in onze playlist: "bumpy ride" & "cowboys en indianen" 🎧
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  • Day12

    Antigua, eigenlijk te leuk om deze voormalige hoofdstad die in de 16e eeuw door een aardbeving is verwoest in maar 10 punten te beschrijven, maar we gaan het proberen:

    1. Het Utrecht van Guatemala
    2. Pacaya vulkaan beklommen
    3. Sportiefste groepje 😉💪🏼
    4. Veel regen...
    5. Viewingpoint
    6. Met schermafbeelding op de foto
    7. Alvast onze stamkroeg gevonden voor als we daar komen wonen
    8. Tequilla roulette met onze Guatemalaanse vrienden
    9. Cocktails met veeel Mezqual
    10. Somos hostel!
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  • Day14

    Alweer onze laatste stop in Guatemala. Het is een beetje Belize meets Guatemala hier. Een klein eilandje bij de Rio Dulce vanaf waar je twee keer per week met de boot naar Belize kan. Er is niet veel te doen, maar we zijn hier ook maar één dag en dat is genoeg om de jungle rondom de Rio Dulce te ontdekken, cards against humanity te spelen; Fransen hebben blijkbaar humor ;-) en te slapen in een junglehutje.

    En nu zitten we in een chickenbus en weten we na 4 uur niet meer hoe we moeten zitten. Nog een paar uur te gaan naar Mexico en dan doen we even helemaal niks meer ;-) 🏝

    P.S. Li, we hebben een vriend van Garret ontmoet!
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  • Day320

    The border crossing wasn't as bad as expected. There was no queues of cars - in fact I think we were the only one I saw. We got sprayed (no idea what for), got our passport stamped, and got our vehicle import licence all within an hour. Tried to buy insurance but the guy said not to bother :l

    From there we drove through a narrow and deep valley into the mountains and to Huehuetenango (all the big towns seem to end with ~tenango around here) and started to find our feet. We were told there weren't any supermarkets here but immediately we found one, and we're surprised to see it a lot more expensive than Mexico. We got ourselves a local SIM and made our way to a strange little campsite on the edge of a football field.

    Over a week on and I'm still not feeling right, so we decided to head to Lake Atitlán for a few days R&R before we head to our volunteering place. To get to the lake you summit at over 3,000 metres which was thick with fog, then head steeply down to 1,800 metres in only a few miles.

    The lake is ringed by high classically shaped volcanoes, one of which is active. Unfortunately clouds are sitting on the lake so we only get a few tantalising glimpses of these majestic peaks. We mooched around the main tourist town of Panajachel and jumped into the back of a pickup to visit a small artesanal village further around the lake. We even got invited to a baptismal ceremony held at the campsite, and got called out by name by the priest buy fortunately we avoided the dunking.
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  • Day15

    We set off in the pouring rain to the border. We didn't have to unload our bags this time which was good. Have a look at some of the weird items which are banned.
    Driving over the border was like driving through a car wash!

    Stopped by a nice lake for lunch then off to the camping site where we are spending the night. I am fantasizing about a 5 star hotel!

    Next its three hours walking through the Tikal mayan ruins. Fantastic! Its in the jungle with few tourists and the ruins are impressive. And true tropical weather as you can see. Loving the amish look!

    Then after the worst nachos of my life we went
    to our tents. Hot, sweaty and covered in sunscreen and mosquito repellent we went to bed in our clothes. Me of course am using my pop up mosquito net for the first time in a tent in the pitch black as my camera battery is nearly flat! I sort of get it up and that will have to do!

    A very uncomfortable night on a thin mat with questionable sheets.
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  • Day16

    Camping in an old tent with holes in it in mosquito land. No thanks!

    The mist in the early morning was nice though.

    But the shower block wasn't used by anyone!

    But disaster I can't get the pop up mosquito net back into the tiny circle!! Everyone in the group tries. Even the swiss guy who can solve a rubiks cube in under a minute can't solve it. So it has to go in the bus as a fairly large circle. And yes I did watch the you tube instruction on how to fold it and thought I got this! Wrong! Once I get wi fi I will have to watch it again - closely!!

    We drive through the country side to our next destination Rio Dulce which is set on a lake.

    The country side on the way is beautiful but there was alot of poverty and people living in one room timber shacks.

    On the way we stop at Flores which is a lovely little town on a tiny island.

    Then we stop in Rio Dulce to have lunch and stock up on food as the jungle retreat only has the one restaurant. The main street is crazy with heavy traffic and lots of people walking down the fairly narrow road. Very easy to get run over and a van reverses into us giving us a scare.

    I do quite well and manage to get some yoghurt bread avocados tomatoes bananas and a bag of sliced mango. Then I find a place that does smoothies so with alot of sign language I get the best banano and fresa (banana and strawberry) smoothie. They must have sweet tooths here as she offered to put a tablespoon of sugar in!

    Then with the huge mosquito net we get on a boat and get to our jungle retreat on the river. Its heaven.
    I am a real sight with the mosquito net!

    My room is gorgeous and we have an outdoor lounge area facing the jungle and a shared bathroom and there are only two of us in the little house like structure.

    Rest of the afternoon spent relaxing and had a nice dinner in the restaurant which overlooks the river.

    Mosquito net put to use and an early night.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Guatemala, Guatemala, Guwatemala, ጉዋቲማላ, جواتيمالا, Qvatemala, Гватэмала, Гватемала, Gwatemala, গোয়াতিমালা, གྷོ་ཊེ་མ་ལ།, Gvatemala, Guatemala nutome, Γουατεμάλα, Gvatemalo, گواتمالا, Gwaatemalaa, Goatemala, Guatamala, ગ્વાટેમાલા, Gwatamala, גווטמלה, गोतेदाला, Գվատեմալա, グアテマラ, გვატემალა, ហ្គាតេម៉ាឡា, ಗ್ವಾಟೆಮಾಲಾ, 과테말라, گواتیمالا, Gwatémala, ກົວເຕມາລາ, Ngwatemala, Goatemalà, ഗ്വാട്ടിമാലാ, ग्वाटेमाला, ဂွာတီမာလာ, Cuauhtemallan, ଗୁଏତମାଲା, ګواتمالا, Watimala, Guatêmälä, Guwaatamaala, குவாத்தாமாலா, గ్వాటిమాల, Гуатемала, ประเทศกัวเตมาลา, Kuatamala, گۋاتېمالا, Ґватемала, گواٹے مالا, Gvatemalän, Orílẹ́ède Guatemala, 危地马拉, i-Guatemala

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