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  • The 4am start was to ensure that we don't get stuck in traffic in Guatemala City which could take three hours.

    Last night I ended up going back to the restaurant where we had dinner the night before indulging in a glass of red with some bread as I sat in a window seat watching the passing parade. The street is still closed to traffic - must be a weekend thing.

    Our tour guide is really good which a welcome relief from the previous one. This one gave us more information in the pre tour meeting than dopey had in the previous 15 days!

    I am in Honduras now! So far it looks like Guatemala.
    Ok except that there are alot of cowboy hats!

    The town we are staying in is close to the Mayan Copan ruins which we are seeing tomorrow. The town itself is lovely with cobbled streets and its so nice not to have all the pushy hawking. Also there are not many tourists.

    We drive an hour into the mountains to these amazing hotsprings set in the jungle. There are about 20 pools to soak in, lots of mud to smear all over us and stones to sit on near the hot water waterfall so its like a steam room. So relaxing and just what I needed. Also I skipped the awful lunch provided on the tour and got my own from the supermarket and also got a discount on the tour. This meant I had the springs all to myself for an hour! Bliss!

    Then off to the best restauant in town where every tourist that is in town is eating as well. Its nicely decorated and my simple meal of chicken salad and roast potatoes is the best I have has since leaving Sydney.
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  • Just having a chill day today. Catching up on emails and postings.
    Walked around abit and did some cafe hopping. The cafes here are fantastic.

    Finally got my key lime pie! It was fabulous.

    We got our lunch from the back of a car for $1.00! Really nice pastrie filled with chicken and it was heated.

    Also looked at the lovely churches and old buildings here. The town has lots of little parks scattered around.

    Walked up to the cemetary which overlooks town to have a look at the view.

    Meeting the new tour guide and group additions tonight. And then we leave for Honduras at 4am!!

    We all need some bland comfort food so we are having MacDonalds for dinner tonight in the most placial MacDonalds I have ever seen. Beautiful outdoor courtyard in a colonial building.

    Then a quick stroll around the centre of town with a gelato and an early night. You can see one of the lovely courtyards in our hotel.

    Oh and I can rest easy as you can see from the sign our hotel has got it covered!!
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  • Love this town. This afternoon going to look at the handicrafts and just wander taking photos.

    Some are going to climb the volcano which overlooks the town. There were five deaths last week when a group and their guide were blown off the mountain in their tents when the weather turned.

    I asked our idiot guide (I will have to do a post about his insightful comments) about the walk and his reponse was that it was quite short. We have all learned that he is quite stupid so I start interrogating him. Its actually a six hour walk on loose rocks!!!
    Is he for real!!

    Weather is abit overcast which I love. Cooler for walking. Its Saturday and some streets are closed off and everyone is out walking. Great atmosphere and it got even busier in the evening.

    So nice not to have to dodge the cars and the closed off streets are so pretty without them.

    We have dinner in this fabulous restaurant in terms of its decor. Its quite spectacular as you can see from the photos. In the evenings its dinner by candlelight. So my travelling companions - a swiss girl and a Perth uni student and I all have pasta which we have been craving. The service and the meals were great.

    Then we head to the town centre which has a park in the middle and cafes and shops surrounding it and have some great gelato.

    End of a good day which is topped off by me catching up on my washing! Yes its the little things like clean clothes.

    Will upload photos when I can.
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  • In Panajachel today which is right on Lake Atitlan. Its quite beautiful as you stare at the lake with the three volcanoes surrounding it.

    We decide to go to two villages on the lake. You never know when the public boat goes as they wait for passengers so we negotiate for a private boat. God what a drama - it takes ages as they quote you ridiculous prices which you wouldn't pay in any western country. Finally we get an acceptable price $16 each for two villages spending an hour and a half in each with a half hour boat ride there and back.

    The villages are great - the first one San Pedro has a very busy main street with a market and sits at the base of Pedro volcano. The second one San Marcos is a small village with views towards the volcanoes. Its got a very hippy bryon bay feel with lots of massage and yoga places and some very cute cafes with a chilled out jungle vibe.

    After checking out San Marcos I decide to get a crepe at the only restaurant on the lake in this village. I paid abit more but the views was sensational! And it had wi fi. The others went and had bigger lunches at one of the jungle cafes and then crepes at one of the hip cafes. But give me a water view and I am in heaven!

    Then we had the roughest ride I have ever had in a boat! We were laughing and screaming at the same time!!

    A walk around town looking at the shops. I saw these really ugly bead lizards which I wanted for the christmas tree but when they start at $65 when its worth $15 western price I just can't be bothered with the haggling. It was hideous but I will go to bed dreaming about it!

    Back to the hotel for a rest then we hit the street for dinner. I get some chicken and salad on little tortillas and the others got hotdogs with four different sauces which were put on before and after the hotdog went in then they were piled with cabbage!

    Exhausted hot and dusty and looking forward to my shower. But my room is right off the lobby and directly in line with the entry from the street so its very noisy.

    Good grief go to have my shower and its cold! Not good enough - I paid enough for a hot shower in a hotel. So I dry off get dressed and approach reception. A guy comes in and fiddles with the shower head and the water is warm. So I think I will give this a go. Mistake its still to cold to be comfortable. By this stage the floor is wet and filthy from the dusty shoes of the shower fixit guy.

    After two days without a shower and covered in sweat grim dust suncreen and mosquito repellent I need a hot shower. So I dry off again get dressed and out I go.

    This time they tell me the hot showers are on the third floor! So why is anyone on the tour given a room without a hot shower. Plus my room is small, windowless and very stuffy.

    Anyway they offer to change my room but I can't be bothered packing up all my stuff. So up I go to the third floor with my wash bag. The room is about five times the size of mine and has a lounge area. Too tired to care - I just want my shower.

    Now going to bed refreshed!

    Please note the laser like spear piecing my head and destroying my hair!
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  • Up into the mountains today to a town called Chichicastenango which has a large market and a very colourful cemetary. Loved wandering around the markets taking photos.

    Bought a little hand made material cat which spoke to me - had to bargain hard though! Her name is Guatsup!

    Had my smoothie for the day in a cute cafe.

    Then onto our homestay in the village of San Jorge La Laguna overlooking Lake Atitlan. My room is pretty large. We share a toilet and a cold trickle of a shower with the family. There is a kitchen and two other bedrooms one which is used as a homestay room as well. So the family must sleep in one room when a homestay is on. See the various photos of the home including my colourful bed!

    Then there is a central courtyard which is partly covered.

    We had a traditional Guatemalan meal with the family with a very bad soapie on the tv in the background.

    We were told to bring gifts for the family - food shampoo pots etc. Anything as the families don't have much. I took soap and shampoo. Others took pineapples, corn, muffins. I should have got some pencils or pens for the kids as well.

    There were two kids - the boy was fascinated with my padlock on my case. The little girl was curious about everything so I showed her the photos and videos I had on my phone - including Minnie Mai dancing and skipping which she loved. She also loved the dolphin and sea lion photos.

    The whole tour group got dressed up in traditional clothing supplied by our families. Then we went to the town centre to hang out. We also went to part of a church service where a band played!

    Dinner was pretty good and filling. Early night as no internet and nothing to do. Our home had these crazy christmas lights in the courtyard which played the same christmas tune so in the ear plugs went!
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  • The faces say it all!

    First food photo was dinner and next is breakfast.

    Me in my traditional attire. There are alot of pretty gruesome photos on my camera!

    Is my forehead beginning to take over my face?

  • We had the choice of leaving at 6am followed by an 8 hour drive or leave later followed by a 12 hour drive. Alot of roadwork makes the journey slow.

    A no brainer there and we left at 6am.

    Lovely and peaceful on the lake at dawn.

    We stopped at a dreadful place for breakfast - overpriced and not very appealing. The people who ate the food were the tour guide and the bus driver.
    I pulled out my groceries and most of the others had bread chips or crackers! They did have ok smoothies which are generally available everywhere in Guatamala and are great in the hot weather.

    Then a tyre blew so there is the shadow of me taking a photo of the view. One of the aussie girls said she could change the tyre - good on her - I wouldn't gave a clue.

    Every truck and car beeped at us!

    We drove through Guatemala City. Crazy traffic, lots of barbed wire protecting homes and businesses, gated communities with guards, businesses with guards - a good city to drive through I think. Photo three was a drive by photo of the suburbs.

    We reached Antigua and our hotel is a charming colonial building with lots of courtyards and a roof terrace which overlooks the city.

    We walk around town and its gorgeous. Lots of great cafes, bars and restaurants. Beautiful pastel coloured buildings. Not many street vendors so we end up in this hole in the wall place (photo five) where two ederly women cook the food. You walk through a small shop (photo six) and go out to the back. Its like being in their home.

    You can see the traditional Guatemalan meal we had for $5 and we all had two avocados each and loads of bread and tortillas. It was excellent and what a bargain.
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  • Nice sleep in, then down to the retreat's restaurant which is right next to the lake.
    We haven't had wi fi for a while so caught up on my emails and did abit of banking. The connection was very patchy though and came and went.

    Its a lovely place.

    After my homemade brunch/lunch (check out the knife they gave me) we walked into town 20 minutes each way. The heat the heat! We are all dripping.

    I get some orange drink which tastes like tang for energy - the water just wasn't cutting it.
    We walk around abit make a few purchases and I get another smoothie from the same place and we head back.

    Then we watched the you tube video a dozen times and managed to get the net back into a circle! Not easy and it took two of us!

    Finally relaxed in the restaurant by the lake. The meals are western prices but without the western quality.

    Most of the photos are on my camera so here is what I have of the retreat. My room, the shared verandah and bathroom, my lunch, the view and a random boat!
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