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Lake Atitlán

Blog Entry No. 100!

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I've had a busy year it seems. I've written 100 blog entries in the last 378 days. It was hard work, but I have managed to keep up with it somehow. And I'll try to keep going this way until the end of my trip.

So, about Lake Atitlán:

After stopping over in Antigua for another night on the way down from Cobán, I travelled on to Lake Atitlán. I stayed in Panajachel, the easiest to reach town on the lake. It is a small and very touristy town, with a lot of nice and relatively cheap restaurants and bars and great views of the lake!
Panajachel

Panajachel


Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán

On Sunday, I went to Chichicastenango. The town is just over an hour from Pana and is famous for its Thursday and Sunday market. The market was really busy and really colourful! I enjoyed walking (or squeezing) through the aisles and looking at the goods sold. But what I enjoyed even more was watching the indigenous people in their traditional Maya dresses. They are beautiful! I spent some time sitting in a cafe with a good view over part of the market just watching people.
Chicken for sale on the Chichicastenango Sunday market

Chicken for sale on the Chichicastenango Sunday market


Chichicastenango

Chichicastenango


Chichicastenango

Chichicastenango


Chichicastenango Sunday market

Chichicastenango Sunday market

The next day, I wanted to see more of the lake and the surrounding villages. I took a boat in the morning to Santiago Atitlán. There are a lot of shops selling similar handicrafts to those in Chichi and there were very different Mayan clothes to admire.
Santiago Atitlán

Santiago Atitlán


Santiago Atitlán

Santiago Atitlán


Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán


Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán


Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán

I then went on to San Pedro La Laguna. I had heard a lot about this place because it is very popular with backpackers. And you can see this straight away. It is full with foreign-owned bars and restaurants. But they are really nice and if you make your way up to the centre of town, there are no tourists near.
San Pedro La Laguna

San Pedro La Laguna

Back in Pana, I thought it was time to try some more Guatemalan food. I went out and ate Pollo en Pepián, a chicken stew, served with rice, guacamole, nachos and tortillas. It was really good, nicely spiced and served with a great guacamole.
Pollo en Pepián

Pollo en Pepián

Posted by sarahm_lux 18:41 Archived in Guatemala Tagged panajachel santiago_atitlan san_pedro_la_laguna chichicastenango lake_atitlan Comments (0)

Cobán and around

An orchid garden, Semuc Champey & the Lanquín caves

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In Cobán itself there is not much to see or do, so on Wednesday I just walked around town a bit and then went to the orchid garden, Vivero Verapaz. It is not very well maintained and not too many orchids were in bloom, but there were some very nice ones to see.
Vivero Verapaz

Vivero Verapaz


Vivero Verapaz

Vivero Verapaz


Vivero Verapaz

Vivero Verapaz

The next day, I went on a last adventure with my travelling partner of the last 5 weeks. We went to visit the highlights of the region, Semuc Champey and the Lanquín caves. Semuc Champey is a natural limestone bridge under which a river flows which creates pools in the bridge. After a 2-hour minibus ride and then 35 uncomfortable and bumpy minutes on the back of a pick-up truck, we finally got there.
First, we walked up a very slippery path to a viewpoint from where we could see the whole bridge and all its pools. It was beautiful, so worth the effort!
Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey


When we got back down (without any major slips and falls) we went to see where the river flows underneath the bridge. The current was so strong, it was pretty impressive!
Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey


We then went for a swim in the pools. You get into one pool and then jump, slide or walk from one pool into the next, and at the end the same thing back up until you reach the first pool again. Although a bit scary in some parts, this was good fun.

When we were done in Semuc Champey, we went to the caves. They are really big, have a lot of interesting rock formations inside and many stalactites and stalagmites. You can also find quartz in the caves, a lot of bats live here and there is a Mayan sacrifice altar. It was very slippery again, so very tiring at the end of this long day, but the caves looked really great!
Lanquín caves

Lanquín caves


Lanquín caves

Lanquín caves

When we were finally back in Cobán, we celebrated our last night together with a mulled wine/hot chocolate with rum and then smoked our second cigar, while wearing our New Year's Eve devil's horns ;-) We thought about all the things we had done together in the last 5 weeks and were very sad to split up. From now on I'll be travelling on my own again :-(
Cigar and devil's horns - what more do you need on a Thursday night?

Cigar and devil's horns - what more do you need on a Thursday night?

Guatemala's national flower: the monja blanca

Guatemala's national flower: the monja blanca

Posted by sarahm_lux 11:39 Archived in Guatemala Tagged coban semuc_champey cuevas_de_lanquín Comments (0)

Antigua

New Year's Eve and other fun things

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It was a long journey from La Ceiba to Antigua. We left the hostel just after 4 in the morning and arrived at 9.30 at night in Antigua.

On 30th December, we decided to go on our last small adventure of the year. We climbed up the volcano Pacaya. It is not a very long walk and only steep in some parts, but it only being 2 days since the Pico Bonito hike, it did feel a bit hard to us. It was worth the effort because the views were great from up there. The volcano is very active (it erupts about every 5 years) and in some parts a lot of heat escapes, so that we could roast marshmallows in the heat of the volcano.
Hiking up Volcán Pacaya

Hiking up Volcán Pacaya


Roasting marshmallows in the heat of the volcano

Roasting marshmallows in the heat of the volcano


Hiking up Volcán Pacaya

Hiking up Volcán Pacaya

That night, we wanted to check out the nightlife in Antigua. So we went to the Irish Pub which we heard was the best place to go. And indeed it was very popular. We had to queue outside for a long time and when we were finally inside, it was so crowded we could barely move. We stayed there for a while and finally got to dance a little bit when we moved on to another place. But we also found that it was true what we had heard, all bars and clubs close at 1am in Antigua...

And then there it was, the last day of the year 2011! We had a pretty lazy day, only walking around town a bit and going out for some cake in the afternoon.
Antigua

Antigua


Antigua

Antigua


Antigua

Antigua


Indigenous woman in Antigua

Indigenous woman in Antigua

There were shows going on during the day in the city, traditional dances and similar things, so we went to watch a little bit of those.
Giants in Antigua

Giants in Antigua


An amazing view from the streets of Antigua

An amazing view from the streets of Antigua

Then it was time for our New Year's Eve dinner, lasagna! :) After eating, the New Year's party could start! We went back to the hostel, had some cocktails, met some people. Strangely, the fireworks in Antigua were already at 9.30, not at midnight, so we went to see these. Then back to the hostel and later the party kept going back and forth between the hostel and the main square. It was a fun night and we had a great start into the new year! :-)
New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve


New Year's Eve devils <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/Emoticons/icon_wink.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=';)' title='' />

New Year's Eve devils ;)


2012!

2012!

Of course on 1st January, I first slept in a bit... Then it was time for breakfast at Burger King ;) We had thought ahead and booked ourselves an activity for the day, so that we would not waste all day doing nothing. We went to the brand new Antigua chocolate museum and took part in a chocolate workshop. We learnt a lot about cocoa and how chocolate is made. We roasted, peeled and ground some cocoa beans, made hot chocolate - both the Mayan version made with water and chili and the European version made with milk and sugar - and then we made chocolates. To make the chocolates, we poured already prepared liquid chocolate into moulds and added whatever ingredients we wanted, nuts, raisins, spices, Oreos etc. An hour later, when they were dry, we could go pick them up. They were so good! :)
Chocolate workshop

Chocolate workshop


Chocolate workshop

Chocolate workshop


Chocolate workshop

Chocolate workshop

After we picked up our sweets, we went to the big artisan market and bought some souvenirs for ourselves and some presents for our friends and family back home.
Artisan market in Antigua

Artisan market in Antigua


Artisan market in Antigua

Artisan market in Antigua

At night, we went our for dinner in the Irish pub. After a great vegetable curry, we stayed on for a couple more beers. We had not planned to have a big party that night. But you never know what happens... So we ended up staying out and had another big night out in Antigua. Who needs sleep? ;)

On Monday, it was time for some cultural education again. We travelled South to Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa. Here, many stone sculptures from an ancient civilisation called the Cotzumalguapa have been found. We got ourselves a taxi who drove us to the different sites and museums. It was really interesting and although I was really tired, I was very glad I went.
Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa

Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa


Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa

Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa


Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa

Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa


Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa

Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa


Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa

Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa

At least until we were on the last bus back into Antigua... That was definitely the worst bus ride of our lives (the English just said she agrees with me)! It might have been the last bus or one of the last busses of the day going back because they seemed to really have no limit as to how many people got let on. Every time I thought there was absolutely no space left, they stopped to let some more people on. I'm surprised I survived this ride without any big injuries :-S Although I did find a very dark bruise on my leg afterwards... It was a horrible hour squeezed into tiny spaces in between seats, bags and people. But hey, it's all part of the adventure ;) We made it back into Antigua and only left the hostel for dinner that night. During the rest of the night we sorted out our things and then went to sleep early. Enough party for now.

The next day I explored the city some more and then in the afternoon took a shuttle to Cobán.
Antigua

Antigua


Hm, what could be their secret ingredient? A bit cruel, no?

Hm, what could be their secret ingredient? A bit cruel, no?


Antigua

Antigua

Posted by sarahm_lux 18:12 Archived in Guatemala Tagged chocolate pacaya antigua santa_lucía_cotzumalguapa Comments (0)

Pico Bonito

The most difficult 'hike' I have ever done

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We got picked up at the ferry terminal by a driver organised by the Jungle River Lodge in Pico Bonito National Park where we were going to stay that night. The lodge is located in a beautiful setting next to the river Cangrejal, so we enjoyed the views for a bit until it got dark.
Pico Bonito

Pico Bonito


Pico Bonito

Pico Bonito

The next morning we had planned on doing the hike the lodge organises in the National Park. But it turned out not to be a normal hike at all. First we had to cross a river. The guide told us to take off our shoes because the water was knee deep. He should have told us to change into our swimsuits though because the water was actually chest deep. The current was also very strong (not surprising for a river in which people go rafting as well...) and I would never have made it across without getting carried away by the water if the guide had not come back to help me. So I started the actual hike soaking wet and not very happy at all.
Pico Bonito

Pico Bonito

The hike then led us through the jungle to some waterfalls. Very soon we realised it would be hard work getting up there though. Not only was the mountain very steep, the path also led us over some very slippery rocks, over very narrow parts with dangerously steep drops on the side and it involved actual rock climbing in some parts. This could all be fun and adventurous I guess, but it would be nice to know about these kinds of things in advance. The activity was advertised as a pretty simple hike through the jungle. It did not help either that the guide walked quite fast most of the time and did not stop very often to check whether everybody was still there and doing alright. On a difficult 'hike' like this, that should really be the case. It was a beautiful area, the guide gave us a lot of interesting information on the plants we saw and I even ate a couple of termites (which are not bad at all, they have very little taste but are very crunchy), but I was very happy when we got back to the lodge where we got a big fruit platter for lunch.
Pico Bonito

Pico Bonito


Pico Bonito

Pico Bonito

We then got brought back into La Ceiba where we spent the rest of the day not doing much.

Posted by sarahm_lux 12:12 Archived in Honduras Tagged pico_bonito Comments (0)

A Caribbean Christmas on Roatán

Very merry times

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We got a boat from Utila to Roatán on the 23rd to be there on time for Christmas. After checking into our hostel, we went down to the beach at Half Moon Bay, lay in the sun for a while, then had a walk around the West End area and the souvenirs shops. After this, we went to a huge supermarket where we stocked up on food for Christmas. We cooked something in the hostel, met some of the other people staying there and then went out in West End with them. We went to a couple of bars and then to a club for some dancing. A good night out!

When I woke up the next morning, I couldn't believe it was Christmas Eve! At home it was already pretty late too so that after breakfast I started talking to the first people at home. Wishing friends and family a happy Christmas, it was strange imagining everybody at home having their Christmas dinners while I was on a Caribbean island.

The weather was not very nice that day, so even after I had finished talking to everyone I could not go to the beach. I stayed at the hostel and used the afternoon to catch up on my blog entries. Then it was time to make myself a Christmas dinner too! Since I could not make a fancy meal like at home, I decided to at least make something Luxembourgish. I went for something easy, but very tasty, Kniddelen :) After eating, we prepared some mulled wine to get into the Christmas mood. A few of us then went into West End for drinks and to listen to a live band in one of the bars. When we got back, others were still sitting in front of the hostel. We joined them and stayed out there with them for quite some more time. It was a very nice Christmas Eve!
Shots and beer on Christmas Eve

Shots and beer on Christmas Eve

Christmas Day was even better. First, we opened Christmas presents! My English travelling companion and I had decided to buy each other a present so that we at least got something on Christmas. I got a nice blue bag, perfect for the beach!
Opening my one Christmas present

Opening my one Christmas present


Chritsmas morning at the hostel

Chritsmas morning at the hostel

Then we went with all our new friends to the nicest beach on the island, West Bay. We first had some sparkling wine on the beach :-) After sunbathing for a while, we went snorkelling. The reef and fish were very nice. Then we smoked one of the cigars we got at the Santa Rosa de Copán factory. The first cigar of our lives, how exciting! Although the boys helped us a bit too, it took a long time to smoke it. We had no idea how long these things last... As we had an Argentinean with us, it was unavoidable that he would get the maté out as well at some point ;)
West Bay

West Bay


Sparkling wine and a cigar on the beach

Sparkling wine and a cigar on the beach

Then it was finally time for dinner! We went to a resort on the beach which offered a Christmas dinner buffet. The food was great! Ham, turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, salad, pumpkin mash, tamales and a lot of different cakes for dessert including two amazing cheese cakes! I was completely stuffed afterwards!
Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner

After dinner, someone had the great idea to spin a bottle to make one of us drink a chili shot. Unfortunately, I was the unlucky one... So I had to drink a shot of vodka mixed with chili sauce :-S I did it though and it could have been worse... We stayed at the restaurant a bit longer, watched a fire dancer show and later some fireworks. Afterwards, we squeezed into a taxi with 6 people (very comfortable as you can imagine) and went back to West End.
4 guys squeezed into the back of a taxi...

4 guys squeezed into the back of a taxi...


and 2 girls in front

and 2 girls in front

We went to one of the few bars open, had some more drinks and danced a bit. On Sunday, even when it is Christmas, the bars are supposed to close at 10pm, so at around 10.30, the police came and made the bar shut down.
Even the dog is out drinking on Christmas Day

Even the dog is out drinking on Christmas Day

We had no choice but to go back home to the hostel and continue our party there. Like you do so often on Christmas, we decided to play a card game, but of course this time as a drinking game... A few hours later everybody slowly started going to bed and the end of a great Christmas Day had come.

On Boxing Day, most people got up very late and we only left the hostel once, to go get a late chicken lunch at West End. Other than that we had a quiet day and night at the hostel.

On 27th, we had to leave to get back to La Ceiba. So after a morning spent at the hostel, mainly packing and reading, we said goodbye to everybody and went to get the ferry back to the mainland.

We are very happy with our choice as to where to spend Christmas! And we are hoping that New Year's Eve in Antigua will be just as much fun!

Posted by sarahm_lux 16:33 Archived in Honduras Tagged christmas roatan Comments (0)

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