Friday, August 1, 2008

The Guatamala Chronicles: Part 2

I started the day with a little yoga. I'm not used to that firm of a mattress and desperately needed to stretch my muscles! We had a fabulous breakfast and had a nice peaceful morning. We then took a boat back across the lake, during which time I discovered that I still get motion sickness. I was a tad queasy getting off the boat, but unfortunately I spent the majority of the rest of the day trying not to lose my yummy breakfast. The lovely guatamalan switchbacks didn't help!! On our drive, we stopped at the breathtaking waterfall pictured above. It was just off the side of the road, and it was spectacular. We stopped at a little town called Solola, which had a biweekly local market. It gave a real taste of what the locals experienced at market. It wasn't geared at all towards tourists, which was wonderful. It was fascinating to see baskets of tomatoes layed out. There were baskets of chicken and geese. People were mostly dressed in traditional clothing. Babies were strapped to mom's backs, and mom was hauling stuff on her head, or trying to sell food from the family farms. It was crowded and chaotic and fascinating.

The rest of the day was a lot of driving. We stopped at a place for lunch, which I know everyone but me enjoyed. It was a buffet with more typical guatamalan food. I was busy still trying not to lose my breakfast! We made it back to Antigua and found a hotel. Our next stop was an active Volcano called Picaya. It was quite the drive during which we got stuck in traffic, which actually turned out to be a blessing for me. Because we were no longer on windey roads, and were stopped a lot, my tummy was finally able to settle down and I was able to enjoy our Volcano adventure!

We made it to the bottom of the Volcano at about 9p.m. (The traffic was horrid in Guatamal City!) We were uncertain as to whether or not we would still be able to go up the mountain, but the locals were able to round up nine horses and we were off on our adventure! My father-in-law survived a fall off his horse, which would have been a lawsuit in the states, but in guatamala it's called fix the problem and move on! I love their attitude! The ride up the mountain took about 45 minutes. There were these little lights along the path, and at first I thought maybe it was bits of lava. I asked my guide, with my limited spanish, and he picked it up and set it in my hand. It wasn't until it started to move that I realized it was some kind of light bug. It was so tiny, it was like a spec of light moving on my hand. I also noticed many holes along the side of the trail. I found out they dug these holes so that when it rains, the path they use doesn't get washed out. The holes allows the water some other place to flow.

When we made it to the point where the horses could no longer go, we dismounted and got ready to hike. It was cold and very windy and the lush vegetation was nearly non-existent. I was grateful for my rain jacket. We walked a little ways before we got to the old lava. Then we walked for quite a ways on very difficult terrain. The old lava was not easy to traverse in the dark. As we approached the new lava, our guides stopped us and went up ahead to test for the safest route to get to the lava. Then they led us up close and we took turns sticking our stick in the lava. I was probably ten feet away, but the heat was so intense, I thought it would singe the hair on my arm. I found a marhmallow that some other tourist hadn't managed to fry in the lava, and we had fun watching it melt. It was fascinating to watch the lava move. It had a life of it's own as it moved down the mountainside. We found out the the old lava that we were standing on was only ten days old.

The way back down was fairly uneventful and it was nearly midnight by the time we reached the car. Our guides were great and it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. We fell into bed in an exhausted stupor around 2a.m.!

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