18.11.2007 - 23.11.2007 23 °C
The journey from Granada to Antigua went really smoothly. In the queue at the Ticabus station we bumped into a couple of familiar faces again: Lone and Lars, who stayed at Elsas on Little Corn, and Ade, whom we crossed back in Granada after first meeting him in Ecuador. Lone and Lars were working on taking their friends car from Nicaragua to Canada and had offered us a lift, however things went wrong and they couldnt leave on time. So Lone went to take the bus all the way to Mexico while Lars remained in the country to see if he could succeed to get the car out eventually. So we had some nice company all the way to Guatemala. The first day it was about 11 hours to San Salvador, where we had to stop overnight. On Sunday we had another early start and by 11:30 am we were in Guatemala City. We shared a taxi directly to Antigua and got there a lot earlier than expected, urrah.
I couldnt wait to get to Antigua, this is where I have first learnt Spanish and have a lot of nice memories. I had lost contact with Teresa, my teacher, a good while back, so I was really full of hope to go and see if I could find her again. And I did!! She was there, exactly the same, and her mum and 4 sons. I was almost in tears from the joy! The funny thing that happened was that we reserved a hostel online before getting to Antigua, El Hostal. When we got there, I realised this hostel was in the same road as my old school. So we are walking down the road looking for the hostel, when I spot the school building from a few steps away: I am just there telling Gregory how that was my old school, when I realise that the school IS the hostel we have booked!!! The school relocated across the road and the building got adapted into a hostel. WOW, did not expect that. But actually an excellent choice, we have now been here for almost a week and have really enjoyed it. It is really quiet, super clean and we have, Wi-fi in our room, which means access to the Internet as we please, from our bed. This is a luxury we have not had for a long time.
Gregory having Spanish lessons with my old teacher in my old school... in our hostel!!!
The other day I managed to convince Gregory to go and see Volcan Pacaya, which I climbed the last time I was here. Things have changed quite a lot since then though... four years ago we went all the way to the smoking crater, it was really hard because the last 100 meters or so you climb the cone and the cone is made of soft dark sand. This time, things were completely different. Pacaya is one of Guatemalas three active volcanos and is pretty active, so active that it was like climbing a different volcano altogether! We walked uphill for about one hour until we got to a viewpoint from where we could see the lower crater spewing lava and a black dry lava field underneath us, very similar to the one we had seen on Santiago island in Galapagos - EXCEPT that things here were a lot more live than in Galapagos. We walked down to the lava field and crossed it to get at the very feet of the hot lava, walking on a lava bed that, while it looks dry and old, it is actually very recent and still hot and glowing just a meter or so below. We had to hop from one lava rock to the other for 300-400 meters to the point where the current lava river flows. In fact, we did not go all the way, we starting feeling rather uncomfortable with the heat coming to us from ahead and below and felt that we did not actually need to get all the way right up to the flowing lava. Most people did, but frankly it looked INSANE. We only had one guide for about 30 people and no guidelines were given as to how close you could get, people were all over the place and on top of it all you only had one hour to get there and back before it got pitch black. The lava rock is very sharp and uneven, all you need is to jump badly and there you are. You could even fall into a glowing crack and catch fire... It was an awesome experience but potentially quite hazardous, and we are obviously chickens.
Yesterday we went to Chichicastenango market, the most famous market in Guatemala, some 2.5 long hours from Antigua. It was a nice day and we manged to only spend a handful of dollars on a hammoc and a couple of other trinkets, which will cost an arm and a leg to send from here, as usual. This time it seemed that the indigenas were less bothered about being photographed and we could get quite a few shots, especially Gregory seems to have no problems at all.