Volcanic Hangovers

Trip Start May 07, 2003
Trip End Sep 05, 2005

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Saturday, July 5, 2003

Afternoon all,

Finished my Spanish at the end of last week, was pretty good all in all, and I suppose I can get by now... (Eeak!) The criac in Antigua was unbeatable though. What with working in the Irish bar and being out every other night on the town, the final week was a blast and I met some really great folk. Some good times were had if you seen the last email..... :)

Somehow climbed a volcano after the afore mentioned "spewnwalking" night out! Got rid of that hangover ah'll tell ye! It was Volcane Pacaya at 2500m and still very ACTIVE.

On the way up we could see the new lava flows, only formed in Aug 2000. After scrambling up through the volcanic ash, nearing the top, steam was gushing from every pore in the side of the mountain. At the top, standing on the edge of this active volcano crater looking down into the swirling abyss of poisonous sulphuric smoke was unreal. The views of the rest of Guate and surrounding volcanoes were pretty cool too. On the way down, after skiing and sliding our way down the steep ash run, we could see Volcane Fuego in the distance errupting, floating in the darkness, bright orange lava spraying and flowing down in viens in the night sky. Occasionaly it lit up like a strobe by the constant sheet lighting. This IS the land before time.

Spent the last 5 days at Lago Atitlan whom Auldous Huxley once said was "the most beautiful lake in the world", I don't think many would argue.

It's formed by a collapsed volcano cone and is surrounded by towering volcanoes and steep green mountains on all sides. It's got dozens of colourful traditional Mayan villages dotted around the 60k's of shoreline.

I stayed in San Pedro, reknowned for hippies and the fact they grow their own weed! Within 5 minutes of the lancha landing I had as a big a bag as I've seen for less than 10 quid, sold to me by a small boy who carried my bag up to the hotel room from the boat! Smoked my way into some banter with a load of mad lads down on the pier and within a couple of hours was doing "gaynors" (backwards-summersault-bombdives) off the pier! We kayaked across the lake to some cliffs and these boys were wanting to do gaynors off these 20ft drops, crazy bastards, not me. I dived off a few times, but one boy about tore himself a new ar5ehole when he landed the wrong way! Nearly capsized on the way back, my kayak was rickety heap o sh1te and the waves had got up in the afternoon, they just came straight in the cockpit. After contemplating delibertately capsising as a boat shot past, I frantically paddled towards a wee boy in a tiny fishing boat in the middle of the lake, nearly tipping the b@stard over doing so but I managed to bail it out before it went down. Thank feck.

Don't know what it is with me, can't seem to climb these bloody volcanoes unless I've got a raging hangover! For some stupid reason, me and another Scottish lad, aptly named Scott, decided we'd climb Volcane San Pedro at over 3000m. This was after a full night drinking litros and only 5 hours sleep. Anyway, Scott, the lazy cu*nt that he is only
managed it about a 5th of the way up before conking out. Then 2/3rds of the way up the useless guide left me! Decided he suddenly had a meeting in town or some shite! So after 4 and a half LONG feckin' hours going vertical up this thing thru miles of jungle and coffee & avocado plantations, on my last ounce of will power and all energy sapped, I made it. The view was of the entire lake and all the villages around it, above the clouds - pretty spectacular - I had to go for a wee snooze!

Visited another couple of really nice places on the lakeside. Many Europeans have bought land on the lake and made these amazing hotels and hostels in impossibly inaccessable but stunning locations. The food is always so tasty and cheep and you couldn't get more away from it all. The tiniest places and accessible only by boat or by trekking for miles thru the mountains behind.

Got a good old 'Chicken bus'
back to Antigua with Scott, well 5 of them actually. An experience in it's own right. These things are old American school buses and on a single deck, they probably have 80 to 90 folk. 3, 4 even 5 to a seat, kids clambering all over the place, live animals scurrying around, the driver overtaking uphill on blind corners, and at every slight half chance, brakes slammed on every 5 mins to pick up more folk. I thought we were goners more than a few times! Cost less than $2 to travel probs over a hundred miles though!

Went for a few beers in Antigua last night, ended up meeting a load of folk from the previous week in the Spanish school. It was like returning to my home town, I met more folk on the street than I would have in Edinburgh! Anyway the few beers turned into another crazy night and I missed my bus to Copan Ruinas

in Honduras at 4am this morning. Can't really remember what happened but somehow managed to get ourselves thrown out of the hotel. Found another one and will hopefully head to Honduras tomorrow.... although I just heard there's another big party on tonight.... !

Life is dangerous, no-one have ever survived it - SO ENJOY!
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