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Day 327 – 31st October 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on October 31, 2009

Day 327 – 31st October 09
Saturday – Antigua, Guatemala

I climbed a volcano today 🙂 And it turned out to be Halloween and a full moon

I hate waking up at 6am, why does my brain do that when I have only had 4 hours sleep 😕 Whatever the reason, I can never get back to sleep, so I got up and wrote some blog stuff, I had a bit of a sore throat and a few sneezes as well, so that did not bode well. After brekky I headed into town to buy a ticket for a bus to the Pacaya volcano and also some throat lozenges. This volcano is active and you can almost step in the lava if you so wish, that sounds like fun, not 🙂 On the return I spotted a bike being packed for travel and met up with Willi, from Germany. He is heading to El Salvador today and has also been studying Spanish, nice meeting you m8, I may see you on the road.

I went and did some slow email and blog update and while doing so it started to cloud over a lot. When I had finished and was back in the house, it absolutely bucketed down, as you can see, my bike is getting a wash again 🙂

Now, because I had always been in school when the tortillas had been delivered I had requested of Olga yesterday at least one opportunity to try the corn ones made here in Guatemala and I must say she outdid herself 😯 Even Chris was surprised by the meal we were dished up, but apparently it is a common dish, check this out 🙂

Yep, in that soup is a whole fish, a mackerel type, a crab and some prawns, wow 😕 I had no idea how to start eating this and as I had to be down at the bus in a short while, it was a bit worrying. But, once we asked, we were told to use the plate underneath and remove all the flesh from the seafood and add it to the soup. Well, that was a very messy event I can tell you, but it tasted great, gracias Olga 🙂 I will make a point here though, that I was not really impressed by the corn tortillas, they were too dry for me, the Mexican flour tortillas are a lot more moist and tasty, but I wanted to try these anyway 🙂

After this I rushed down to the travel agency and bought a Subway on the way for later as I would have no dinner otherwise as this tour goes from 2-9pm. I had my headlamp and also a few bottles of water and a jacket. The rain was still around but it took over an hour to get to the parking area near the volcano and it had cleared a bit by then. When we got out of the bus, a group of 12 of us, we were immediately harangued by lots of kids, “want a stick, only Q5”, I managed to buy one for Q3 as Chris had mentioned that is what he paid last week, I am a cheap arse, but I love to haggle and I reckon these same sticks have been bought many times each 🙂

The first part of the trail was nearly straight up and it was tough, we apparently had 3 kms of this, ouch! But, the guide we had does this every day and knows where to stop for a rest where the views are great and the stragglers have a chance to catch up. I was not quite last but I was breathing extremely heavily at each stop and my heart was racing, sucking on the throat lozenges seemed to help and blowing my nose meant more air, so I am not dead yet!

Some parts of the trail were very steep and twisty and a bit slippery, but we eventually came out at a view point where we could actually see where we were headed, this was after about an hour and it was now 5pm. The red circle next to my head is the lava stream and inside the other circle are some dots, these are people and this meant we still had a ways to go, both down and uphill!

We went down into this valley and we were now amongst some of the older lava deposits which had been blown here by an explosion about 45 years ago from the main crater, this crater has since moved and there are three of them now, or something like that, my Spanish is not that good and the guide did not speak English!

Of course, as we were now at the bottom of a small valley we had to climb back up, but what we had to climb was deep ash and it was tough going I can tell you! Two steps up, one step backwards, this nearly killed me and always in the tough spots, there were these blokes on horses saying, “Taxi,Taxi?”, just to rub it in, but I persevered and chatted up Natalie from Oklahoma when I had some breath, but she certainly learned how to use the word ‘knackered’ which I taught her 🙂

After negotiating that section, we got amongst the new hardened lava, the stuff on the right of the trail was still hot to touch and after climbing for a total of an hour and a half, we got to the top and a not bad view of another volcano over there. I had heard on a clear day you can see three of them inline as well as the Pacific Ocean from up here, but today it was not to be.

So, after all that work, we were finally at the lava beds just on dark and it was impressive and mighty hot too!

I took a few small movies of the slow moving lava, but they ended up being bad quality as I nearly burnt my arm taking them, just from the radiant heat 😯 When you stand on some newly formed rock and look down through a crack and see flowing lava, it is certainly a bit scary.

We only got to spend about 15 minutes here before we were called by the guide to head back down. This involved headlamps as it was pitch black by now at 6pm, and I also put on my bike gloves, just so I could handle the sharp rocks while stumbling over them. The walk down hill was an experience, more like skiing down that soft loose black ash, at some stages I sank up past my ankles, half way up my calves, but because I had my bike boots on, I never filled them with ash, unlike most of the rest of the group who were all wearing ankle height shoes/boots. We stopped at the bottom so shoes could be emptied, except me and the guide 🙂

The rest of the walk downhill was pretty smooth going, even though it had started to rain and made the path a bit slippery. When we got to the bottom, we were once again set upon by the stick boys and girls who now wanted their sticks back, for gratis! A few of us held out and asked for a couple for Q as we never wore the stick out at all. They all said, no, we have no money, my point was to be to get the money off them, give them the stick and then hand back the money, but that never happened, so in the end I just gave to one of the girls who was a bit shy 🙂

After this it was just a ride back to Antigua in the rain which took an hour or so and I was dropped off at the MonoLoco bar where the Halloween party was in full swing 🙂 Here I found Juan Carlos and Chris having a drink and dressed to kill, as well as some of the other people I had met the other night, like Rachael

Now, this is Tim from Canada, that should explain a lot, (just joking you canucks 🙂 )and as we found out (picture to follow a bit later) he was going commando under that dress!!!

I bumped into a couple of hero’s in a half shell, this is Chrissie and Amy.

Although I was tired, once I sat down with a beer I was fine, the company helped as well 🙂 Even the bar girls were tasting the product as they worked, just to be sure it is fit to serve of course 😉

Now, somehow I got mixed up with a bunch of blokes and a beer skulling test, but they had glasses and placed a chillie pepper in it. As I was drinking from a bottle I skulled that, but soon after I was tested again by taking a bite of the damm chillie, it was hot!!! These chaps were from Guatemala City and here to prey on the tourist girls, this chap tried real hard with the Ninja Turtles, but they were too smart for him;)

Now, towards midnight they had a fancy dress comp which involved stepping up onto the bar and parading down it to show off in front of the crowd. Remember Tim the cross dresser, well this is where everyone found out he was dressed commando style, I have edited the picture so as not to shock the blokes!

The barman bloke who was dressed as Steve Irwin is standing in front of the winner, which was a Mexican wrestler called Nacho!

After this they had another tradition, I am not sure where from, where this papier-mâché model of a witch was beaten up by participants with a blindfold, the idea being to smash it apart and it is filled with lollies and chocolate, here we have Chrissie dealing it the final blows which broke it apart and released the treasure:)

I chatted with the turtles for a fair while before heading back to the house around 1am, I was knackered but still managed to get home after passing a large amount of drunk revellers 🙂

Day – 0 miles and 0 km
Trip – 41,938 miles and 67,493 km



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2 Responses to “Day 327 – 31st October 09”

  1. Bob Sullivan said

    Just a word on tortillas. Mexicans consume both corn and flour tortillas. Actually the corn tortilla is the most used. The flour tortillas seen more as the foundation for special dishes, the corn at every meal.

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