Today is my 6th day traveling and it has been nothing short of a spetacular adventure already. I started out in Guatemala City where the plane landed, which was awsome on its own with all the volcano and mountains, and met some people right away while waiting for a shuttle to somewhere. They were going to Antigua so I decided to go as well. It was a short one hour ride with just the four of us, Kevin, Jen, Loni and myself, with the driver.
When we arrived in Antigua we wondered around to find a place to stay, there were so many options but being a Friday most of the single private rooms were taken. I left the group for a while and found a nice hostle right near Central Park called UmmaGumma. I had the dorm to myself the first night and then moved downstairs for the remaining four nights for only $4 each night, such a deal and there were even hot showers.
I realized right away I would need much more Spanish than I knew so I decided to enroll in a Spanish class. Such a good idea! It was a one on one class with a great lady I had met and she offered to teach me. We spoke for about an hour in my terrible broken Spanish with my forgotten Italian mixed in. After a while she got up and got some books and the 6 hour lesson started. So much information in such a little amount of time, I filled up half my notebook in just the first two days. After each lesson we would go to this small restaurant tucked in a corner and she would have me chat with her family who spoke no English what so ever, it was great and it was really fun to talk with the kids, they were so excited.
The city of Antigua is so beautiful and has over 5 volcanoes you can see from most points. The grid was quite confusing to figure out as there are almost no street signs to speak of. Once I figured out what was on what corner I didnt get lost for three hours each day and didnt have to go back to Central Park at night to take a cab to avoid wondering in the dark for hours. My final night I was even helping new arrivals with directions! Me, helping with directions, thats a laugh!
Antigua used to be the capitol until it was pretty much destroyed in an earthquake in 1773. It is rebuilt now but there are still many of the old ruins of the old church you can see in the pictures. A tour was available of the ruins for 3quetzales or about .08 cents. It was quite amazing even when I couldnt understand everything.
There have been a lot of earthquakes since I have been here, a couple fairly strong. The power is on and off, thankfully more on than off as is the water. Its interesting to see how everyone just switches gears when the electricty goes out as if nothing really happened.
Last night I visited a real live active volcano. It was about an hour and a half hike (or run, rather) up a 40 degree slope all the way to the ridge where the old volcanic rocks were. We climbed right on and within a few feet I could feel the intense heat underneath. A few more and the slowly flowing lava was visible. We went in the afternoon and were on the top for the sunset which we watched while roasting marshmellows (and melting our soles of our shoes). It was quite increadible once it got dark. I will post some picures as soon as I can. I didnt quite get as close as many others because it was just too hot.
I am off to Rio Dulce in the North Eastern part of Guatemala to stay for two nights before my sailing trip to the islands off of Belize. I will update more when I can.
posted Wednesday January 2008