For a fiercely independent traveller who likes her own space, I have done pretty well over the last four weeks or so not to have strangled my travelling companions Ed and Steve. And I’ve even been sober most of the time too!
I picked up Ed from Guatemala City airport and we met up with Steve in Antigua, Guatemala. It’s a beautiful colonial town heaving with tourists. One of the best touristy things to do here is to hike the nearby Pacaya volcano and we were in luck – lava was flowing! Hiking through the lava field, it felt like I was Frodo plumbing the depths of Mordor. When we finally reached the red hot flowing lava, it was so hot that you couldn’t get too close without feeling like all the hairs on your body were going to be singed off. It was a really amazing experience – we even roasted marshmallows in the flowing lava!
We then headed up to Lanquín to visit the beautiful limestone pools of Semuc Champey. Swimming in the pools was quite refreshing – really clear blue water – and there were some little fish in the pools that reminded me of those fish spas that I saw in Malaysia (they like to nibble on your dead skin!).
After another long bus ride, I was back in the lakeside town of Flores, where I had previously volunteered at the animal shelter. The next morning, we awoke before the crack of dawn to visit the mighty Mayan ruins of Tikal. We saw spider monkeys swinging through the trees and heard the roar of howler monkeys from miles around. There were amazing views from the top of the famous Temple IV across the jungle canopy, where you can see the tops of other temples and pyramids poking out. Apparently the Tikal ruins were the setting for one of the scenes from Return of the Jedi – anyone recognise it??
Leaving Flores for the steamy heat of Livingston, I didn’t even mind here that I hadn’t had a proper hot shower for something like 5 weeks. We kicked back for a few days, chilling out by the pool and catching up on some holiday reading. I even slept in a hammock for the first time! Not entirely comfortable but if you were tired or drunk enough, I’m sure it would be more than adequate!
Finally, I said a sad goodbye to Guatemala and headed to the Bay Islands in Honduras for a week of scuba diving. We picked up a trio of Swedes along the way and with our group negotiating power, I managed to get myself a really good deal for diving on the island of Utila – 10 fun dives, including all gear hire, and 8 nights accommodation for only US$200!! The diving here in the Bay Islands is quite good and visibility ranged from 15-25 metres, although there was nowhere as much fish life in Utila as Cozumel, Mexico. The highlight of the week was definitely coming face to face with a baby whale shark for the very first time. The shark was around 5 metres long and a dusky blue grey colour, and it just looked so calm and serene. Absolutely magic!
The lowlight of the whole trip so far was having our hotel room broken into in Utila. Steve and I had literally just ducked out of the room for 15 minutes to grab some dinner when the thieves broke in through the window. They nicked off with my iPhone, iPod, camera (with 4 months worth of photos!), my Suunto dive computer and all my spare contact lenses. They even broke the lock on my backpack and found my passport but, strangely enough, just left it on my bed! Unfortunately for me, I only bought travel insurance for medical expenses, so only my phone is insured through my UK bank account, but the most devastating thing is really the loss of my photos. I guess I should’ve been more diligent in posting my photos to Facebook regularly! Ed was probably more unlucky, with the thieves taking his passport and a credit card.
After leaving Utila, Ed headed to the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa whilst Steve and I headed to Lake Yojoa. The region is apparently well known for the vast number of bird species that congregate here, but we were just here to stay at the D&D microbrewery. My favourite brew was the Pale Ale over the Amber Ale, Raspberry Ale and the Porter, and the blueberry pancakes here are of epic proportions! And yes, I did finish them.
I am now in Tegucigalpa for a few days to shop for a replacement camera before I meet my World Vision sponsor child, Danny. It will be interesting to see where my money goes!
Thanks to Ed for letting me borrow his photos for this post! As for those bastard thieves, get a real job.