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Antigua, City of Volcanoes

sunny 34 °C
View 15 Countries in 8 Months on JEK's travel map.

We had an early start from Rio Dulce and Captain guy was there to see us off along with Anna and Josca, who are headed in the same direction on their way to Nicaragua. It was one of the shorter bus rides we’ve taken and probably the most comfortable since we left Mexico, after this trip I will never again turn my nose up at the mere 7-hour greyhound journey to Vancouver. The trip could have been quicker without the inconvenience of travelling through Guatemala City; they had us transfer buses at both ends of the city, but we are learning to accept the inefficiencies of the Central American transportation system. We are also travelling with a very nice couple from Saskatchewan, Robert and Dixie who are here looking to purchase a second home in Guatemala. We have been told this is a very easy thing to do and there are many expats here, especially around Rio Dulce where most live very inexpensively on their boats. Josca and Anna kindly lead us to a hostel they had previously stayed at and highly recommended. Unfortunately, there were no rooms left but the woman running the hostel was extremely helpful and found us rooms above the spa next door. Two separate bedrooms with a shared bath, balcony, hot water and good wifi for about $35us a night, Score!! Antigua is the education center of Guatemala and here you can enroll in a Spanish immersion program including home stay with 3 meals and classes up to 6 hours, five days a week. The recommended stay is a month but sadly we only have a few days, guess we will have to come back. Our first night we have a terrific Thai dinner and spend some time wandering around trying, without success, to get our bearings as all the streets look the same and we aren’t really sure where our place is. When we do make it back we decide to tuck in early for fear that if we try again we may get ourselves really lost. We are so happy to have good wifi in the rooms that after breakfast we commit Emily to some schoolwork while Jim and I go in search of a tour operator and an atm. We booked a hike up the volcano for the next day in the afternoon knowing that Emily really needs to catch up on some assignments and have heard that sunset is the best time to go. We chose the easier of the two volcano treks, we’re not in the best shape of our lives and we wanted it to be as enjoyable as possible for Emily. Antigua is a beautiful city with volcanoes surrounding, two of them currently active and Jim and I have a rare moment alone to watch the sunset from a rooftop terrace. In the evening we all wander the streets having discovered it is really not that difficult to get around and find The Londoner Pub where we snack on chips and play the weekly trivia game. We didn’t win any prizes but it was fun to play, and our host, a very sarcastic, very English bloke, was entertaining. Emily is in love with all the dogs as I think I’ve said before and in Antigua they are considerably better cared for than in other places in Guatemala and we even let her pet a few of them. The pub owner has a friendly Labrador that curls up at her feet, it seems we will have a companion dog everywhere we go. We are so excited about the hike tomorrow, our comfortable rooms and superb internet access that we have another early night to rest up. Emily spends the next morning working on schoolwork and is not particularly happy about it but we have learned to take advantage of good connection when we have it and although I feel bad that she is stuck in the room we take the time to catch up on correspondence, laundry and the like. When she gets really crabby about it we suggest maybe she start the ninth grade over in public school next year and that usually puts an end to the discussion pretty quick… The shuttle to the base of the volcano hike picks us up at two pm and we are told the hike will be about an hour and a half total, that doesn’t seem so bad… We start out on a concrete and stone path that pretty much heads straight up the mountain and I am daunted before I even take the first step. We have a guide who speaks pretty good Spanglish and are followed by about a half dozen locals on horseback apparently there to give us a lift for the low price of $200 quetzals ($~28us) It’s a good thing we didn’t bring any extra money or I’m sure I would have caved. Emily made it up the hill at a pretty good pace with very little complaining, Jim did fine and I thought I was literally going to die, omg! But I made it to the top without a ride and the pain was totally worth it. The views and the majesty of being so close to an active volcano is awe inspiring. Our guide then takes us down another hill to where the lava field from the eruption two years ago is still hot enough in places to roast a marshmallow! Incredible! And then up yet another hill to a watch the sunset and that is the moment I will never forget. I’m struggling to describe the breathtaking colors surrounding us as the sun moves down to the valley bottom and the tranquility of this place. I can’t stop taking pictures and fall so far behind I’m suddenly with another group altogether. Our guide is pushing us along and we are soon to find out that coming down the mountain in the dark is as difficult as going up. Thank goodness Jim packed the headlamps. Finally, back at our rooms around 7pm we have a quick cleanup and head out to dinner at Cactus, reportedly the best Mexican food in town. We are all famished and exhausted but in a good way and tomorrow we are off to San Pedro in Lake Atitlan for more adventure. On a side note I wanted to say thanks to all our blog subscribers, you are inspiring me to stay on top of it and Kathe, you in particular are on my mind every time I add a comma or rearrange a sentence. Sometimes I am writing on a bus but at the moment I have a Modelo in hand, Amy Winehouse in the background while Emily and I watch the sunset over the ocean and wait for Jim to be ready for dinner. It’s not all “rainbows and lollipops” ( a Shawn quote ) travelling with a teen but at the end of the day we are learning to enjoy our surroundings, an appreciation for what we have and most importantly each other. Love and hugs xo

Posted by JEK 16:01 Archived in Guatemala Tagged "antigua" "volcano"

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loved this .. and the photos are spectacular.

by Momma Dawn

I am really really enjoying your blog guys! I know it is quite a commitment to keep it up but just know that I for sure wait for it with bated breath.

by Chelan

You are doing a really nice job describing everything! I love reading this. Xxoo..

by Kathe

Sometimes reading your blogs I feel like I'm right there with you but for some reason I didn't see the beautiful sunset, lol. I am so happy for all of you to be taking this trip and miss you so much. Love you all

by Leona

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