chad on the boat ride across the lake
wow... what a day! we woke up bright and early this morning.. or at least that was the plan... no trip is ever complete without oversleeping and almost missing your transport! we had an alarm mishap, and our 6am pickup was there just minutes after we started to wake up.. we asked them to give us an extra 10 minutes, and it was on to speed packing and skipping showers... We made it to the dock just in time to catch our *tiny* boat with like 30 people in it.. The views the whole way across the lake were amazing. It was such a breath-taking experience just to look around, little did we know what laid ahead for us..
once we made it across the lake, we stopped in at a resturant just up from the docks in San Pedro. It's a good thing that we had breakfast because we were in for quite the work out today!
to get to the volcano we had to first hike through town, and if the incline of the streets was to be any indication of the actual hiking of the volcano, i knew we had our work cut out for us. It was actually close to an hour before we reached the entrance to the national park, where the volcano began...
about 20 minutes before we made it to the park, we stopped to take a breather and check out the views... these two little kids were just walking up the hill, perhaps just to keep busy for the day.. they spoke no english, so it was only thanks to our guide that i was able to explain that i wanted their photo... unlike the little girls back in pana, just seeing their faces on the view screen of my camera was an exciting experience for them. sometimes it's easy to forget that technology that we often take for granted is something special for people who live without it..
it was an absolutely beautiful day today, but the heat and altitude really made this a grueling 4.5 hour hike.. there wasn't much in the way of shade, and when we found the shade, it was hot and muggy... but the views all along the way, really made it worthwhile..
finally after the first 2 hours, my asthma was kicking in, and i was ready to quit.. but chad refused to continue without me, and the stuborn photographer in me knew i would regret it if i didn't at least make it to the first vista point... so we tracked on, stopping pretty frequently so i could catch my breath, and even use the inhaller a few times..
but my patient boyfriend just joked around with me, and even carried my stuff so that we could keep on working our way up the mountain until we finally reached the first of 3 platforms..
at this point we were a little more than 1/2 way to the top, exhasted, and ready to call it a day... not to mention the next two sectors were even more steep and a harder climb... from the park entrance to the top of the volcano is about 800 meters... to put it in perspective we had already hiked up approximately 3-4 miles in hot humid conditions at a fairly step incline...
so we took about 30 minutes to relax and enjoy the views
before we started back down the mountain.. the hike down took just over 2 hours.. we made it to the dock just in time to catch the last possible boat that would allow us to get our 4:30 shuttle back to antigua...
Jul. 24th, 2005 @ 04:03 pm
yesterday we arrived in Guatemala City in the morning.. we had decided to start our trip to Guatemala in a city called Panajachel, the portal into Lake Alitlan. The lake is actually a volcanic crater that is surrounded by 3 10,000 foot volcanoes, Toliman, Atitlan and San Pedro.
Getting to Pana (as it is referred to by travelers and locals alike), was not as simple as catching a bus or train from Guatemala city.. first we would have to take a bus to Antigua. Antigua is the old capital of Guatemala, and located about an hour away for Guatemala City. It is the travel hub of Guatemala for foreigners because it is "safer" than Guatemala City, and much smaller and easier to navigate. We will be returning to Antigua after a few days here in Pana, so I will talk more about it later. We had an hour or so to kill until the next shuttle bus to Pana, so we grabbed some traditional Guatemalan food (i had some scrambled eggs with tomato and onion, some black bean mush, and fried plantains..) and wandered around a little..
the bus ride to Pana was our real introduction to the wonders of Guatemalan drivers! talk about crazy.. on winding roads with frequent changes in altitude, they were fearless and fast.. passing slower vehicles when there was only one lane of traffic each direction, and half the time it was impossible to see around the next curve... their answer to the possible danger? honk the horn repeatedly until you were back in your own lane.. the views were breathtaking if you could put the fear of death out of your mind.
it was late afternoon when we arrived, and the clouds were starting to roll in... Chad had been a little apprehensive about my "no reservations" policy when we were in the planning stage, and when the first couple of hotels we walked into were booked, he seemed to be wondering if he should have trusted me with that judgment call.. but after seeing a couple of places that we passed on, and ultimately stumbling upon our perfect little hotel room, he was convinced that i knew what i was doing...
as we unpacked and got settled, we soon discovered that we were not alone in our room... and what would prove to be a great enemy for me on this trip, began with the first day... there was a little spider playing in our bathroom sink... he didn't look like the friendly harmless type, but i'm not too big on killing spiders, because well they do help us out by getting rid of other bugs, like the far bigger threat: mosquitoes...
but otherwise our room was great.. a decent shower, hot water, a fan and a patio with an amazing view... just as we started unpacking, the downpour began... we spent the next two hours in our room listening to and watching a fabulous thunderstorm... the storm even managed to knock out the power a few times... when the rain died down, we went out for dinner and made it an early night..
so this morning we decided to sleep in and relax... little did we know that the sun would go into hiding a few hours after we decided to get up.. thankfully i was able to get a picture of the amazing view off our patio while we still had clear skies!
we headed out to brunch and decided on a restaurant with a deck that overlooked the lake... it was nice and warm out and the views
from this place were great!
it started to get overcast and muggy as we were finishing our food, but we decided to just wander the streets
and see what this city had to offer... there was tons of shopping, and i was glad to see that my bartering skills were still intact... the neat thing about Pana is that in addition to all the traditional goods, they had all kinda of neat things to look at... beautiful wood carvings, hand-made instruments, tons of textiles, amazing paintings, lots of silver jewelry (and finally i have found jewelry at the prices i became accustomed to in Thailand
!), even pipes and bongs!
but even better than the shopping was just getting to see what life here looks like... the chicken buses, like the one shown above are infamous in Guatemala and neighboring Central American countries... Known for their affordability, it is said to be quite the experience... but with old school bus benches meant to hold 2-3 children crammed in with 5-6 adults and occasionally children, and of course caged chickens... they are also well known for the high prevalence of pick-pockets and thieves who will go so far as to climb on top of the buses and steal people's luggage from the roof! needless to say we decided that as tempting as it all sounds, the chicken buses are one Guatemalan experience that we have no interest in having!
one of the largest commodities of Guatemala is it's traditional, colorful textiles and clothing
... and not unlike many other developing and poorer countries in the world, the children start working young to help provide for their families... these three little girls have learned that perhaps a better opportunity for them lies in letting people take their photos for money. first they will offer you their trinkets, and if you agree to buy so much of it, they will let you take their pictures, but if you aren't interested in woven bracelets or blankets, you can opt to just give them cash for a photo... quite the entrepreneurs, their starting price is $5 a piece! and if you want a second shot because the lighting wasn't right or whatever, be prepared to pay again... of course, everything is open for negotiation, so for the bargain of $5 total i was able to get their photo...
perhaps one of the most beautiful places i've seen, Lake Alitlan and the cities that border its shores offer a wonderful juxtaposition lush green covered mountains and volcanoes with quaint buildings, a mixture of modern and more simple transportation, western influences on clothes and foods, and traditional Guatemalan culture...
tomorrow morning we are going to get up early (6AM!) to hike one of these volcanoes and explore one of the little villages on the other side of the lake..
after 2 planes, 2 busses, some of the craziest drivers in the world, a hunt for an atm that wasnt broken or out of cash, a 4 hourthunderstorm, and finding a big spider crawling through my unpackedstuff, i finally feel more settled...
its a lot harder to travel in central america without speaking the language than any of the other countries i have traveled in... even trying to decipher menus is a challenge...
everyone weve met has been super nice though...
anyways, all is well hopefully tomorrow the rain stops!
Jul. 22nd, 2005 @ 08:50 pm
after nearly a year of being homebound, it's time to hit the road again...
it will be a challenge to travel with chad.. in many ways a true test...
i'm hopeful that mercury retrograde will not throw any obstacles in our way...
well, it's off to central america! hope you all have a fabulous next 11 days!
so the travel bug has finally got to me again, and a few months ago Chad and I booked our tickets to Central America... It will be his first time traveling outside of the US, and my first time in Central America...
I wanted to share my love of travel with the man I love, so I took him out to the city one morning, sat him down over brunch and said, this is important to me, and I want it to be important to you too.. so let's brainstorm and figure out somewhere to take a short trip later this summer...
So we headed to the travel section at Borders and I gave him three criteria to work with, and left the rest up to him.. I said, I want to go somewhere I haven't been, I wanted to spend at least a day or two somewhere where I could do some diving, and I think it should be somewhere that is less than, or around, 5 hours by plane away... After browsing through many books and travel guides he chose Guatemala..
At this point it was up to me to decide, where nearby did I want to get in my diving... I did some research and was basically trying to decide between Belieze which neighbors Guatemala to the North, or the Bay Islands in Honduras with was Southeast from Honduras.. Ultimately, the value for money, and the fact that Honduras and the bay islands are less developed and not as much a "tourist destination" led me to decide on Honduras..
so in a matter of days, it's off we go!
|» some traveler's humor..|
my friend who is visiting from london right now forwarded this on to me today :) |
Date: 12 Aug 07:17 (BST)
To: tina @
Subject: Fwd: FW: To all ex, current or wannabe back-packers
Having trouble readjusting to life back at home now that the travelling is over? Here's a few handy hints to help you settle back in.
1) Replace your bed with two or more bunk beds, and every night invite random people to sleep in your bedroom with you. Ensure at least once a week a couple gets drunk and shags on one of the top bunks. Remove beds one by one as symptons improve
2) Sleep in your sleeping bag, forgetting to wash it for months. Add some bugs in order to wake up with many unsightly bites over your arms and legs.
3) Enlist the help of a family member to set your radio alarm to go off randomly during the night, filling your room with loud talking.This works best if the station is foreign. Also have several mobiles ringing, without being answered. To add to the torture, ask a friend to bring plastic bags into your room at roughly 6 in the morning and proceed to rustle them for no apparent reason for a good half an hour.
4) Keep all your clothes in a rucksack. Remember to smell them before puting them on and reintroduce the use of the iron SLOWLY.
5) Buy your favourite food, and despite living at home, write your name and when you might next be leaving the house on all bags. This should include mainly pasta, 2 minute noodles, carrots and beer.
6) Ask a family member to every now and again steal an item of food, preferably the one you have most been looking forward to or the most expensive. Keep at least one item of food far too long or in a bag out in the sun, so you have to spend about 24 hours within sprinting distance of the toilet.
7) Even if it's a Sunday, vacate the house by 10a.m., and then stand on the corner of the street looking lost. Ask the first passer-by of similar ethnic background if they have found anywhere good to go yet.
8) When sitting on public transport ( the London Tube would be ideal) introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you, say which stop you got on at, where you are going, how long you have been travelling and what university you went to. If they say they are going to Morden,say you met a guy on the central line who said it was terrible and that you've heard Parsons Green is better and cheaper.
9) Stick paper in your shower so that the water comes out
in just a drizzle. Adjust the hot/cold taps at regular intervals so that you are never fully satisfied with the temperature. Because of this frustration, shower infrequently.
These simple but effective instructions should help you fall back into normal society with the minimum effort.
theres a certain sadness that comes with returning home from any amazing experience... its like having your heart broken for the first time ever... as if you had never known the possibilities of love until you embarked on this amazing journey and opened your eyes to the world of opportunities and realities that exists out there... having it as such a recent memory stings like jumping naked into freezing cold water, a thousand knives stabbing you until you just go numb overwhelmed by it all... you start to question if you appreciated it enough, if you went after it enough, if you fought hard enough to keep it.. then you remember that it was yanked away from you and totally out of your control... |
i think that sadness is magnified 1000 times over when you are stranded out in the middle of no where and so basically isolated from everything and everyone...
the one thought that made comming home tollerable was knowing i would have my friends and family to come back to... my mom is already out of town until next friday, my dad joins her tomorrow but is out for the evening, my brother is off to some party, and im all alone in a big empty house, pretty much an hour away from the city, with no friends close by...
and as i sort through my stuff and start to settle into the guestroom that is to be my "home" for an undetermined amount of time, i have to ask myself how im going to survive in this existance.. the memory of how much fun i had, how many amazing people i met, how many moments i sat there and wondered if life could possible be any more perfect than that moment, only to have something else completely blow my mind while the first memory was still fresh... you would think these things would make it easier, but it doesn't.. it leaves you with cravings that only a true addict could understand, with the burden to carry knowing that there are things out there that you are missing out on and every moment in time is unique and you can never get back what you had and never recreate the magic that it was, and every moment you sit here doing nothing is a moment where you could have been creating yet another incredible snapshot in your minds eye to file away under "wow"
at least steve, the british boy i went diving with in oz will be in town soon, so i can kinda still pretend i am traveling...
thank god burningman is just a couple weeks away, i'm going to need to get out of here...
|» welcome home!|
heh.. so after 27 hours in airports and on planes, I have returned to the bay area...|
for now, i am living/staying with my parents in the east bay (oh fun!)...
( blah, blah, blah...Collapse )
|» all good things must come to an end...|
and what an amazing experience it has been getting to this particular end...|
its bittersweet coming home, when it means leaving behind a lifestyle that i have grown so attached to...
but what a beautiful place to finish it all off. i've been in queenstown, NZ for the last 8 days and it has been amazing. i did a 12,000ft skydive (wow!!), spent 4 days snowboarding--one of which i got to do a full day all girls clinic at a terrain park called the snowpark. it was sponsered by billabong and the coaches are all amazing boarders. i got a lot of good feedback and tips on the basics, and learned how to take jumps (nothing fancy yet--just catching some air and landing them, but you've gotta start somewhere), started working on riding switch--dont know how you goofy people ride that way, it is so disorienting!--, attempted a small box (ow!), and made it halfway up the quarter pipe and almost all the way back down without falling... all in all it was an amazing day and the most fun i've had snowboarding yet... today i took a private lesson at cornet peak (aka concrete peak) and it was good because he pointed out the little things i am doing that are keeping me from progressing and we worked on retraining my muscles to do it the right way... however there was loads of ice so that sucked, and after that combined with boarding 4 of the last 5 days i am wreaked! i'm sure the fact that i've been out every night i've been here until at least 2am (usually between 3-4) doesnt help either...
my hostel roomie jess and i enjoying a baileys and hot chocolate after some
snowice boarding at cornet peak
fun times at the bar with a aussie boy names brad
its such a beautiful little town, and i wish i could stay longer...
but at the same time, i think i am about ready to come home, if for no other reason that to see all my lovely friends and family. i have missed you all greatly these last 5 months, and im interested to see what you are all up to back home! and on that note, you can all reach me once again from friday on on my old mobile number... if you should have it and dont, email me tina at viberation dot com and i will shoot you the number :)
anyways, i should be going, there is a hot tub and a beer waiting for me, not to mention the required last night of the trip/in town bender that i've been informed by all my new friends here that i am about to go on!
|» drunken update|
skydiving was awesome.
snowboarding: hmm.. well the snow here sucks ass in comparisson, and i now truely appreciate quality equiptment...
and ummm yeah i should make a carreer at dancing on tables.. i seem to be good at it ;)