So, It was a week or so in Guatemala, Im not gonna lie, Its been bad. My keyboard is broken and I no longer ave te G or H keys, or backspace. Hence the Typos you are about to be subject to. There is a virtual keyboard which is just getting me by but its painfully slow. On top my laptop is under warranty but i need a permnant shipping address for 10days at least to ave it fixed.
We tried to do a lot of tings out here. But the Guatemalan people were onto us. Everywhere we go there are tolls. For entering towns, for using roads, if they could charge, they did. We stopped a few days at lake Atitlan. We haggled a little for the 40q hotel room. The local volcano National Park entrance cost 100 Quetzales (about 10quid), so we didn’t enter the park. This is the most expensive entrance fee for one day in a park I have come across in the world. The problem is Guatemala has realized tourists have money, and charge accordingly.
The first volcano charge wasn’t too off-putting, as there are several active on our list to visit. We ditched out of Atitlan and drove for Fuego, which ajoins onto Acatenango. It provides a 5000ft climb through rain forest over black rock. We arrived the evening before the climb to smoke rising out the top and had a quick scout of the way up, a maze of twisting trails through the crops on the fertile slopes. In the morning we would set off at 3am for the sunrise from the summit. The forecast showed a clear window from 5am till 10am. We camped outside a guides house and in the darkest hour rose, picked up our prepacked bags, drank a caffine shot each and departed. The rain started 1000ft up. I didn’t know the tropics could reproduce weather similar to Scotland on a wet winter day. On went warm layers and waterproofs. But still painfully numb hands. By half way the rainfall was going up hill. We told ourselves it was definately going to clear despite the deterioration in visibility. The summit was a beautiful windswept mars like surface, but blackish.
We ran down the mountain to warmer weather, and by that I mean rain. The descent route went down deep narrow chutes washed out by the rain. It was great from running down, Karli fell over several times. At the entrance to the park attendants informed us we have to pay more money, another 50 each. We were up early enough to miss them, but they always catch you in the end.
In Antigua the situation worsened. It was like being in a western city. Nothing but hotels and hostels in every building, beautiful as they were. A hideous one way system tried to thwart our departure but after a hour or two we were out. The last volcano on the list was Pacaya. On arriving guides ran up to our vehicle stating we had to pay 100Q per person to climb up to a col, but an extra hundred was needed to go to the active rim. It wasnt allowed to climb without a guide. This was the final straw. We left and headed for the cost. Driving into the night and seeing motorcycles with no lights,dogs and people appear out the dark like ghosts and disappear as quickly. Bumping over every pothole, Karli telling me it will be a mile away, then two, then ten, we rolled up to a hostel late. It was owned by westerners charging 380Q for the last double room in the hostel. More than most western cities. This isn’t what we came her for. The hostel owner did however point us across the road to a restaurant that might let us camp the night. We crossed the road and found Soul Food Kitchen, with the owner Gary, a south African man who said we could camp for 40Q. That’s more like it. He also made brilliant curries for 45Q. We stopped a couple of nights relaxing. Finally someone not trying to extort us for trying to breathe. Even the local were eating there. Outside there was a lovely pool and we were welcomed to use the showers and wash clothes at no extra cost. He also allowed us to pick coconuts, with my feeble body hanging off one trying to pull it down. Then Karli wildly swinging a machete to try and open it. The local restraunt girl eventually helping.
Yesterday we crossed into El Salvador. After a few hours back and forwards at the border crossing not understanding a lot of what was happening we were in. Its much the same here. They have even embraced the american dollar, you cant get to a lakeside without paying for at least drink in a hotel. The lakeside road is lined by 8foot concrete with barbed wire and gates. The national park only has hotels, not even a car park, well, so far at least. C’mon central, what are you playing at. We should have known at the entrance to El Sal, as we were passed a Disney style map showing hotels, attractions, board hire etc.
Im not saying its all bad, it is beautiful. But I hate the feeling of being an ant trapped between concrete walls were even a forest cost money to be in.
My training routine has been interrupted by the cost of going anywhere that isn’t either 100 quetzal a time or guards with pump action shotguns telling us its too dangerous for us to be there. Seriously, every delivery wagon, even milk wagons come with their own armed shotgun guard! its one extreme or the other. O well, maybe something fun and free will present itself.
that’s all for now folks.