Sunday, 30 August 2009
Friday, 28 August 2009
Thursday, 27 August 2009
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
After Dangriga, I did two things, I'd been planning for a while. First I visited the Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary, the only nature reserve designated for jaguars, of course I saw no signs but I was also disappointed as I had heard there were lots of neotropical river otters and I walked along the river as far as I could without seeing any signs. Then I discovered that the cooker in the camp kitchen didn't work so dinner was bannana cake.
Much closer to what I'd hoped was the two days homestay in the Maya mountains at a village called NaLuumCa, where I did get to see a jaguar footprint. I also stayed in a traditional Maya house made of wood with a thatched roof and ate what the family ate, which was (you guessed it) rice and beans with tortillas. I also learn't that they have tried to set up a village school but been stopped by a special feature of Belizean politics where anything set up by one party is cancelled when the other takes over. This even extends to the unused bus by the roadside which was there because the owner had a transport contract before the election, so of course he couldn't have one after.
To get to a village I had to go to a tiny town called Punta Gorda on the south coast and discovered on the way that buses in Belize are air conditioned almost at random, they cost a little more but are run by the same companies and still pick people up at the side of the road and allow passers by on board to sell food. From Punta Gorda it was three miles in a yellow school bus up dirt roads, exactly the kind of roads that in Honduras the buses weren't allowed to go on, then a 15 minute walk. I returned to Dangriga today by the same route but starting at 3 in the morning in the pouring rain. On arrival I checked into the nearest place to the bus station and went to sleep for another 3 hours.
Saturday, 22 August 2009
Dangriga is right on the beach and I have bought a cheap digital camera to keep taking photos and a card reader to upload from the dead one so there should be photo updates soon.
Thursday, 20 August 2009
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
On returning to Antigua I discovered a group of people from Cusuco were there for the week so I managed to join them for a night out, which ended with spending an hour in the Parque Central waiting for news of a party that never materialised. The next day they had disappeared, I saw two of them in the street and they said they'd moved to another hostel and we should meet up again but it never happened.
I spent the day wandering the city and found the view over Antigua and the volcanoes from Cero de La Cruz and a large museum stroke art gallery that was also a luxury hotel so I sat for a while listening to their string quartet and wandering if I could afford to eat there. When I realised I couldn't I finally wandered out
The day after that I had a shuttle booked from Antigua to Coban, which turned out to be a man who picks you up in his car, takes you to the bus station in Guatemala City and buys you a ticket on the regular direct bus. The "Imperial city of Coban" was a spawls of ugly breeze block buildings and adverts so even though it had been six hours I decided to push on. I found a minibus to Lanquin but it was already full, so they put some small stools in the space by the door and I sat on one of those. Then two men selling tickets decided to board and stood in the footwell by the door leaning on me, after five minutes we picked up another passenger who somehow fitted in front of them and I spent a happy hour wondering what kind of medical assistance I might need to restore circulation and how many vital organs had been crushed. On the plus side a man on the bus revealed that he worked in a hostel right by Semuc Champey and could arrange to take me straight there.
Semuc Champey has a river running through caves undeneath and a series of pools you can swim in above and it looks like I may have to extend my list of most amazing places in the world again.
In the morning I did a tour going through the pools and climbing down a rope through a waterfall to the caves, in the afternoon we went tubing in another part of the river. Then I discovered I was down to my last 14 quetzales, which I spent on a final lunch. I expected to do very little that night but instead the other guests took care of me and we wound up with a bottle of rum and a pack of cards till la
In the moring I had an eight hour minibus ride to Flores, not as bad, but pretty foul, especially when the driver refused to stop at a service station when asked then pulled over to the side of a busy road and announced that anyone who wanted to stretch their legs must do so where there were no people around. I got to Flores and decided to protect myself in future by taking out 1000Q and booking the cheapest accomodation I could, a 20Q a night hammock.
Friday, 14 August 2009
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Santiago Atitlan may have good views but it is not a place to stay if you plan on eating out, the choices seemed to be takeaway pizza or stalls selling cold fried chicken that may or may not have seen a cooker in the past week. Eventually I found a cafe where the choice was hamburgers or pasta. I settled for a simple pasta with olive oil and garlic, figuring that should be safe enough, it may have been the worst pasta ever.
It appears the fiesta runs for a few days so I decided to visit another lake town called San Pedro La Laguna. The crossing was fairly rough with nowhere on the boat that didnt get sprayed but in the sun it was all dry again by the time we docked. San Pedro appears to be two towns a working Spanish area at the top of the hill and a collection of hippiesh cafes on the shore. The hippie area is actually very pleasant with lots of gardens, lake views and strangely small cornfields among the buildings. I also had a great lunch to make up for last night, in a place where the tables are in a set of gardens running down to the lake.