A catch up post (Copan, Volcanos, Kayaking, Tikal, Semuc Champey, The Blue Hole, Belize Independence Day, Coco Bongos)

Hmm, it appears that I’ve neglected the blog somewhat! I’m currently sitting in San Francisco and the blog still thinks I’m in Rio Dulce in Guatemala! It’s easy to see why I’m behind – I’ve been having too much fun to sit down and write about things! To catch myself back up, I figured I’d do a “catch-up” post and jot down the things I’ve done!

Copan

After Rio Dulce I took the buses out to Copan in order to visit my first Mayan ruin. It was there I re-ran into Dave and Cornel from Utila and also met Adam. I would travel with Dave, Adam and later Rob until I left Central America, although Cornel left in Lago Atitlan.

Copan was great – it’s a small temple complex which is easily visited in a couple of hours and has been cleared quite nicely so that you can see most of the ruins easily. It wetter our appetite for Tikal!

More pictures of Copan can be found in the Digitallery album Central America – Honduras – Copan

Climbing San Pedro Volcano

In Lago Atitlan Rob, Dave and I started to climb the Volcano at 3am. It was a daft idea as we missed the sun-rise and the weather at the top was terrible (it was nicer later on). The only benefit was that Rob was badly hungover and provided the entertainment by suffering for the entire climb!

More pictures of San Pedro Volcano can be found n the digitallery album Central America – Guatemala – San Pedro & Lago Atitlan

Kayaking on Lago Atitlan

Possibly the most brutal thing I’ve done – Dave and I shared a kayak, Cornel and Adam the other and we set off to cross the lake. Within minutes of setting off and exiting the safety of the shore the kayak started to take on water to the point it was actually submerged. We made it to the far shore, dumped them in a random persons house and hitch-hiked to San Marcos (our original destination). The way back was just as tough and my arms were on fire – by the end I was shaking completely even though I had to take frequent breaks!

Climbing Pacaya Volcano

Adam, Dave and I climbed the active volcano at the back of Antigua. It was a fast climb as we needed to be back for a bus at 2pm but the group had other ideas. One girl fainted and the rest just weren’t fit enough to keep up with the three Englishmen. We got to the top, took loads of photos, got told off for going the wrong way, toasted marshmellows… We then ran back down the hill and waited at the bottom for the others. We did make it in time for the bus though!

More pictures of climbing Pacaya Volcano can be found in the digitallery album Central America – Guatemala – San Pedro & Lago Atitlan

Tubing in Lanquin

My first experience of tubing was great fun! All you do is sit on a car tyre and float down stream paddling as necessary to avoid the branches and rapids all whilst drinking beer. The drinking part proved to be quite tricky and I gave up after the first as I couldn’t control the tyre and drink at the same time. I also managed to fall out and whilst getting back in hit both feet against a bridge support – my right ankle was in agony for a day or so (and still hurts 3 weeks later) and I badly cut my left foot (which still hasn’t healed properly). Still, it was a lot more fun than I envisaged!

Caving and visiting Semuc Champey

Caving was new to me too! In freezing cold water we went through the caves holding our candles over head and had to climb waterfalls (Mark actually tried to climb the waterfall rather than the ladder!). There was too many people in the group (24) so it took a long time and people got very cold!

Summuc Champey is a unique (?) place in that the river disappears underground for a short distance and small mineral pools have formed on top each cascading into the next. It leaves an impressive scene over head and it’s amazing to swim in the bright blue pools! We swam through a little cave and jumped off ledges into the pools below. I tried diving and got it very wrong but twisted enough to land on my side rather than faceplant (like Naomi did!)

I should note that the tour operator was a great guy too. We walked in and asked for a deal for 12 people which he duly gave (120 local currency) – he then had trouble finding a guide to take us for the money so did it himself. It’s nice to know there are decent guys out there!

More pictures of Zephyr lodge, Lanquin and Semuc Champey can be found in the digitallery album Central America – Guatemala – Semuc Champey

Tikal

If Copan was tight and confined, Tikal was vast! The temples tower above the jungle and the tracks between them take an age to walk. We were originally planning to walk it ourselves but when a guide offered his services for $3 we couldn’t refuse the offer!

It was handy to have his services but Tikal was just a bit too big for it’s own good. It’s huge and the temples are very impressive but I think I preferred Copan a little as it was easier to grasp what you were seeing!

Still, it’s a great location to visit and we had fun clambering up the stairs and jumping back down them!

More pictures of Tikal can be found in the digitallery album Cental America – Guatemala – Tikal

Caye Caulker and the Blue Hole

This wasn’t on the radar of things to do until Dave suggested it. The Blue Hole is meant to be one of the most famous dive sites in the world and with my new found love of diving I decided to go along and complete my 16th, 17th and 18th dives. In hindsight it was a great dive, but not worth $200. Especially since the boat captain crashed into the surrounding reef at high speed destroying the engines and damaging the boat leaving us somewhat stranded. On the second dive my head started to pound and I didn’t really enjoy it at all, although on the 3rd dive I was fine.

On Caye Caulker we partied with the locals celebrating their independence from the UK. It was a great party with loads of drunken antics and people jumping into the sea. At one point I emptied Adam’s wallet into my pockets and them threw the actual wallet into the seat – Adam dove in after it in a panic! Emma jumped in to satisfy a dare, Dave just decided to go swimming… It was a crazy night all induced by cheap Rum and a fun attitude!

More pictures of Caye Caulker and the Belize Independence Day celebrations can be found in the digitallery album Central America – Belize – Caye Caulker

The finale to Latin America – Coco Bongo’s

This was excessive. In terms of costs it was just downright stupid – I ended up taking a boat from Caye Caulker to Chetumal, then a bus to Cancun, partied for one night and then flew to Mexico the following day. I dread to think what the total cost was (including the posh hotel in Mexico) but I will say it was worth every penny!

Towards the end of Central America we’d been planning this big night out as the majority of people were leaving at similar times (around the 23rd September) – as such we all met up in the hostel and prepared for a night to remember. Everyone was a little hungover and drunk (it was Belize Independence day the evening before) so the excitement didn’t really get going until we got into the club.

For $55 you got entrance to the show and all the drink you could take (shots included). As you can imagine we drank an awful lot (although I managed to stay reasonably sober surprisingly) and enjoyed the spectacle of dancers performing to Lady Gaga, Queen, Beatlejuice, Tron, Spiderman, Pirates of the Caribbean… It was a surreal evening but thoroughly enjoyable and a fitting climax to Central America – if South America was about solitude and reflection, Central America was about the party!

More Coco Bongo’s pictures can be found in the digitallery album Central America – Mexico – Cancun’s Coco Bongo