Machetes & Goat Milk, Belize, Guatemala & El Salvador

Volcan Acatenango & El Salvador

Leaving Guatemala CIty I made my way to Antigua, also known as gringoville. I wanted to climb up my second volcano of the trip, Volcan Acatenango at 4k meters, to get a view of the very active Volcan Fuego. Everyone and their mom told me to go with a tour group, so I decided to go alone. It wasn't an hour into the hike when I bumped into a tour group on their way up. 5 Canadian girls, a couple fellas from Australia, an Israeli and a Kiwi tour guide made for a very international group. We started talking and they invited me to tag along for the rest of the hike. We made our way three quarters of the way up to camp for the night. A little food, some high altitude body warming beverages, and chocolate cookies had us feeling good during the evening as we waited for an eruption from nearby Volcan Fuego. Sure enough the volcano erupted, a sight that was simply unbelievable. One of the Australians and I got my tent after the wind blew it down the volcano, and sure enough old Fuego had a few more eruptions waiting for us. The next morning we hiked up to the summit for sunrise and made a speedy descent back down to warmer weather. My time in El Salvador was short, enjoying pacific coast views that reminded me of California and a couple trips to renewable energy areas. I talked with the folks at a solar farm and one of El Salvador's geothermal plants. Great sights to see from a country that still struggles to develop in other areas.

IMG_4494One of the better dinner table views I have had. I stayed with a family who welcomed me in at dusk to their mountain side home outside of Guatemala City.IMG_4508

IMG_4524Catarino and his burro named Shakira. "Ooo baby when you talk like that, you make a donkey go mad!"IMG_4532 IMG_4548

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IMG_4554This is a shot of one of the eruptions from Volcan Fuego. The bursts of liquid hot magma (Dr. Evil voice) were very impressive, and the ground shaking rumbles would wake us up in our tents.

IMG_4504 View of Antigua and one of its many surrounding volcanoesIMG_4517I saw a commercial that they are making another KungFu panda movie. A friend of mine named Akshay will likely watch it 3,000 times in the next year.IMG_4525

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IMG_4558 Sunrise from the top of Volcan AcatenangoIMG_4570 I need to give a big shout out to this chicken. I left my bike and extra gear in a woodshed while I hiked up Volcan Acatenango. Not only did this chicken protect her little chicks, she watched over my stuff too. Thanks pollo.IMG_4626This is the only photo of El Salvador I will share for now. Sleeping in this hamaca next to the ocean by far made for the best night of sleep I have had on the trip. I got to watch men come in at night from fishing off of little inflatable rafts. They wore hand and feet fins and tied their catch to their legs. The next morning I would watch the fishermen push their boats on to shore, taking note of their tactics so that I could help in Nicaragua.

Guatemala City

I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Guatemala City (Guate) hosted by Alfredo Maul of G-22.org. Alfredo is a unique individual in the Guate community for his progressive views on ecological living and sustainability. Alfredo started G-22 as an effort to educate architects and the Guatemalan community on ways to design both buildings and lives in an environmentally friendly manner. He also started Biciudad.org, a non profit bike shop that is helping promote urban cycling in the country's capital. I thoroughly enjoyed staying in Alfredo's ecologically friendly bike hostel and biking the city after overhauling my bike in the Biciudad shop.

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IMG_4426A look at my groceries after a trip to el supermercado and Central America's largest outdoor market 

 

 

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Belize & Northern Guatemala

I have no pictures from Belize, but I did go to Shibalba, one of the gates to the underworld where the Maya sacrificed people to their gods. I would have take photos there, but some butterfingers dropped his camera on a skull a few years ago and now they prohibit cameras....so enjoy the photos of northern Guatemala!

IMG_4205Guatemalteco getting the job done! Note that the branch is tied to his back and fully balanced in the air. Throughout Guatemala I normally see people walking the streets with wood piled on their back for fuel to cook and keep warm.

Meet Frank the Flying Dutchman. Frank has ridden over 570,000 kilometers (that's more than 350,000 miles) on his bike around the world for the last 40 years. Still going strong as he is finishing up his tour of some Central American countries. Frank shared stories and tips from his journeys as we walked ruins and shared a Coke. You the man Frank. His site is  www.frankvanrijn.nl

IMG_4224Saved the best for last. The ruins of Tikal. I arrived before sunrise as scrambled my way through the dark in the jungle to stumble up on the Gran Plaza. Truly spectacular. A couple people have died trying to climb the temple above. I survived.

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Recording of howler monkeys screehing in the ruins of Tikal. These guys greeted me on the way into pitch black jungle in the morning.

 

IMG_4324Late night Guatemalan soccer match by the Lake

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IMG_4393 As I biked toward Guatemala City, pine was in the air. Welcome to Palletland

IMG_4389 Agricultural landscape in the hills of Guatemala

IMG_4369 On the morning of February 9th I heard Latin music and shouts from children as I biked into a small pueblo in a mountain valley. Seconds later I was asked to remove my helmet while dozens of kids threw flour in my hair. A Guatemalan tradition to celebrate Carnival, the kids, some dressed in costumes, take the streets in a parade to school. I bought a bag full of flour to get back at them, but ended with enough flour in my hair to make a small pastry.

IMG_4355 I spent more than 5 hours relaxing in the natural hot waterfall of Finca El Paraiso. I think this is actually heaven on Earth, at least for a biker with a sore back.

IMG_4339 One night after setting up my tent I was approached by two neighboring families with competing offers to host me for the night. Hospitality which I have found is not rare in Guatemala. I had to decline the offers that night, but one of the fathers gave me his machete for protection during the night. My first machete. Fortunately or unfortunately I didn't use it during the night and felt unproductive the next morning.

IMG_4332 Meet Regis, a Frenchamn who is walking from Mexico to Argentina. He is the first person I have met who I believe has to work harder than I do to get through the Americas. Regis lives in a tree house in France and recently is living with a goal to spend as little as possible. An interesting pilgrimage he is on.

IMG_4328 In Guatemala the least expensive water for me comes in bags. These bags have also been used as water balloons by some children who felt the urge to throw them at my tent.

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