Sunday, April 08, 2012

Guatemala: Antigua, Iximche, Lago de Atitlán, Monterrico

So last week was Spring Break. We took the opportunity to pop down to Guatemala for a just over a week. By pop down I mean a 15hr trip with three flights, two lots of customs and the worst airport in the world (Las Vegas), but it is slightly closer than New Zealand, so I will call it a 'pop'.

We met up with Andy and Kath which was freakin' cool. I love those guys. They are currently on a crazy long adventure. Cycling around the world. Note that Steph and I did do it first though...

The first few nights were in Antigua, a small colonial town an hour or so from Guatemala City. Its pretty nice, UNESCO listed and was all go while we were there. Guatemala is super catholic and Semana Santa (Easter) was coming up and the weekend we were there they were celebrating the 4th Sunday of Lent. Carpets of coloured sawdust and flowers on the street, large processions, heaps of people, and markets with really really good food (tacos, papusas, churros, churrasco chorizo/pollo/something else really good).

Volcán de Agua over Antigua

Carpet of sawdust and flowers being made

Procession through the street... heaps of people.

From Antigua we headed to Tecpán for the night. This was a pretty average Guatemalan town, with some of the best fried chicken in the world. Also some of the best tacos ever. Unfortunately for us, we only had a week so were not able to get to the famous Mayan ruins of Tikal in the jungles of the North. But near Tecpán were some pretty neat 600 year old Mayan ruins at Iximche. The highlight for me was what appeared to be a well preserved (well restored?) playing field for a Mayan ball game.

Mayan playing field.
From Tecpán  we headed to Panajachel on Lake Atitlan. A pretty lake with some nice towns scattered around its edges.

Lake Atitlan from Panajachel

Panajachel Street. Tuk tuks like India!
 We spent a night over at San Pedro La Laguna which was nice. Described as a  'hippy town' is was laid back with a very friendly banana bread tout to whom we gave plenty of business.

Kayaking on Lake Atitlan

Beautiful, calm mornings.

San Pedro La Laguna

View from out hotel at sunset. Lake Atitlan.
Next stop was Montereccio. A beach town on the Pacific coast about 5 hours from Lake Atitlan (but 2.5hrs from Anitgua, keeping our trip tightly in the south). The plan was to spend two nights here, but due to extreme heat and humidity, many many mosquitoes, and four soft travelers, we only spend one night here. It was a nice night with a red card, and bottle of rum and me giving Andy a very very bad hair cut. We did manage to go on a cool boat tour of the Biotopo Monterrico-Hawaii Mangrove filled park. This is where heaps of turtles live, but all we saw were some neat flying fish and white herons / egrets.

View from our room on the beach.

Red Card!

Mangroves and waterways.

Wild life!

Back to Antigua after Monterrico. We enjoyed more of the Semana Santa festivities and managed to climb a volcano too. The ground was hot, and there was smoke in places, but no lava to jump over luckily.

The way up the volcano.

Steph and I as high as we got (up the volcano)

A chicken bus! Old US school buses prettied up.
 That was out trip! It was back to work after that. It was quite a different experience travelling a small part of a country for only a week, as opposed to cruising around a continent until you ran out of money. But we really enjoyed it and got a good adventure out of it. To finish, here is Andy.. who has wisely decided to come visit us in Portland in a few weeks!

Portland: Home

So these days Steph and I are living the dream in Portland. We got here late last year after a few visa delays (I had to go to the UK for a few weeks and spend time with friends... sucks to be me!). Portland is treating us really well, Steph has a sweet position at PSU and I have an awesome job downtown. And we have the best puppy ever:

Lucy a few month back, she is way bigger now.
The little detour to the UK was fun as (and happened about 6 months ago...) and I caught up with a bunch of people all over the place. Edinburgh to bromantic escapes in the Lakes District to London.


Lakes District. Nice to see more of England after spending all my previous times in London.
Once in Portland, we got a sweet apartment... then it got foreclosed on.. so we got an even sweeter one. Here is what we are up to:

Weekend escape to Lapine State Park

Pioneer Square with Occupy Portland from my office.

Lucy at the Pumpkin Patch just before Halloween

PSU Campus in Fall (thats Autumn to most of you)

Multanomah Falls. If you visit, odds are I will take you here.

Steel Bridge over the Willamette River, downtown Portland.

Grimm film set a block from my work. They filmed in my building before I arrived!

Winter near our first apartment.

View from where I sit at work.
And last, but by no means least... Lucy a few days ago, she is getting pretty big, and is the best dog in the world. That is a fact.