Visiting Chwa Nima Ab’aj also known as the Ruins of Mixco Viejo

The Cemetery in San Martín Jilotepeque

We started today by touring the cemetery next door to our hotel in San Martín Jilotepeque.  Graves dated back to the 1800’s.  I love all the colors of the mausoleums.  Mausoleums painted in colors entomb Mayans, while those painted in all white, entomb Catholic.  A combination of white and color constitutes a grave for a mixed person.  There were quite a few colored graves in this community, home to 87% indigenous people. Continue reading “Visiting Chwa Nima Ab’aj also known as the Ruins of Mixco Viejo”

Building a Bottle School in Los Potrerillos (Day 2)

Hotel Posada de Don José in San Martín Jilotepeque

We were so busy and had such a long day yesterday that today was the first day we could hardly even check out the hotel or see San Martín Jilotepeque.  The Hotel Posada de Don José in San Martín Jilotepeque was suitable for the area.  The outside was nicely painted and adorned with flower boxes.  The two floors of hotel rooms lined either side of an indoor driveway where the hotel owners parked their cars. Continue reading “Building a Bottle School in Los Potrerillos (Day 2)”

clothes for sale

A Day in Chichicastenango, Guatemala

A Tour of Chichicastenango

Today I took a tour to Chichicastenango.  It was a bit of a drive from Guatemala City and originally wasn’t in my plan. But it only cost me $15 more to do the whole tour than it did just to get to Antigua which is where I needed to be by dinner time for our volunteer project introductions.

Leaving Guatemala City

Mario picked me up at 5am.  As we exited the city on the four-lane road with a median, traffic was already mounting.  One of our two lanes was marked off by cones.  It wasn’t long before I saw cars driving on our side of the street toward us.  I gathered that this is the way Guatemala creates an HOV lane?  I’m not sure. Continue reading “A Day in Chichicastenango, Guatemala”

National Palace in Guatemala City

A Day in Guatemala City

Getting to Guatemala City

My flights to Guatemala were uneventful with the exception of the AA gate agent requesting me to insert my bag into the size. After it went in, she said it didn’t fit because I pushed it.  I looked at her and said, “I’ve traveled around the world with this bag.”

I find this annoying on two accounts. First the sizer is much smaller than the overhead bin for an A300 (there was at least 2 inches to spare when I placed my bag above my seat). Second, they seem to target tourists. For long distance flights, I dress in long cotton pants and a cotton shirt for comfort. Because I wasn’t donning a business suit, I qualified for harassment as did my seat mates.   Continue reading “A Day in Guatemala City”

telica volcano

Hiking Telica Volcano

HIking Telica Volcano

Yesterday, so many people struggled with the wind during the climb up Cerro Negro that nearly half our group bailed on the hike up Telica Volcano. I wish they would have bailed before the guide, who listened to all the complaining about Cerro Negro, shortened our scheduled hike by three hours. But I think there were only two of us that voted against a shorter hike, so we were out-voted regardless of how many people ended up going.

The good news is this tour required an all wheel drive vehicle, and the tour provided two large vehicles for only seven of us, so we got quite a bit of space. Barb, Silvia and I traveled in one car while Connie, Isabella, Janet, and Linda followed behind us.

Once again we stopped for water at the market before we continued for at least an hour to Telica Volcano. We turned off the Pan-American highway and onto a dirt road. Amazingly, not only does this one lane, dirt road provide a way to the volcano, it is also a bus route! A school bus comes twice a day to shuttle the families who live in the area into town. I saw the bus pick up some riders, but there was not an official bus stop (as we would know it), so I am not exactly sure how the bus schedule works. Of course the road is also home to ox, horseback riders, and tourists too! Continue reading “Hiking Telica Volcano”

sandboarding at cerro negro

Sand Boarding Down Cerro Negro

On the Way to Cerro Negro

Our group piled into the van and after stopping at a market for water, we took an hour ride out to Cerro Negro. Our drive took us from the paver streets to a dirt road that we shared with oxen, horse drawn wagons and more. On the way, we passed by peanut, sesame, and yucca farms. One peanut farmer was very resourceful. His family hung carved, painted airplanes on a wooden mannequin by the fence-line with a sign indicating the price, $5. Our driver honked to notify them that we wanted to support the local economy. The family also hung a cooler with bags of juices and tea for the locals. Continue reading “Sand Boarding Down Cerro Negro”

Hiking in an Extinct Volcano to Apoyo Lagoon

Town of Catarina

After a thirty minute drive, we arrived in Catarina, a small town of 8,300 people located near the Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve.  Catarina is known for its countless nurseries and art workshops.  We arrived to the city quite early as we planned to hike down an extinct volcano for a swim in the Apoyo Lagoon, so we didn’t see many open businesses.  But we did walk along one of its quaint streets to reach the trailhead at the top of the crater. Continue reading “Hiking in an Extinct Volcano to Apoyo Lagoon”

The Markets and Cathedrals of Granada, Nicaragua

Places to Visit in Granada

The Market in Granada

Today was one of leisure. After our breakfast of eggs, fruit, and gallo pinto, we headed out to the local market, just a few blocks off the plaza. At first glance it didn’t look that big, but soon we found ourselves following the locals through a maze. Booths lined the streets and indoor buildings and included a variety of products…Colgate, Speed Stick, dresses, backpacks, buckets of rice, vegetables, crabs on a string, and piles of raw chicken. All I could think of were people in the Amazing Race having to locate a particular booth. It was fun to see the life of the locals. Continue reading “The Markets and Cathedrals of Granada, Nicaragua”

Cycling, Kayaking, Hiking and Caving around Nicaragua’s Volcanoes

Things to Do Near Granada

Bike Ride to and Kayak on Lake Nicaragua

Oh what a day! We started out walking through the plaza and down the “tourist street” to pick up our mountain bikes which we rode a few miles to Lake Nicaragua. Lake Nicaragua is the largest lake in Central America, is home to fresh water sharks, and contains the largest island within a lake in the world. We planned to kayak around its 365 islets. Continue reading “Cycling, Kayaking, Hiking and Caving around Nicaragua’s Volcanoes”

Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve Near Granada, Nicaragua

Hiking in the Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve

After breakfast, we packed up our bags, loaded in the van, and got to know our tour mates as we set out toward Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve. From Managua, located on the western side of Nicaragua and about 36 miles or so inland from the coast, the Reserve was located about 35 miles to the southeast and just south of Granada.

Despite being on the highway, it took at least an hour to get to the protected area due to sharing the road with horse drawn carts and industrial trucks. On our drive, we passed shanties, farms, markets and more. In order to reach the top of Mombacho, an extinct stratovolcano, we piled into a large, open air army truck that carried us up a road made of pavers. Continue reading “Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve Near Granada, Nicaragua”