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And Jan 18 2001 - after the El Salvador earthquake on Jan 12 ... Kirsty wrote ....

Hello all,

Well, we are safe and happy here in Guatemala. We didnīt even know there had been an earthquake down south until we read our emails with messages from various people telling us it had happened and there are several hundred fatalities. We would have been sleeping in Panajachel at the time I think - a village on the shore of Lake Atitlan. Since we canīt read the newspapers and canīt understand the radio, thereīs probably a lot of stuff going on around us that we have no idea of.... 

The Guatemalan transport system - Chica buses

Visited the Chichicastenango markets from Panajachel, which were very
impressive. Heaps and heaps of stalls selling brightly coloured rugs, scarfs, masks, necklaces etc etc etc. 

 Coley and I both bought a rug and a few other bits and pieces. Hundreds of indian Guatemalans walking around the markets in their indigenous ųniforms'... the men were very cute in their brightly coloured long pants and long sleeve shirts, with a dark brown and white pin striped wrap around their waste and a white cowboy hat!


Yesterday we did a bit of altitude training... We climbed Volcano Pacaya, which is the active volcano near Antigua, where we are now.  

Volcan Pacaya, GuatemalaIf I ever think I want to go to Nepal and do treks around there, can someone please swiftly remind me that it is VERY VERY hard work!! The climb was two hours, the last hour or so through volcanic rubble at about a 45degree angle.

  Mid way up Volcan Pacaya. Volcanic rubble & solidified lava in the background.
So much
pebbles and rubble that when you take a half metre step up, your foot slips back quarter meter when you put your weight on it. 

So it was two steps forward, one step back the whole way.... But the view from the top was well worth it - absolutely gorgeous. 

And there was a heap of steam coming out of the crater. Was freezing up there, but sitting on the rocks was like sitting on a heater. Ski-ed down the steep rubble at sunset (much more fun than climbing!) and walked the last hour or so back to the bus under the stars by torchlight. We`re catching an overnight bus up to Flores tonight to visit the pyramids etc ruins in the jungle at Tikal. From there probably a couple of days on an island off Belize, then back to Mexico and a week or so around the Yucatan Peninsula.

Catch you soon.


And from Nicole ....

Hi everyone

Yes, I am alive and well and we didnt know anything about the earthquake in El Salvador until we read our emails (the typical traveller keeping up with world events!). Thanks for your concerns.

Kirst and I have been fairly busy the last week or so, so read on at your own interest!! We had the most interesting border crossing I have yet had, crossing in from Mexico to Guatemala. What was supposed to be 9 hours and 2 buses turned out to be much much more! We left at 6am and reached a very disorganised border crossing where you had to push and shove through the markets to reach the next bus, pay the corrupt border officials and then onto the next bus. No luxury coach though! The buses here are about third class.. they look like those yellow school buses you see but all bright colours and no air con. In fact a seat for two people is actually a seat for three people!! We got quite a shock the first time we were asked to move over for someone to sit on the end! We also got majorly ripped off on the bus and each bus we got on, turned out to NOT be going to the destination that we thought we were going! Luckily we met about 8 other travellers doing the same thing, some who spoke Spanish so we made it to Panajachel in about 12 hours and four buses! Quite an experience! We had a few nights in Panajachel on Lake Atitlan. 

Kirsty and Coley on the shore of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

We did a day trip to the biggest, brightest, most vibrant markets in Guatemala and bought some really practical things to lug around in my back pack - like a big colourful rug! However, it has come in handy as the nights have been a bit cold! We then moved on to Antigua and have been here for a couple of nights. Yesterday we climbed an active volcano - it was brilliant! It was a two hour climb - all up and VERY hard work. the last hour was directly up and in really loose volcanic stones so really hard to get a foot hold. The top was really worth while, getting to gaze down the crater at the smoke billowing up. Makes me wonder how many people have fallen into it since you are allowed so close. Coming down was great fun - imagine running down a ski slope in powder snow - swap that for volcanic stones and thats what we were doing at high speed! We had extra security to get us down the volcano in the dark, as the area is known for bandits. Tonight we are off on our first overnight bus (dread dread) to Tikal, some mayan ruins in the jungle. 

Mayan city of Tikal, Guatemala  
it is off to Belize (a small country I hadnt even heard of before I left London!) to spend a few nights on the carribean islands (second largest barrier reef to QLD). So, we are not far off the sun again to start on my tan after four weeks of travelling! The food is slightly better in Guatemala, thank god. I think we have enjoyed maybe one meal since we left home. And there arent many icecreams here so there will be no repeat of Dahab on my waist line!

Having heaps of fun. Take care

Love Coley..Nic


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