Day 4: Volcano Pacaya

We spent our last day in Antigua…CLIMBING A MOTHERFUCKING VOLCANO.

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Well, Ed climbed. I rode a horse most of the way. Because high altitude + dust + strenuous hiking = my lungs throwing an asthmatic hissy fit.

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My trusty steed. Who is actually a lady. With a Spanish name I could not comprehend.

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For those of you who don’t know, Ed is NOT a fan of horses.

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Ok, so we’re not even really climbing yet and this is the view?!

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Dismounted at the halfway point to pose for a photo in front of this ancient oak tree.

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I had to say goodbye to my horse as we got closer to the top. This is as far as she goes.

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About to do the final part of the climb. In case you can’t tell, it’s very windy up here. On this volcano.

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We had to make it past this checkpoint before continuing.

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This one is clearly in charge.

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Success.

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There’s a shop up here. What if this was your job, and you had to commute up a volcano every day?

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This is about the time Ed started making a lot of Lord of the Rings references.

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Look how strong we are, just holding this huge rock on our shoulders like it’s nothing.

Get ready for a bunch of photos of rocks…

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We didn’t get to see any actual lava on our hike, but we did take a break to warm our butts in front of this vent.

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It’s like sitting over a pot of boiling water. Steamy.

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This was about as close to the top as we could safely get. We scrambled around for a while, checking out more rocks.

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Our guide tried to convince us to stand inside of this vent for an amusing photo. We both declined, so you’ll just have to imagine one of our faces poking out.

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From up here, you can see the larger volcanos off in the distance.

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And you can strip down to your Fishtown Fighting Shad jersey and pose triumphantly.

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Or hoist your wife over your shoulders and boom “I can’t carry it for you Mr. Frodo, but I can carry you.”

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On the way back down, there were more amazing views…

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And adorable dogs…

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We made it back to the horses, where I witnessed something else I never thought I’d see…

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Omg. Ed made friends with my horse.

We said goodbye to the volcano, and later that afternoon shuttled to our next destination: Lagos de Atilan. More about that in my next post!

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Day 3: a walking tour of Antigua

Spent the afternoon on a 3+ hour walking tour of Antigua, led by our awesome guide, Roberto, from Antigua Tours (Elizabeth Bell’s outfit). No one else showed for this time slot, so we had Roberto all to ourselves- he led us through the old cathedral (including spooky crypts), the municipal building, a jade factory; plus homes, restaurants, shops and museums (best one was the chocolate museum- mmmmm, samples). I wish I could remember even a fraction of the info he gave us, but I suck at that sort of thing so I’m just gonna show you a bunch of pictures and you’ll have to believe me that the history and culture lessons were fascinating. You could, I’m sure, get a lot of the info from Elizabeth Bell’s books if you were that interested.

But first, a word from our sponsors:

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This town brought to you by Coca Cola. No joke, they pretty much own the place.

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Day 2: Tortilla of shame

We woke up nice and early for a lazy morning of brunching at a cute little cafe called Y Tu Piña Tambien, and then wandered around town checking out some sights.

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Um, that’s a VOLCANO in the background, by the way. This whole town is surrounded by volcanos. Volcanos that actually puff smoke and sometimes blow up and spit lava everywhere. THAT kind of volcano.

We had some time to kill before our market tour and cooking class, so we stopped for a couple of drinks in the courtyard at Cafe Condesa. I ordered a sangria, not expecting it to come in a fishbowl.

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Oops. Sorrynotsorry.

Here’s a little sketch I did while we sipped:

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Because he’s such a good partner, Ed helped me finish my giant drink and we headed over to El Frijol Feliz to meet up with the owner, Luis, who fed us a few more beers before we set out to find some of the ingredients needed for our cooking adventure. This turned out to be more than just a quick trip to the market- Luis showed us around a bit of town we hadn’t seen yet, through the square which used to house the old market and then on through the new market.

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Sign leftover from the old market.

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Fuckin’ termites.

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Luis, Ed and coconuts in the new market.

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Yup, straw in my mouth in every photo of me from this day.

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I can’t remember what these were called- they have red flesh similar in texture to an avocado, but much sweeter and fruitier tasting- almost like ice cream. But a fruit.

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Ed was in charge of getting them back to the restaurant without mushing them.

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Confetti gets stuffed inside the hollowed-out egg shells, then, according to Luis, kids smash them open on each other’s heads. Fun!

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Luis led us back to his restaurant, leaving us in the capable hands of a little Guatemalan woman who was to teach us how to cook several fairly complicated dishes without any real verbal communication- because she spoke no English and we speak almost no Spanish. But we pantomimed and pointed our way through, learning words like “onion”, “salt”, “stir”, and “peel” along the way (basically, anything she had to patiently repeat to us over and over for the next 4 hours).

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We really bonded when she taught us how to make tortillas. Well, tried to teach us, because Ed and I failed pretty miserably at the part she made look so easy- slapping a ball of tortilla dough back and forth between the palms to create a beautiful flat little circle to go in the skillet. She smiled politely and encouragingly during my first few attempts, until it became obvious that I was a lost cause and all three of us wound up laughing hysterically at my tortillas of shame.

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Bet you can’t tell which one is mine. Whatever, still tasted good.

We sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labor (and a few glasses of wine), or about half of it anyway, because we had cooked an obscene amount of food by the time we were done. We took the rest to go, and delivered the boxes of leftovers to some hungry little boys on the street.

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The recipes for what we made (pepian, chilaquilas de guisquil, rice, tortillas, and molletes rellenos) are here– Guatemalan family dinner when we get back to Philly, anyone?

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Day 1: Margaritas with Frida and beers with an ocelot

Our flight landed in Guatemala City, where we hopped a shuttle straight to Antigua and settled into our little room.

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The house we stayed in is situated on the edge of town, behind Parque San Sebastián. Like most houses in Antigua, it looks deceptively small and unremarkable from the outside, but inside a string of rooms extends back from the street and wraps around a quiet, sunny courtyard. The guide who gave us a tour of the city later in the week called this style of house “Casa Chorizo”, an adorably accurate description comparing the layout of rooms to links of sausage.

One of our housemates was a very vocal cat named Amor- here he is doing his best imitation of a Halloween decoration:

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(I’ll take a moment here to apologize for my shitty photography- I’m just learning how to use a “real” camera again, so please bear with me).

We set out to explore a bit of this tiny town- you can walk across most of it in about 20 minutes- and stopped into Frida’s for some fresh margaritas and unremarkable Mexican food. They had some neat murals around the bar though:

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We picked up a local magazine which advised us to check out another bar in town, the Ocelot. We were pretty happy we did-

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After a few beers, it was getting late (or, um, not even dark yet) so we promised to return the next night and headed “home” to bed.

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A much needed rest day

Well hey!

We’re about halfway through our trip now- we’ve moved on from Guatemala to Belize. I can’t believe how fast the time is flying. I’ve been so neglectful of this blog! I had every intention to write daily, but the small amount of internet time I give myself each day is usually spent uploading photos and planning the next stop on our journey.

But today is a perfect day to do some blog blog catch up. It’s gray and drizzly here in San Ignacio, a town where there’s not much to do even on a nice day. This was meant to be a base for exploring caves and such, but Ed rolled his ankle on some wobblestones back in Flores, and it’s still puffy and sore- so I’ve wrapped it up, propped it up on some pillows, and called an official rest day.

Anyway, I’ll begin at the beginning with my next post! In the meantime, enjoy this pic of my office…

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The cha cha has landed.

While the views from the plane were lovely…
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it’s good to be back on solid ground. In Antigua, Guatemala; stretched out on the bed, listening to salsa music, relaxing for a bit before we go wandering for a bit.

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We go!

Our journey begins this morning at the most glamorous of locations: the Philadelphia International Airport. We’re sitting on a plane RIGHT AT THIS VERY MOMENT! We land in Guatemala City around 11:30am and head directly to Antigua. Until then…

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Everything we need for a month?

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New year, new blog

OMG CHA CHA’S BLOG BLOG IS BACK BACK! I know. I know that’s what you all just yelled because you’re all so excited! And you should be, if you’re interested in following me and Ed on our little honeymoon journey through Guatemala and Belize next month. So if you want to look at pictures of our trip and read whatever I feel like writing about during (and probably before and after) that trip, stay tuned…

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