Permanent Vacasian

The traveller sees what he sees; the tripper sees what he has come to see. – G. K. Chesterton

Una semana en El Salvador

March 17, 2013
by Tina
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El Salvador – Because we had to meet my sister, Rose, in Roatan, we only had a week to explore El Salvador. We thought it would be enough time to get a sense of the country considering it was small, and not very many tourists seemed to travel there. Heck, Lonely Planet doesn’t even make an El Salvador guide book – so we had to settle for an electronic copy of the El Salvador chapter from their Central American guide (not very handy when you need a map in the middle of downtown).

El Rosario church in San Salvador

El Rosario church in San Salvador

When we arrived at the bus station at 5:30am in Guatemala City planning on catching the 6am bus to San Salvador we were told that there was only one ticket left and that the next bus didn’t leave until 2pm. We really wanted to get on that early bus – the thought of spending eight more hours in Guatemala City and then arriving in San Salvador at night was highly unappealing. The sales clerk took pity on us, I guess, and told us to “just wait and see – maybe there will be tickets.” Sure enough, 10 minutes later, we were forking over the cash and boarding the bus. We even got to sit together.

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Trekking with Tina

March 11, 2013
by Tina
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Lago de Atitlán and Chichicastenengo, Guatemala – Our timing wasn’t ideal so we only had half a day in Quetzaltenango (Xela) before we had to leave on the trek to Lago de Atitlán that we had signed up for. We spent a little time in the town square and got some yummy hot chocolate (oh how I miss the hot chocolate in Mexico) and then had to attend a pre-hike meeting at Quetzaltrekkers. We learned that we would be hiking with 20 other hikers and four guides – a huge group! We also picked up all the gear we would need for the hike and some food for group’s meals.

The hills around Xela.

The hills around Xela.

Quetzaltrekkers is an interesting organization. It’s all volunteer run, and the guides are all foreigners. They volunteer for at least three months to lead hikes and run the organization. All the proceeds are donated to a school, run by the founder of Quetzaltrekkers. This model has its advantages and disadvantages: It’s great that all of the money goes to the kids and the school and that it directly benefits the community, but we felt more disconnected from the villages and people we encountered on the hike than we usually do when taking hikes with local guides. Because all the guides are volunteers, it makes sense that local people can’t afford to donate three months of their time, but it did make for a different kind of hike.

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iGuat Robbed!

February 28, 2013
by Tina
3 Comments
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Semuc Champey and Antigua, Guatemala – We decided to take a tourist shuttle from Livingston to our next location, Semuc Champey, because it would take at least three busses and over 12 hours if we tried to do it by local busses, and there was a good chance that we couldn’t make it in one day and would have to stay overnight enroute. Sometimes a little extra money is worth the connivence.

Semuc Champey from above.

Semuc Champey from above.

We started with another beautiful trip down the Rio Dulce and then met the shuttle in Rio Dulce town. The shuttle got a late start and we ended up waiting for another passenger who was also late – a total hippy that later admitted to Stuart that we was late because he was high (he also admitted that he had head lice).

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Livingston, I presume?

February 22, 2013
by Tina
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Tikal and Livingston, Guatemala – To get to Flores, Guatemala from San Ignacio, Belize  we took a taxi to the border and then walked across, paying the exit and entry fees for both countries – it’s expensive to exit Belize, and cheap to enter Guatemala. Then we had to walk down the street after crossing the border to find the minibus to Flores.

Tikal

Tikal

It’s always a little scary entering a new country – new customs, new language and everyone knows you just got there.  We found the bus alright and soon we were jam packed in a minibus on our way to Flores.

Flores, where most people stay who visit Tikal, is a small island in a lake. It’s small and touristy and there is not much going on, but really pretty. It’s not all tourist and locals hang out by the water and swim in the lake. We enjoyed the peaceful setting and our walks around the island (it takes about 20 minutes) and watching the sunset from the shore.

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