Hiking a volcano, SCUBA diving in Belize, toucans and monkeys in Tikal...

Antigua, Guatemala was our base for our hike to Volcano Pacaya. I was told there are 37 volcanoes in Guatemala but only 4 are active. This was one of them. It erupted in 2000 and you could still see the path of the lava flow and lack of life. The top of the volcano spewed a steady flow of sulfurous fog...I don't think they would have allowed such a hike in the states since travelers have been hurt here by flaming rocks and the fog.
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The wind blows pretty hard at the top which pushes the sulfurous fog in the other direction. It was a hard climb due to the uncompacted rocks. After every step up you would slide back down a couple. However, coming down was a gleeful run through the soft pulverized lava.

Antigua is said to be the oldest and possibly one of the most beautiful cities in the Americas. It would be hard to claim to refute with it's cobblestone streets, dangling bougainvillea, ruins, and surrounding volcanos.

When we arrived into the city we took out the "Travelers Bible" (Lonely Planet) and tried to get bearings on where we were. Brian helpfully pointed out that we were on Una Via street according to the sign in front of us...he's still learning Spanish.

Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Brian has put up a new book review on our "Scratch 'n Sniff" page. You do a lot of reading while backpacking while waiting for for boats and buses. Here he is in Guatemala waiting for our boat to Belize. The town of Rio Dulce was home to many "yacht-ies" who were sailing around the Caribbean or just avoiding normal life at all.

It took us three boats and about 4 hours to finally arrive to Belize's southern town of Punta Gorda. It was strange at first to be back in an English speaking country and to NOT be surrounded by people trying to sell you stuff.


Caye Caulker was a perfect laid back place to chill for a couple of days. We had a great time here sailing little two person sailboats out to the reef which rented for only $5 an hour!! The widest part of the island is only 650 yards across and the island was split in two after Hurricane Hattie.

Some friends of ours from California flew in from to meet us on Ambergris Caye for a week to join us for some diving. Here is Gary, Brian, Gary Sr., and John Pepe (a.k.a. Super Genius...spelled G-e-n-i-o-u-s! )

Carnival was in full swing in the town of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. We just sat out on our balcony and people danced by. It coincided with the elections on March 5 which added yet another parade of chanting truckloads blaring music..

We took a dive trip to the Blue Hole with Amigos del Mar. They had the only fast boat that could make the trip and give three dives. (John Pepe, Gary Fortune, me, Brian)

The Blue Hole located on Lighthouse Reed Atoll exceeds 400 ft deep and has a 1000 ft diameter. It is corroded sinkhole with stalactites at about 130 ft. some of which looked about 3 ft in diameter. Its a short dive of only about 9 minutes due to the depth but is worth it. Everyone claims to have been "narc-ed" (which is the euphoric condition from breathing too much nitrogen).

Zoolander, watch out, these guys are so HOT right now!

This picture really is for my parents who have never seen me in my dive gear. (I guess technically I don't have the gear on in this photo either.)

I knew his smile looked familiar.

We stopped for lunch at Half Moon Caye where there are rare red-footed booby birds (not to be confused with the red-footed booby in the photo!! ) That pose is for you, Seth.

Brian and I were practicing surfing for our upcoming trip to Costa Rica. (Please note the lack of waves.)

After three great dives, we were handed beer and snickers bars from our divemaster, Alex (whose energy was worth the trip alone). He kept the party going 'til we got back to shore. I am so used to working on a dive trip that it felt luxurious to be a customer.

Gary and Gary Sr. enjoy the sunset at Caye Caulker.

We winded up the coastal part of our trip at The Lazy Lizard at the Split. The next day we headed inland to the town of San Ignacio to prepare for our trip to Tikal.

We passed the border into Guatemala again to see the Mayan ruins of Tikal which has gorgeous pyramids that rise over the jungle canopy.

We climbed up three or four of the temple stairs. It was pretty steep and at least two people have tumbled to death on the stairs. The jungle shot from "The Empire Strikes Back" was filmed here.

Wild toucans and monkeys could be seen and heard throughout the hike around Tikal. We also saw tarantulas and Caudi Mundis (which look like a cross between a raccoon and an anteater).

Thanks Pepe, Gary, and Gary for a great visit! We miss you!!

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