Monthly Archives: February 2008

Trekking From Xela to San Pedro (lake Atitlan)

Last Thursday (14th) we set of from Xela on the 3 day trek to lake Atitilan, which is about 30miles -all up or down very steep mountains with no flat bits! The first day was the hardest trekking for about 9 hrs first up, then down into a valley and back up again. We went through some very pretty cloud forest looking out over an incredibly green mountain landscape and along paths walled with bamboo. We finishing the day dusty and dirty with achey legs, but in a very pretty little village (with no road access). The village had banana, orange and papaya trees in it, and little gardens outside the small houses full of flowers, we also saw coffee beans laid out in the sun to dry from the many coffee plants which surrounded the village- but much to Chris disappointment we didn´t get to try any of the coffee. We spent the night on the floor of one of the huts with our Guide Heizar (who also lives in our house) and the 2 other people on the trek with us; Judith a girl who had just spent the last 7 months cycling down from Alaska to Mexico (and didn´t have achey legs at all) and Mark, a Canadian on his holidays. They were both really nice people and made the trip all the more enjoyable.

The second day was a bit shorter (still all up and down) to a much bigger village over looking the lake and San Pedro -which we walked down to on the 3rd day after getting up early to watch the sun rise over the lake, see the new title picture above (the little writing in the middle of it is from the free software which Chris used to stick 2 photos together).

It has been really nice not having to get up at 7am for Spanish lessons and then having loads of homework each day, I think 4 weeks in one go is quite enough Spanish, we have lots of information, rules and verbs to go away and try and remember now. But we will miss our teachers as they were really nice.

On Friday we met Ted a very spritly 80 year old north American, who works with the rotary club, and comes to Xela for 2 months each year to work with Casa Del Nino (which  translates as ´house of the child´).  Casa Del Nino provides childcare for working mothers, giving them a chance to go out and earn some money, and the children a chance to play, be at school, and have a good meal.  

A lot of money has been donated by the rotary club, and the centre has changed from being poorly equipped with only a few children, to a large bright clean place with clean new cots for the babies to sleep in and a nice clean kitchen and dining room. Ted is down to help with an extension to a building on the side which is rented out, and allows them to nearly be self suffient paying local people to work and teach there, and also set up some cameras to allow communication between here and north America. Chris is going to help set up the network for the cameras and upgrade the computers which they have at the centre. He has also been helping a separate project which gets old and broken computers from north America and mends them for local schools here.

He went out yesterday to a local village where they store the old computers, to get another batch for them to try and sort out, and was quite excited as he got to ride in the back of a pickup truck.

I do not think I will be able to help the Doctor at the centre though. As there is no lab or protocols set up yet. But I should be able to help teaching English. Ted also helps local children with their English when he visits, as they learn English at school but never hear it spoken, so need help with there pronunciation. So on Saturday Chris and I taught an English lesson to a 15yr old girl (while Ted taught her elder sister), I think we did OK as we were not expecting to have to do it on our own, but fortunately our dictionary had a good learn English part which we used. Next time we will go a bit more prepared, and I think there will be more children.    

Early tommorrow morning we are setting of on a 3 day trek to lake Atitlan, (as a treat for doing all those spanish classes) we will trek through and stay in local villages and I think there may be a few mountains on the way. Then I think we will stay at San Pedro, the village that we finish at by lake Atitlan, until Monday as it is suppose to be really nice.

Off too buy supplies now, chewy bars and peanuts! 

its all too much for gemma


Originally uploaded by Chris_Walker

Its cold in the evenings so we have to get in bed to do our homework.. unfortunatley this means that gemma often falls asleep while doing it !

On Friday we will have our last Spanish lesson for the time being (we will have done 4 weeks), but it has been really difficult, we can defiantly understand a lot more but i think it will be a while before we are speaking fluently!!  We just need to spend time trying to remember everything we have been taught now.

Ruth the lady who runs our school has put us in touch with a man who is involved in a school/health center for single mothers and their children here in Xela, and needs help installing some computers and in the laboratory in the health centre. We are going to meet him this weekend to find out more, but it sounds really interesting, and should also be a good way to practice our Spanish. 

Climbed Santa Maria the 3rd highest volcano in Central America!!!

We are having trouble walking up and down steps and slopes at the moment as our legs are very achey.. Yesterday we climbed our second volcanoe, Santa Maria, which at 3,772m the 3rd highest point in Central America, the first is the extinct volcano Tajumulco (4,220m (13,845 ft)) but that is a two day hike that we hope to do soon. Santa maria is the volcano that we can see from our room, and from the top of it we had a view over the whole of Xela, it is so perfectly shape with a very definate point at the top, that when stood at the bottom it looks like you are never going to be able to get to the top of it, but we did. It took us 3hr 15 min walking up a steep track through the pine trees that cover the volcanoe, unfortunatly the clouds had come in bit by the time we got to the top and we could not see the little volcano next to it which has eruptions a couple of times a day. But there is a viewing spot (a very safe distance away) we can walk to next time with out having to go to the top again.

The first volcano we went up was 2 weeks ago, volcano Chicabal, which is extinct and has a large lake in its crater. It was a shorter but very steep walk up to the edge of the crater, from where we walked down in to it and around the lake. The lake was very still and tranquil, and is a very important site for the Mayan people as it is the centre of the mayan cosmovision (mayan universe).