Monday, August 22, 2011

Antigua, Rio Dulce and Livingston, Guatemala 9-18 Aug 2011

Antigua 9-13 Aug 2011

Finally left San Pedro La Laguna, my heaven for 3 weeks. :-( It is difficult to let go something so beautiful and move on to a future that is unknown. It’s like quitting my job in Singapore and leave for this trip. You never know what is awaiting you next.

We made it to Antigua after another day of delay due to some unforeseen circumstances. Eric, Noa and I went back to Umma Gumma Hostel in Antigua. We like this place when we first stayed here 3 weeks ago. This hostel is quiet and clean, staffs are friendly, and they have WIFI and kitchen at the roof top garden.

We all have our things to do here, Noa has to find out how she is getting to Nicaragua, Eric has to find out how to get to Tikal and me, I was waiting for Santiago to arrive :-) someone special that I met in San Pedro, and he is coming to Antigua. Noa finally got her research done, she was very worried to take this trip to Managua, Nicaragua. She has listed down a few options and either way it is going to be an 18 hours trip.

The next day, Eric and I went hiking to Volcan Pacaya. Noa has been there before so she didn’t join.  On May 27, 2010, Volcan Pacaya erupted, followed by several tremors. At least 3 people were killed in the eruption, two villagers and a journalist who tried to approach the crater and was hit by bombs. According to newspapers, at least 9 children are missing, more than 20 people injured and thousands fled their homes or were evacuated. Many buildings were damaged.
Volcan Pacaya is an hour car ride from Antigua. We arrived at the foot of the volcan and started walking up the mountain with a guide and 30 other people and some on horses. The horses serve as a taxi for those who can’t walk up, they took the same route as us, as you can imagine all the horses shit along the path, we were literally looking at where to put our next step the whole way up. We spent 1.5 hours walking up the slope, we were not allowed to climb up to the crater, and we stopped at the lava flow area. From there we had the view of the 3 other volcanoes in vicinity. Volcan de Agua, Volcan de Acatenango and Volcan de Fuego. We were lucky to have a clear day, the view is magnificent. We can see Volcan de Fuego puffing out smoke every other minute. Way down was easy.

While back to the city, people are more in a rush. I missed the smile from the local and greetings from everyone on the street. I missed the view of the lake and the noise from Filipe kids. :-( I have to find something else to do. So I went for a Salsa class trial out with Eric. Eric was pretty stiff but he learns fast. I was hooked immediately, I decided to sign up for 3 classes. One to one, 1 hour per class @ Q80. It was great! I relearn a lot of the steps and new steps.

Rio Dulce and Livingstone 13-18 Aug 2011

It took me 6 hours to reach Rio Dulce by bus. I met Audrey from America who is also heading to Rio Dulce. She is a nurse who quit her job and now travelling for 2 years. Eric has made his way to Rio Dulce as well after Flores. 3 of us stayed at Hotel Backpackers by the river side. It was cheap but the bed do not have pillow or blanket. At the hostel, we met John from Ireland. There is nothing much to do in Rio Dulce, we ventured into the town across the bridge and had our dinner. We left the next day to Livingston. We have to take the boat package to Livingston which includes a drive by the El Castilo de San Felipe, a village with lots of water lily and a hot spring area. It was a rip off! :-(

 At Livingston, we checked into Iguana Hostel. A place recommended by the lonely planet and other travelers. We were welcomed by the owner Rusty. He explained us that there is a communal dinner at the hostel every night @ Q40, wireless and TV is available till 9pm at night, that is because he prefer everyone to socialize and drink in his bar, instead of watching TV and surf net, Jungle boat trip available run by Eric @ Q200 for a day trip with all you can drink and lunch on board, they have tap system in the hostel which means you pay at the end of the day when you check out. We were quiet happy with the dorm we get, it seems nice. The communal dinner was good too. BBQ chicken with red bean rice and salad. The party goes on and on, music was loud. I went back to sleep at 9pm after a drink and the nightmare begins. I was literally attacked by hundreds of mosquitoes, too hot to sleep I took a shower to cool down and sprayed myself with loads of repellent, but that didn’t stop the mosquitoes from attacking.  I woke up the next morning with little sleep to find the rest of them had the same problem as well. I was shocked to see Audrey as she had a lot of red spots on one side of her face. Eric who was too drunk to feel the bites has it all over his shoulders. Those bites look more like sand flies bite to me. Lucky me I didn’t have any. It was horrifying. Audrey and I changed to another hotel immediately the next day. The 2 guys change their dorm. I doubt that will help much. I was glad I moved. We moved to Hotel Maya with private bath and mosquito screen on the windows. It only cost us Q35 pp/pn. There have internet and kitchen.

The weather here is so hot and humid comparing to San Pedro and Antigua. It is just like back home. We sweat just by walking out from a shower. :-( We walked around the town of Livingstone and find nothing interesting, here there are mix of Garífuna, Afro-Caribbean, Maya and Ladino people. We reach the point on the other side of the jetty, the beach is not very impressive and the water is dark grey in color. None of us feel like jumping in for a swim. We spoke to a guy who told us that he walked to the nearby waterfall along the beach. It took him 2 hours. So we had that planned for the next day.

We started our walk 10:30am along the beach and it was disgusting. There was tons of rubbish washed out on to the shore. We pass some houses and resorts, I would not have enjoy my stay here at any of this resort with a beach like that. We finally arrived at the waterfall at noon. Exhausted! It was a pretty small waterfall with 7 layers of fall according to the name Los Siete Altares. We chilled in the pool of cool water, had some shrimps pedicure and chips. :-)  Time to head back, we walked another 2 hours of course. :-( I don’t feel my foot anymore when we arrived.

I stayed another day in Livingstone doing nothing just to rest my legs.  I had to find out how to get to La Ceiba, Honduras the coastal town where I can get a boat to Roatan. The package with shutter cost US$40 with minimum 6 to go, since there isn’t anyone else going I will have to go on my own. The entire journey includes a boat ride and change of 4 different buses. It is going to be challenging!

Antigua – Umma Gumma I ( – Q40 pp/pn for 5 bed dormitory with shared bathroom with hot shower WIFI available and communal kitchen.
Rio Dulce – Hotel Backpackers( – Q30 pp/pn for 20 bed dormitory with shared bathroom without pillow and blanket, WIFI available.
Livingstone – Casa de la Iguana – Q40 pp/pn for 6 bed dormitory with shared bathroom, WIFI available till 9pm, Hotel Maya – Q35 for private room with attached bathroom WIFI available.

Antigua to Guatemala City to Rio Dulce – Q150 by shutter and bus
Rio Dulce to Livingstone – Q140 by boat with drive thru a few places
Livingston to Puerto Barrios – Q20 by ferry

Volcan Pacaya tour – Q70 for transfer and Q50 for park fees
Salsa Class – Q240 for 3 classes 1 hour each


  1. hi can you please tell me the specific location of you in the first photo by the lake alone with what looks like volcano or mountain in back...

  2. Hi there,
    That is at Laguna Verde, Salar the Uyuni