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Category Archives: Guatemala

We end where we began?

The beginning

Summing up La Aventura Project in one post has left us here staring at a blank page for weeks now.  The same questions run through our heads: “What did we do?” and, “What did we accomplish?”  The jump back into life in the USA was quick, and we were immediately left with little time outside of work, back to normal US life.  The world we came from was stuck in the backs of our minds, left to dwell in occasional yearnings and stories misunderstood by their listeners.  When I have a street food craving at 11pm there is no friendly woman selling tortillas across the street.  Saddening, but it’s also nice to have a kitchen.

Here is a quick list of answers to some of the more popular questions we have been getting from friends and family:
Yes, they did in fact have electricity in Latin America.
Yes, we got sick a few times from the food.  But it was all delicious and we don’t regret trying everything!
No, we did not notice any drug cartel activity.
No, we don’t plan on settling down now or buying a house or anything like that.

Trying to make a list of our accomplishments sounded corny but I did it anyways to brag a little bit:
Learned Spanish to an intermediate level in which we could have decent conversations.
Traveled to 10 countries without flying.
Got engaged!
Learned much more about Latin American history than we did at school, more than most North Americans know.
Hiked the Inca Trail.
Built our blog into a resource for other travelers.

Regrets:  I wish we could have done more volunteering, but maybe you could say that we were more like scouts, examining the playing field.  We did have two stays at WWOOF farms, one in Colombia and another in Ecuador.  It would be fun to check out some more WWOOF farms in Central America someday.

The travel at first was much easier than I expected.  The roads were paved and the buses as nice as the Megabus that we took in the United States.  But as we entered Bolivia our luck was about the change.  It was there that we experienced transportation strikes and washed out highways.  Bolivia was by far the most “out there” country we visited.

La Aventura Project started as a film project and a longing to escape from it all.  Along the way we wrote more and more and eventually were able to use the website to make the adventure last longer.  We passed through phases of preferring writing over filming and vis-a-versa.  Near the end we really dreaded the thought of returning to the grind of working class society.  Here everyone makes little problems seem like the end of the world.  There there were real problems.

The future: We will continue adding to the website and will be posting hostel reviews by guest writes.  (More info if you are interested.)  Our goal is for the website to grow and continue as we start posting our travel tales from the States.  We’ll be beginning the US section of the website in September when we take a road trip across the northwest in the process of moving to California!  We’re also working hard to edit the documentary and we’ll post updates on that front as it gets done.

Ending where we began: So now we find ourselves in much the same place we were in when the seed of the idea for La Aventura Project began.  Making the most of the US and working hard to save money for future adventures.  Dreaming and trying to decide which continent to conquer next.  Asia?  Africa?  Europe?  South again to finally make it all the way to Patagonia?  We have no idea where we should go, but luckily we have awhile to decide as we work to replenish our bank accounts.  The only sure thing is that we can’t stay here for too long, so una nueva aventura is unquestionably on the horizon.

“There is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” -Christopher McCandless

Chau chicos.

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The Final Superlatives

We’re still working on a big, cleverly and intelligently written sum-up of the whole darn adventure.  It’s hard though!  It is coming soon, but for now enjoy the final edition of our La Aventura Project superlatives!

Days in South and Central America: 217

Dollars Spent: $10,586.14

Average Dollars per day: $70.45

Countries Visited: 10

Books Read: 22 (Carrie), lost track (Zach)

Doctor visits: 1 (Zach), 0 (Carrie)

Things We Lost: More random stuff than we remember

Favorite Food: ceviche (Zach), pupusas (Carrie)

Favorite Beverage: Colombian coffee, Campos de Solana vino tinto from Tarija, Bolivia, and Flor de Caña rum from Nicaragua

Best Wildlife Sighting: dolphins on the cruise from Panamá to Colombia

Nicest People: Colombians and Salvadorans

Most Touristy Countries: Perú and Guatemala

Most American Retirees: Panamá

Scariest/Coolest Experience: the eruption of Tungurahua Volcano

Most Liver Damage: Loki Hostel

Biggest Personal Changes: dreadlocks and eating meat (Carrie), actually speaking a second language (Zach)

Longest Bus Marathon: 3 days almost-straight, Trinidad, Bolivia to Arequipa, Perú

Best Hostel: Hostal Las Olas in Copacabana, Bolivia

Best Place to Open Our Bar Someday: Canoa, Ecuador

Most Sobering Site: civil war museum in Perquín, El Salvador

Most Life-Changing Moment: getting engaged

Sweatiest We’ve Ever Been in Our Lives: Nicaragua

Most Expensive Country/Most Fast Food Places: Costa Rica

Most Breeds of Potatoes: Perú

Best Shopping: Panajachel, Nicaragua

Creepiest Hotel: the Auto Hotel in Sonsonate, El Salvador

Favorite Country in Central America: El Salvador

Favorite Country Overall: Ecuador!!!!!!!!!!!!

Write for La Aventura Project/Stay in hostels for free

A big announcement today, everyone!  Since we are back in the US now, working real jobs again (boo) and editing the documentary, we don’t have as much to post here!  Thus, we are looking for current travelers in South or Central America to write hostel reviews for us and keep our directory growing!  If you are a good writer (in English), good photographer, and would like to stay in hostels and hotels for FREE, please contact us about an opportunity to write for our website.  We will also gladly feature a link to your own personal blog or website on all of your hostel reviews.  Again, we are only looking for travelers currently in South or Central America to review hostels in those regions.  Leave a comment or email us at laaventuraproject AT gmail DOT com if you are interested in more information about this awesome project!

Lago de Atitlán and shopping ’til we drop!

The second half of our too-brief stint in Guatemala took place in Panajachel, the biggest town on the shores of the Lago de Atitlán, Guatemala’s largest crater lake.  The enormous blue expanse, ringed by cloud-topped volcanoes on every side, was impressive.

View from our hostel

There’s no end to boat trips, hikes, kayaking trips, and bike rides you can take from Panajachel (locals call it “Pana”).  There is also an endless street of craft stalls with (allegedly) the cheapest prices in Guatemala.  We took advantage and shopped a lot!

Love all that color!

We definitely didn’t have enough time at Lago de Atitlán!  Next time we’ll have to explore the smaller villages surrounding the lake.  It was a great short visit though!

Jungle rash and the trip’s first visit to the doctor

The morning after hiking in Parque Nacional El Imposible in El Salvador, I woke with a strange burning sensation all over my fingertips.  As the day progressed, my hands got redder and redder and I started having trouble unscrewing water bottle tops and unzipping backpacks.  It started to get so that my hands really hurt every time that I touched anything.  As soon as we got to Antigua, I went and bought some Benadryl and hoped that the antihistamines would knock the problem right out.

In the morning I found my hands to be slightly worse and when I stood, I noticed that my feet hurt horribly.  What was worse, when I walked to the mirror I noticed that the rash had moved to my nose and I looked like a zit-faced teenager.  But, being stubborn, I refused to go to the doctor and just hoped that the medicine I was taking would start to work.  After all, I hadn’t been to see the doctor in about six years!  I probably bragged about it and didn’t knock wood!

By afternoon I was having trouble walking and my hands and face had grown worse.  We went to the pharmacy to get something stronger and the pharmacist suggested we go see the doctor.  So we walked a block to where he recommended we go, to the best English-speaking doctor in Antiqua, Dr. Marco Bocaletti (Address: 3 Avenida Norte, No. 1 Appt. 3).  It was about 6pm on a Friday night, yet the doctor was surprisingly IN.  I waited about 15 minutes and then I was shown into his office.  He looked me over and agreed that my rash was probably from some kind of plant that I touched.  I was prescribed some stronger antihistamines and an antihistamine skin cream.  The doctor spent a lot of time with me and answered all of my questions.  He was way friendlier than my usual doctors in the USA!  The visit cost about $32, payed in cash to the doctor.

My jungle rash. Doesn’t look as bad as it was in photos.

The skin cream felt MAGICAL and by the next morning all the redness was gone.  However, I could tell that the rash had done a lot of damage.  My hand was pretty much senseless, with the most numbness at the finger tips.

After a few days almost all the dots have faded.  All of the callouses on my finger tips are falling off and there is a lot of dead skin in general.  My face is looking almost perfect, but my feet still have some sore spots.  At least once I peel off the dead skin I can feel again!  Note to self: don’t touch anything and just get home!

Hotel Jere in Panajachel, Guatemala

Hotel Jere, located just a few blocks from the shores of the Lago de Atitlán, offers comfortable rooms at economical prices in Panajachel, Guatemala.  The rooms are large with colorful local wall decorations and clean floors.  Each room has a clean, private bathroom and WiFi internet.  From the roof there is a great view of the lake and nearby volcanoes.

One great thing about Hotel Jere is its location.  The lake is only a short walk away and there are good restaurants right out the front door.  Also, Panajachel is a great place to shop, with hundreds of local vendors setting up everyday.  Around Lake Atitlán there are huge amounts of outdoor activities for everyone.  The staff at reception can help set up your tours around the lake or can arrange shuttles to take you to other major tourist attractions in the region.

Whether staying a day or a week, Hotel Jere is a great place base your adventure.  The rooms are especially great for budget travelers, as you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Services:

WiFi

Private bathrooms

Hot water

Parking

Tourist information and booking

Bike rental

Address: Calle Rancho Grande, 150 meters from the public beach

Website:  www.hoteljere.com

Email: info@hoteljere.com

Prices (low season/high season):

Single – $9/$11

Double – $14/$16

Triple – $20/$22

This post was sponsored by Hotel Jere.

The sicko’s tour of Antigua

As you may recall from Zach’s last entry, he was feeling pretty sickish during our time in Parque Nacional El Imposible.  Unfortunately, the day after our epic hike, I woke up with the same bug, and he woke up with the beginnings of a mysterious rash on his hands and feet.  So we were definitely in fine form upon arrival in Antigua, the beginning of our brief stint in Guatemala.

The afternoon we pulled in, I did nothing but lie in bed and feel miserable.  What a lame-o.  The next morning I pulled myself together enough to walk around a tiny bit and take some uninspired picture of the old city.

I think the Spanish really liked the color yellow.

The Cathedral

Every time we went into a church we had to sit down inside to rest.  This picture characterizes how we were feeling:

Blech.

Fortunately by the end of the day I was starting to feel much better.  Not so much for Zach.  His rash had spread to his face and was getting worse.  Stay tuned for his story of how we ended our Antigua visit…