International News/Politics Journal Tours

Belize Cayes to Antigua to Lago de Atitlán to Volcán Pacaya

Zapotilla Cayes, Belize

Zapotilla Cayes, Belize

To round off our time in the Caribbean we took a day trip snorkelling around the Cayes of Belize. If you ever got the chance to do this I thoroughly recommend it. Crystal turquoise waters, white sand, beautiful fish and what’s more, whale sharks. Unfortunately, the island we stopped on also had some vicious sand flies so I returned to Antigua with a golden tan but covered in red welts.

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Lake Atitlan

And with our impending departure from Guatemala to Nicaragua we sped up to the Lago de Atitlan on Tuesday for one night only. So stunning it is that everyone said could not leave without seeing it, including my friend Angie who honeymooned there. They weren’t lying; I don’t usually like to use the over used ‘breathtaking’ but it is. Huge green mountains descend dramatically into the lake, with the Volcán de Attilan towering over the 12 small villages (representing the 12 apostles) around the lake. We stayed in Santa Cruz de la Laguna, a much smaller village than that of San Pedro de la Laguna, famed as being the party/smokers’ town. La Iguana Perdida was an excellent place to stay: just off the dock with views over the lake and set in well-looked after jungle gardens is has a relaxing, family atmosphere (everyone is invited to sit down to dinner together every evening); there are activities such as yoga, diving, learning Spanish on offer and from there you can walk around the lake to the other villages, such as San Marcos.

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Bubble bubble toil and trouble - Pacaya volcano

Plus, Wednesday we climbed the Pacaya Volcano to 2300 meters and stood only a few feet from molten red lava and melted marshmallows in the heat. It was an organised trip and the guides looked after us vigilantly but I am sure if this volcano were in Europe or the States we would not have been allowed to get so close that we watched the lava flow moving right by our feet. Dangerous, maybe, but an awesome experience.

Tomorrow we leave this beautiful country. We’ve had two months here, travelled across about 2/3 of it and there are still some areas I sad we will miss out on (Tikal and Semuc Champey, for example). Guatemala has its problems, namely corruption and greed among the country’s elite which has led to 50% of Guatemala’s wealth being owned by only 10% of the population; at least 75% live below the poverty line. This in turn forces some people struggling to make any sort of living to turn to crime and making Guatemala  not as safe as it should. However, and this is important, the vast majority of Guatemalans are welcoming people, proud of their country and ready to show you their rich culture and history. Hopefully we’ll be back here one day, to one of Central America’s most awe-inspiring and friendly nations.

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