Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Guatemala and Quetzal Trekking

I was inspired to meet up with Shar for a six day trek with Quetzal Trekkers. Quetzal Trekkers is a non profit group that gives all it's profits to a local school. All of the guides and staff are volunteer so all of the money goes to the locals.

I arrived in Guatemala City and stayed at Posada Belen. This place touts itself as a museum and inn, but few if any of the pieces viewable were labeled. It lead me to believe that it was somebody's personal collection. If artifacts are removed from their location then a lot of information is lost. Plus it was overpriced.

Anyway, hopped the earliest Pullman Bus for Xela (Quetzaltenago), which is a step up from the chicken busses, but not much. I fell asleep and missed the stop for Xela. When the bus attendant and everybody surrounding us found out they really had a good time laughing at me. They left me on the side of the road with my leopard skin rolly bag on top of this mountain an hour past Xela. Crap!! Caught the next mini bus to Xela. The driver, wife and kids felt bad for me so they took me directly to my hotel all for about 15 Quetzals, which is about two dollars and some Toblerone chocolate. And they thought they were ripping me off, HA! It was duty-free chocolate.

I stayed at Casa Argentina. It's not as pretty as the picture in the link but it was clean and I didn't get fleas. Quetzaltrekkers is located in Casa Argentina so that night we had an introductory meeting, paid and then they handed out gear. They provide everything; sleeping bags, backpacks, pads, even rain coats. The only problem I had was my sleeping bag didn't completely close up around my head. If you are really picky about your gear then you should bring it with you.

Two of the days were spent riding chicken busses and four of the days were spent trekking. One of the days we took a fifteen minute bus ride and then hitched a ride for twenty minutes. First night we stayed at a one room hostel place. We asked the lady if she gets many visitors besides Quetzaltrekkers and she said "Yes we had four people come through." The second night we stayed at an old school house and left the teachers with some school supplies. The third night we spent at a family's house and the fourth night we stayed at a hostel in Todos Santos.

One of the highlights of the trip was seeing indian villages where there aren't any cars or western influences. I also enjoyed getting out and hiking for four days. I was a little worried about being in shape, but I was fine. Philip, one of the other trekkers was not in shape, but he deserves his own blog posting.... soon. And another highlight for me was the thermascals, which are homemade indian saunas. Imagine yourself sitting or laying naked on a slab of wood and it's totally pitch black about the size of a closet. It's hot and somebody pours steams on something and then it's steamy. Pure bliss for the achy muscles. I kept wanting to say Pura Vida, but we weren't in Costa Rica.

Well I have posted about 75 photos all with descriptions. I hope you have a look.

See also Clint's pictures with a digital SLR camera. His pictures are really good.


chucknoblet said...

wow. those are some of the best pics yet.

Roberta Robles said...

Thanks Dave, glad you liked them. Unfortunately my camera broke on the third day of hiking. Luckily we swapped files and I got to choose between 3-400 hundred pictures to post.

chucknoblet said...

the Nabaj church is an amazing picture. the wet... the fountain...the composition. well done - the one after it out the window is great also. you's folks must be havin the time of your life.