Friday, November 19, 2010

Interlude: San Cristobal, Chiapas back to Panajachel, Guatemala - back to our bikes (October 18 - 26, 2010)

In Posada 5 in San Cristobal: Craig and Jeff with Nico, from Uruguay, who is so proud of his country and its recent World Cup performance that he is travelling around with the flag

a goodbye shot from all of our friends at Posada 5, an amazing collection of French, Argentinians, Mexicans, Americans, and one Uruguayan.

back in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, these guys are loading up the cargo holds on top of the buses.

Our first mission upon returning to Guatemala was to climb the highest peak in Central America, Tajumulco.  The summit is at 4220m, or about 13,850 feet.

We have two ladies with us on this trip, Sonia (Swiss) and Alice (English).  Here on the lower slopes of Tajumulco.

Craig and Jason taking a breather (photo Alice Stafford)

a picnic on sunny grass slopes

Alice gazes dreamily into the sky (photo Alice Stafford)

open pine forest and draping lichens halfway up the climb

Alice, now with mild altitude sickness.  In our campsite at 4000 meters (13,125 feet).

stoking the fire, making mountain punch with rum, cloves, cinnamon, pears and apples (photos courtesy Alice Stafford)
at over 13000 feet, this fire was necessary for warmth

we set out to summit a little after 4 AM; this was the scene at predawn, with the moon about to set beyond Volcán Tacaná (4080 m), which sits astride the Mexico-Guatemala border

sunrise, the chain of volcanoes stretching in the distance

predictably, Volcan de Fuego erupting at dawn in the distance
at the summit, gorgeous sunrise unfolding (photo Alice Stafford)

...more sunrise pics from the summit...

The group together: Jason, Jeff, Alice, Sonia and Craig (photo Alice Stafford)

huddled in the chill wind, early morning

curious potions we found at the summit (empty): to bring you money, clients, and power.  Curiously Guatemalan.

... a game of footbag at nearly 14000 feet...
to Jeff  (photo A. Stafford)

 to Jason

... while Santiaguito erupts on the slopes of  Volcán Santa Maria

about to pack up camp

(photo Alice Stafford)

spectacular weather and scenery for the descent

Jeff with the summit of Tajumulco clear in the background

...the rugged landscapes around Tajumulco (above photo Alice Stafford)...

in Quetzaltenango (Xela), this is the bus terminal/ market area... and a sign which says that this area is free of crime

... the scene at the bus terminal...

heading towards Panajachel now, we were delayed by a landslide:

the men wear elegant patterns in Sololá, near Panajachel

the flooded docks at Santiago de Atitlán, where we have come to attempt a climb of Volcán Atitlán

In Santiago de Atitlán.  campesinos passed one after the other loaded with firewood from the mountain.  At this spot so many people warned us of danger on the volcano, from armed robbers, and of landslides having damaged the trail and made it unnavegable, that we decided to bag our plans and return to Panajachel and start cycling again the following day.

the boat that took us back to Panajachel from Santiago.  Volcán San Pedro (3000 m) in the background.

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