Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer Catchup #1: Camping




Okay, so I'm 6 months behind on this blog. It's really more of a summer, traveling thing for me anyway! One of my weekend adventures over the summer was meeting friends Chris & Rene and camping near Marble, CO. We also visited some roadside hot springs! Since they live in Grand Junction, it was a perfect middle meeting spot, and a great weekend of camping, food, and general hanging
out.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Glendo, here we come!




Our next little weekend adventure took us to Glendo, Wyoming, where Toni's aunt has a beautiful cabin! We spent 2 days playing in the water, waterskiing, eating, and drinking. An extra treat for Toni was seeing his cousin, who is home (for good!) from serving in Iraq. I met a whole new branch of his huge family. Another bonus was that although we brought all our camping stuff, the cabin had plenty of room for all to sleep indoors!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What the HAIL?

I've heard that Colorado is the Hail Capital of the World. My totaled car agrees-but that was a storm several years ago. This one was strange because it came out of nowhere at about 10pm. My side of town wasn't hit nearly as bad as many of my friends to the north. Note that any pictures taken during the day are what was left of the hail after almost 20 hours of daylight! My porch and front of the house night of the storm:




















Some of the damage the next day:



























What things looked like on the north end of town, at my friend Dustin's house (Yes, that's the INSIDE of his screen door):

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Back in Colorado...for a day or two!


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In the weekends following my return to Colorado, I was in Lake McConaughy, NE; Glendo Reservoir, Wyoming; camping in CO, Omaha, NE, and Estes Park for a weekend. So here are a few pictures of the many weekend jaunts! First, Lake McConaughy, where I did not take many pictures, but had a great weekend camping with Toni's family. After hanging out on the main beach for most of the day, we took the 4runner four-wheeling to find a quieter spot. With such a loooong lake it wasn't too hard! Lucy had a great time tagging along and playin in the water!

The next day we drove out to some tiny town where Toni's family used to live and own a farm. It was really. really. hot!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Last Stop: Yaxha






After touring Tikal, our guide offered us (the French-Canadian couple and I) another tour the following day for a lesser known/visited ruin called Yaxha (Yash-ah). So, once again, off we went! There were much fewer people and many, many ruins. And monkeys and a really big grasshopper. There were stairs to the top of some of the larger ruins, to test our fear of heights and stamina in the humidity! After an action packed day, I took the hour-flight back to Guatemala City, to fly home, sweet home, early the next morning.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fancy Digs




After a homestay and hostel, this was a pretty high-end place. Of course, since Tikal is world-renowned, it was also overpriced. But, there are only 3 hotels IN the park, so it was worth it. It is also the only place I stayed with a mosquito net (which was pretty fun!) but there didn't seem to be too many of the little buggers there.

Side note: it is a given that everything can be bargained for, but I didn't know it applied to hotels! I sent several emails to several places to make reservations. This place quoted one price, thinking there would be two of me, but when I replied that their SINGLE rate was too much, they emailed me with a counter-offer! Woohoo!

Wildlife of Tikal

You haven't lived until you have heard howler monkeys.

Hearing howler monkeys in the daytime is eerie enough. Being awoken from a sound sleep at 3:00 a.m. is something different entirely.

That being said, here are some pics of the animals I was able to actually SEE in Tikal. Monkeys are not that easy to photograph.

I credit this little guy to my mosquito-free room.









Spider monkey.






















According to my dad this is some kind of really special and rare turkey. Who knew?

Up to Tikal






So after Semuc Champey, I took another 7ish hour van ride south...only to fly north again the next day! Instead of returning to Antigua, I got dropped off in Guatemala City and took a cab to a hostel with free airport shuttle service (yay!). The next morning I was off to the airport at something like 430am, for the hour long flight to Tikal. Perhaps because of its' proximity to Mexico, this is the only place I had to fill out a questionaire about swine flu.

Once again, it was a non-stop couple of days! I was picked up at the airport by a guide and taken to the hotel, where we soon set off on a tour of Tikal. We being a French-Canadian couple, myself, and our guide. The amazing thing about the park is how enormous it is. I logged 20,000 steps that day and STILL didn't see everything!

One of the great things about Guatemala (and all of Central & South America) is that you can pretty much do what you want, because they aren't worried about getting sued all the time. So, you can climb to the top of pyramids and around on many of the ruins. There just aren't many rules. This was kind of neat, because the view from the top of a pyramid is very different from the view at the bottom!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Goodbye, Antigua

Antigua is overly touristy, beautiful, has great (if rainy) weather, and is completely unlike the rest of Guatemala. Here are some pictures.

Semuc Champey

Very suddenly, I realized that my remaining days in Guatemala were limited, and there were still several things I wanted to see! In part, thanks to a fellow traveler from Germany, I found a travel joint in town to arrange a weekend tour of Semuc Champey-known as the most beautiful place in Guatemala!




The drive there was quite an adventure...about 7 hours of bumpy roads and TORRENTIAL rain. We finally arrived in a small village and our hostel for the night. The next day was wild! We went up to Semuc Champey on the back of a truck, which was pretty much like a moving party! Then we hiked up to the overlook and down to the pools, swam in the blissfully cool water, saw waterfall after waterfall as each pool cascaded into the next, went swimming in a cave, and tubing down a river! Unfortunately, the ride back into town was not nearly as fun as the ride up: the rain had started again, making the dirt road extremely muddy. Our truck got stuck several times. Never mind the fact that we jumped in straight from the river so most of us were only wearing swimsuits! It was an hour-long crowded ride, and I was so glad to get back!

After that night (HOT shower and sleep) we spent much of the next day back in the van on the way back to Guatemala City. We had a nice stop for lunch and a hike looking for the famed Quetzal (the bird, not the money!) with no luck. It was a busy weekend!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Schoolin'

Originally, I was hoping to spend 3-4 weeks in intensive Spanish classes, but it just didn't work out that way (the sailing trip got in the way! Ha!). But I did spend one week going to classes.

The Spanish school:

They hosted activities every day-this was "happy hour!"









I actually beat my Spanish teacher at Scrabble (Pensable)-only due to the word "juez"-which means judge. Big points there!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

At home in Antigua





Okay, in my continuing effort to get caught up so I can actually update things that happened recently...I am OFF THE BOAT! Upon my return to Antigua (after yet another arduous 6 hour van trip) I hooked up with Miriam, a local who hosts students-but only if they've been referred by Romelia, who you will remember from several posts back.

After the last couple of weeks, it was SO nice to be able to unpack my bag and stay in one place for awhile! Here are some pics of my room, and the street it was on.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Skies





Okay, at first glance one of these pictures does not belong. However, those beautiful skies led way to a rather violent storm. This caused Paul and Lisa to urgently refresh their beverages before retreating to their cabin under the deck!