Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pacaya Volcano and Semuc Champey!

Hola amigos! We are in the small, but touristy town of Flores today, on our way to explore the amazing Mayan ruins of Tikal tomorrow. It has been an amazing journey and a lovely honeymoon, atypical as it is! Since I wrote last, we had one more day in San Marcos and I was able to attend a morning yoga class at Las Pyramides Yoga and Meditation Center. All of the bungalows and the studio are pyramids and the practice space was an amazing, sacred wooden pyramid, mostly full of students there for the month-long moon course. The Mayan woman who owns the place teaches metaphysical classes during the day, but I didn´t get to meet her. It was great to move my body consciously after being bed-ridden for a good 24 hours! It was a gentle, spiritually conscious practice that was lovely!

Then, we packed up our bags, ate watermelon by the dock and took a boat back to Panajachel. After a 2 hour wait, easily filled with browsing, we bussed to Antigua. The roads here are as intense as the terrain. Very steep and windy! The next afternoon, we went to the Pacaya Volcano, which was absolutely amazing! The hike was a lovely uphill crawl into the misty mountains with children on horses offering "Taxi!" With a complete lack of concern for lawsuits, they let everyone walk directly up to the flowing lava. We were walking right over it and staring into the mouth of the dragon, barely able to handle the heat and keeping our feet moving so our Keens didn´t melt! I have never seen lava flowing before and it was absolutely magnificent! The mountain has a sweet feminine strength that felt very clean and clear. It is constanly cleansed with a gentle wind and soft mist, yet it is so immensly powerful! We were in awe and so grateful to experience her majesty!

The next day, we embarked upon the long journey north to the sacred pools of Semuc Champey. Again, it was an unbelievable sight! We borrowed a Rough Guide to Guatemala travel book before we left, only to realize on our trip that it was published in 2002...alot has changed! Luckily, one of the things that have changed is the fact that there is a hostel 50 yards from the national park. We hopped off one bus, just in time to be solicited for El Portal Hostel and we are so glad our timing was on. Most people have to come in with a travel group for the day from the neighboring village of Lanquin. They traveled as a herd, got their faces painted like warriors with a local plant and had to leave several hours before dark. We got to watch the young Guatemalans dance after dinner, wake up with the sun, walk into the park just as they opened and enjoy the pools to ourselves for hours before others arrived. We walked out as they all walked in and ended up strolling across the bridge to check out the San Marias Caves. Unbelievable again! We looked at the sign, which listed the daily tours at 8 am and 1 pm, then looked at the clock...1 pm, perfecto! The young Mayan villager gave us each a lit candle and turned on his head lamp as we entered the cave. Stalagmite formations, bats, swimming while holding the candle above water, climbing up ladders and ropes...Indiana Jones style! Michael and I kept smiling at each other and laughing because it was so cool!

We headed back to the crystal blue pools of Semuc Champey for the evening. We were passing everyone coming back out for the day, including a worker who warned us of jaguars and tigers with a smile. We couldn´t tell if he was joking or not! As we climbed the millions of steps up to El Mirador (the lookout at the top of the cliff), we heard an animal scream and I was sure it was a jaguar! I was already headed back down the hill when I realized I was leaving my new hubby in the dust and he was still listening...monkeys! Big, black monkeys, hanging from their tails and stuffing their faces with green leaves. Did you know that we share 99.7% of the same genes as chimpanzees and their diet is 40% greens? We watched them through our binolculars for quite some time and the one remained really vocal. We decided to stay an extra night, as the long travel days are exhausting and this place was really something special. Back at the hostel, we were surrounded by plantations of corn, cardamom, coffee and cacao trees! We had little girls offering us fresh made chocolate morning and night! I recognized the cacao plants on the way in and asked about them. A few minutes later, a young boy returned with his machete and a big cacao pod for sale for 5 quetzales (about 75 cents)! We ate the fresh, raw beans right from the pod and realized we felt slightly altered...in a beautiful, present moment sort of way. We had seen signs in San Marcos for Chocolate Journey Work...eat chocolate, get high, go deep. I have always heard that it was a heart opening plant and definitely experienced that gentle sensation as well. So, we ate a lot of chocolate and bought 2 pods for the road...we´re saving one for the temples of Tikal!

Today was eight hours of careening mini buses topped with slick travel agencies trying to earn their commissions. It can be overwhelming...the heat, the dirty lake, the aggressive vendors, but we have our 1st planned reservation of the trip...we are staying at a hotel at the ruins tomorrow night, have return bus tickets the next day and then a tree house awaiting us at Finca Ixobel the next 2 nights! I guess it is a farm, so they serve an abundance of fresh grown food, bake their own bread and there is swimming in the pond, hammock chilling and cave tours. Nice!

I have not stayed all raw this trip, but I´m not worried about it. I am just trying
to keep my body happy and make the best choices I can given the circumstances. We are eating away at out bag of raw goodies (dehydrated pumpkin seeds, almonds, buckwheat groats) and those are so nice to have with us. There is still an abundance of mangos, pineapple and watermelon, some salads and some beans and homemade corn tortillas. I will continue to eat my alomst completely raw diet when I return, but when diarreah strikes, salad in a 3rd world country doesn´t always sound so good! My tummy is feeling stable and happy again, Hallelujah!

Sending you Peace, Love and Gratitude!! Kelly Ordway

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