Antigua and the Pacaya Volcano

Antigua Travel Blog

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Me at the Black Cat Hostel - top bunk. Maree's beneath.

Having arrived safely in Antigua, checking in to the Black Cat Hostel and wondering around town for the rest of the afternoon, an early night was needed on day one.  We woke to an included breakfast that could keep you going until almost dinner!  Breakfast burrito is all I'll say... except for the fact that is what I ate on day two... day one was scrambled eggs, toast, plantain, refried beans, avocado, tomato... very very filling! After breakfast we contemplated what to do as the sky was grey and threatening rain... today was the day for Pacaya - the live volcano... or was it?  No... unfortunately we agreed that it was too overcast for a volcano hike.

So instead we started by walking around town and taking photos of some of the old ruined cathedrals, until we stumbled across one that was attached to a building that had been modernised on the inside and was housing a local photography show.

One of the photos displayed outside the photography show.
  Unfortunately I donĀ“t speak Spanish so I can't actually tell you what it was about - but some of the photos were very interesting and thought provoking.  At the back of the building was a lovely garden that we took a wonder around.  Strangely they were installing three coloured large bean sculptures in to the main grass area.

Our next destination was the local market to find Al a new hat, Maree new sun glasses and Jules to fix his watch -  none of which we ended up achieving!  The market was typically haphazard housing local wares and lots of cheap junk.  With the sun beating down on us we decided to find a cool drink, ducking in to this cute little cafe where I got a lemonade with soda - with enough sugar to rot your teeth right there and then.

Maree, Al and Jules

While we were at the cafe the rain came down, but that didn't stop us (myself and Maree) from a spot of shopping!  Just a couple of little things, some magnets of local ladies - handcrafted, a little money purse to hide in my cloths, another travel purse and the coolest wooden puzzle!  It's a carved owl and when you take it part it has two secret drawers inside. I love owls and wood!

In the evening we met up with Lindsay - a girl who caught a cab with us from Guatemala City to Antigua.  We headed to Loco Mono (Crazy Monkey) for cheap drinks (ladies night - 3 Quetzales) and munchies.  Loco Mono was very touristic and the music they were playing could have been in any bar anywhere, so after a short while we left and walked Lindsay back to her hostel.

Me
On the way we decided to duck in to her local bar - Cafe Nose, which was small, had local karaoke and a much better vibe despite it being a bit quiet.  Lindsay knew most of the staff there, so we ended up chatting to the one of the barmen who told us about "Bo" the bar's original owner.  Essentially Bo enjoyed the bar life until he passed - partying with the best of them.  In tribute to Bo the bar has a paper mache model of Bo for people to pay their respects, you can either light a cigarette and put it in his mouth or leave him a scotch (which I'm sure someone would sneak off with).

The day of Pacaya... our first mission was to move hostels! Why?  Well Jules got bed bug bites... but hectically so, all down the one side of his back - so Jules was definitely moving and we were all a bit grossed out and not willing to risk them jumping across to our bunks.

The Jungle Party Hostel
  So we moved over to the Jungle Party Hostel, which was really cool with hammocks in the main area and nice size dorm rooms.  Our next mission was to find a half day tour to the Pacaya Volcano.  After missioning around town we ended up booking the tour from Jungle Party, and were picked up at 2pm by our transfer.

The drive to Pacaya took a little over an hour along windy mountain roads, and I'm pleased to say that I suffered from no motion sickness!  I didn't even take tablets.  Anyway, you get off the bus and are accosted by several little Guatemalan boys with walking sticks that they're trying to sell to you.  Based on Maree's passed experiences I decided it was a good idea.  Off we set... all up hill!  Within minutes I was huffing and puffing my way up the volcano with sweat dripping down my back, red faced and my glasses kept fogging up from the heat.

Me starting on the lava rock...
  It was tough going, but at least I didn't attempt it with a hangover!  One girl did and ended up puking off the side of a horse... shame!  Anyway it was 2 hours up, and when you hit the black lava rock things got more difficult, slippery and precarious.  As you moved up the volcano towards the actual lava you could start to feel the heat radiating from below the surface - at one point it was uncomfortably warm with the metal press-studs rolled up in my pants starting to heat up against my legs.  I only had one minor accident, slipping and getting my foot stuck in the lava rock, to which Al had to free me as I couldn't dislodge it.  Unfortunately Maree (aka calamity Jane) was doing fairly well at avoiding injury until a girl dislodged a rock that then scrapped down her leg.
Maree braaing a Marshmallow.

At the top we took photos and roasted marshmallows on the heat of the molten lava.  We watched the lava against the sun setting and then headed back down in the dusk, moving in to the dark.  Hiking in the dark is interesting, walking with a head torch strapped to your forehead only being able to see a few short feet in front of you - in some ways it's a bit scary in other ways a relief i.e. when a big moth flew in to my face (I have a major irrational phobia of moths).  I never saw it coming, I never saw it's horrible features and I never saw it fly off!

We made it back down and got back in to our transfer who drove like a crazy man all the way back to the Jungle Party Hostel.  That night... just a few quiet drinks at the hostel... ladies night again (5 Quetzales) - getting in to the ol Cuba Libre (i.e. rum and coke).

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Me at the Black Cat Hostel - top b…
Me at the Black Cat Hostel - top …
One of the photos displayed outsid…
One of the photos displayed outsi…
Maree, Al and Jules
Maree, Al and Jules
Me
Me
The Jungle Party Hostel
The Jungle Party Hostel
Me starting on the lava rock...
Me starting on the lava rock...
Maree braaing a Marshmallow.
Maree braaing a Marshmallow.
A cute little bookshop - I really …
A cute little bookshop - I really…
Same book shop.
Same book shop.
Some of the beautiful architecture…
Some of the beautiful architectur…
Same building.
Same building.
Al and Jules across the road.
Al and Jules across the road.
Another building - maintained.
Another building - maintained.
A building on the square housing b…
A building on the square housing …
The local market.
The local market.
A shot of one of the roads.
A shot of one of the roads.
The cafe where we stopped for a co…
The cafe where we stopped for a c…
Our drinks - mine is at the front …
Our drinks - mine is at the front…
Me and Maree
Me and Maree
Al adding up who owes who what, mu…
Al adding up who owes who what, m…
The ruined church next to the art …
The ruined church next to the art…
Maree & me outside the church.
Maree & me outside the church.
The building housing the photograp…
The building housing the photogra…
Same building.
Same building.
The building housing the photograp…
The building housing the photogra…
Photography show.
Photography show.
Photography show.
Photography show.
Photography show.
Photography show.
Photography show.
Photography show.
Photography show.
Photography show.
Photography show.
Photography show.
Photography show.
Photography show.
Photography show.
Photography show.
The gardens behind the photography…
The gardens behind the photograph…
The gardens behind the photography…
The gardens behind the photograph…
The gardens behind the photography…
The gardens behind the photograph…
A flower close up.
A flower close up.
A flower close up.
A flower close up.
Me in the gardens behind the photo…
Me in the gardens behind the phot…
A flower that reminded me of South…
A flower that reminded me of Sout…
Outside the photography show.
Outside the photography show.
Watching the rain bucket down.
Watching the rain bucket down.
A car with lots of post it notes o…
A car with lots of post it notes …
The Black Cat Hostel.
The Black Cat Hostel.
Me looking through my Guatemala Gu…
Me looking through my Guatemala G…
Me with my burrito at the Black Ca…
Me with my burrito at the Black C…
Burrito close up.
Burrito close up.
Burrito close up again.
Burrito close up again.
Leaving Black Cat Hostel.  Maree s…
Leaving Black Cat Hostel. Maree …
Leaving Black Cat Hostel - me.
Leaving Black Cat Hostel - me.
Scenic picutre of a street in Anti…
Scenic picutre of a street in Ant…
Another building in Antigua.
Another building in Antigua.
Our transfer to the Pacaya Volcano.
Our transfer to the Pacaya Volcano.
On route to Pacaya.
On route to Pacaya.
En route to Pacaya.
En route to Pacaya.
En route to Pacaya.
En route to Pacaya.
Al in the foreground - walking sti…
Al in the foreground - walking st…
Me before we head up the volcano.
Me before we head up the volcano.
Hiking up Pacaya.
Hiking up Pacaya.
Hiking up Pacaya.
Hiking up Pacaya.
Hiking up Pacaya.
Hiking up Pacaya.
The group coming up Pacaya.
The group coming up Pacaya.
Radio towers on the side of a live…
Radio towers on the side of a liv…
Views on Pacaya.
Views on Pacaya.
View of Pacaya.
View of Pacaya.
Pit stop on Pacaya... water... 
J…
Pit stop on Pacaya... water... …
Pacaya - first site of lava!
Pacaya - first site of lava!
Me with Pacaya in the background.
Me with Pacaya in the background.
Me... Pacaya
Me... Pacaya
Almost at the lava...
Almost at the lava...
Note: Explosion Normal.
Note: "Explosion Normal".
Pacaya
Pacaya
Sun shining through the clouds.
Sun shining through the clouds.
Walking up to the lava.
Walking up to the lava.
Made it to the lava!
Made it to the lava!
Lava close up.
Lava close up.
Going higher up Pacaya.
Going higher up Pacaya.
Pacaya
Pacaya
Jules and me on Pacaya.
Jules and me on Pacaya.
Lava on Pacaya.
Lava on Pacaya.
Views from Pacaya.
Views from Pacaya.
Views from Pacaya.
Views from Pacaya.
Hot lava crevice...
Hot lava crevice...
Lava close up.
Lava close up.
Lava sunset.
Lava sunset.
Lava on Pacaya
Lava on Pacaya
Me on Pacaya...
Me on Pacaya...
Sunset from Pacaya.
Sunset from Pacaya.
Lava on Pacaya.
Lava on Pacaya.
Close up of Lava in the dark.
Close up of Lava in the dark.
Antigua
photo by: monky