Walkabout: Travel Life and Photographs


February 12th, 2007 (Andy)

Ahh…well it’s been a while. The site was down for a bit due to a web hosting problem. Most of the site is back now, and I’m hoping the host will be able to retrieve the rest shortly.

A little over a week ago we said goodbye to Nadya. She headed to Florida to catch up with her boyfriend on vacation for two weeks. Before she left she was hoping to return back to Antigua for another 3 weeks, but unfortunately today Rach received an email from her saying it was not possible to get a seat on another flight back to Germany from Guatemala until March. She will be added to the list of people that we have already met, but will definitely be missed and hopefully will see again in the future (Nadya, if you are reading this, Guatemala Reunion in 2008, be there!).

Pictured is Nadya, Elsa, their host mom, and Rachel.

Last weekend we set out on a strenuous, 8 hour hike to the top of Volcano Acatenango. Following, Paul, our guide from Luxemburg we climbed up with bamboo hiking sticks in hand next to 3 people from Belgium, 1 from the Netherlands, and a father with his teenage sons from the States. The hike took us through a cloud rain forest, a pine forest, and lastly a desolate ‘moon’ setting. The ‘spooky’ part of the hike, as our guide liked to say,  was that there are no animals on the volcano. And that’s what the name, Acatenango means, ‘the place of nothing’. Acatenango is a sleeping volcano, which could erupt again at any moment. So we thought it would be best to setup camp right in the crater of the volcano. I mean seriously, if it’s gonna happen I don ’t want to be taken out by some lava rock flying through the air. Oh no, I want to be sucked up right at the heart of the action and expelled wit h everything else. Anyway, nothing like that happened. Instead we toasted with wine during the sunset and spent a very cold and uncomfortable night under thousands upon thousands of stars. Other moments we spent in shrouded mist next to our guide who was cooking dinner, and the rest between hail and rain. It was not ideal since we could not see Fuego, an active volcano, sitting next to Acatenango, but memorable nonetheless. In the morning everything was gone except for a sheet of ice covering our tents and a nice view of Fuego and other surrounding areas. We left the volcano in a hurry by running down the entire mountain and sliding through the loose rock and spree in only 2 hours.

Work is going well. Rachel’s inventory of the books is coming along in the library, which is also helping increase her Guatemalan history and Spanish vocab. For better or worse, the last 60 years of Guatemalan history were pretty grim with war and violence towards the indigenous people. She wants to get to the point where she can teach the current librarians how to catalog books and use the excel program to continue to inventory the library after she leaves.

I’ve been doing odd jobs here and there. I installed 8 computers in a small library in a town called El Tejar along the Pan American Highway, setup 2 computers for a school, and another 6 for a school in Xela. Most of these computers came as donations for an affiliate company in Switzerland, and have sat for the past year in a DHL storehouse because the Guatemalan Government wanted $2,000 bucks in import taxes. The same thing has happened with other donations like books as well. =/

In school Rachel changed teachers last week because her previous one had a tendency to go off on tangents, if you will. Like spend an hour talking about ghost stories, or her favorite TV programs rather than maybe…Oh, I dunno teaching the Present Tense of Spanish. Her new one is much better. I have stuck with my teacher. Today we began the Future Tense of Spanish and she started talking to me like a normal Guatemalan. Meaning she talks much faster, doesn’t clearly pronounce every word and makes them all run together. I feel as though I’ve been sent back to the starting line.

Pictured above is our little, yellow tents inside the crater.