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The adventures of Fe & Chris

Archive for June, 2007


Whilst enjoying a quiet rest in our happy little house in San Marcos La Laguna the foundations shook. It was quite a noisy thing, went on for a good 20 seconds or so, and it would have spilled your soup, should your bowl have been full.

Fiona rapidly pondered what one is supposed to do during an earthquake - only when all became quiet did she remember we should hide under a table.

 We didn’t have a table.

A few points…

We have finally managed to get our act togather and some photos on the blog - there is a new page (to your right) with a few photos to prove we´re really somewhere exotic. Some of the olkd posts (and new) have also been added to, so please have a quick look!

Another thing is that our mobile phones are not finding reception in Guatemala so we are not getting any of the lovely text messages you may have been sending us. Sorry about that!

Oh, and just to let you all know, the corrections for my PhD have been accepted, so I have now (almost) officially finished! Yippee!

Fe´s affinity with animals

During heavy rainfall yesterday morning a cat befriended us and our sheltered shack. Here it is escaping Fe´s attentions, before it settled on my lap for the duration:Cat & Fe

Love, peace and hippy-hating

The place we are currently staying, San Marcos La Laguna, is lovely. However, it seems to be a hangout for yoga, meditation, massage types and people who have been ‘travelling’ perhaps a bit too long. Whilst we are enjoying the relaxed atmosphere and lack of traffic, for some reason that we can´t quite put our finger on, we can´t find much tolerance for the hippy types that are hanging around. Perhaps it is because they appear to serve little purpose in life? Perhaps they arn´t in touch with reality? Will we end up like that after nine months of travelling?

Oh, the other thing we have noticed is that the locals seem to be a little worse for wear in late morning/early afternoon - they can be found asleep on the verges of the road. We´re not sure if this is alcohol or some other form of drug -related inebrience, it is all a bit odd (as are some of the plants we keep finding along our wanderings…).

Our holiday on holiday

We´re in the village of San Marcos La Laguna, on the shores of Lake Atitlán.

The Manual describes it as having decidedly tranquil appeal – there´s little in the way of partying and no bar scene at all - perfect for our needs, so we embarked upon a launch across the lake with all haste. The boat was an 8m fibreglass affair with bench seats and a 115hp Suzuki engine. (Forgive me for being pass remakable, but the skipper´s boat driving displayed an extraordinary lack of skill - he botched 3 of 4 jetty approaches during our journey and almost put the boat on the beach once.)

Against the odds we survived the journey and are happily ensconsed in a pleasingly rustic shack amongst luxuriant vegetation, only disturbed by the sound of an occasional avocado crashing to the ground or when the local church decides to broadcast its message by the medium of the loudspeaker.

This is our shack…

Our wee housie

Woodstars, monkeys & transparent butterflies

Panajachel is a curious place, perhaps more like I´d imagine the tourist-tat parts of Thailand to be. It´s an easy place to be though, and we stayed a couple of nights to visit a nearby nature reserve.

The forest was wonderfully luxuriant despite being a former shade-grown coffee grove. Many Indiana Jones-esque bridges across the valley allowed spectacular views of the forest. Many beautiful butterflies fluttered around - we´ve no book, so we´ve no idea what they are. Fe´s favourite has transparent wings, but I prefer a black number with red and yellow patches.

The highlight of the day for me was a Sparkling-tailed Woodstar - a spectacularly beautiful hummingbird that hovers horizontally, rather than vertically. Spider monkeys caused excitement, however their special status was rapidly demoted when it became apparent that they were rather tame, indeed they were former pets released to the ‘wild’.

The jungle

Luxury transportation

On Friday afternoon, after our last Spanish class, we ran away from Xela to Panajachel on Lake Atitlan. We splurged a little on a posh shuttle bus as time was somewhat tight, and the prospect of battling our way to and through the chaotic bus terminal was unappealing.

An air conditioned minibus picked us up from our house and drove us to our new residence in comfort. Indeed pleasant company was supplied in the form of Kate & Jeremy from Perth, WA - normal people, or at least, our kind of people. So far all the other gringos we have met have been rather overly keen young college students from the US (pleasant enough, but not the sort of people you´d choose to spend an evening with).

So the journey passed quickly and comfortably with easy conversation and just a mild smattering of nonsense. This luxury cost us an extra premium of four pounds over the chicken bus.

Bed bugs and broken sinks

We haven’t really said much about our week learning Spanish and living with a family. This is because it was more of a chore than fun it must be said. Our family was very nice and friendly - the two daughters were chatty enough and seemed to be able to speak some form of Spanish we could understand. The mother´s main purpose in life seemed to be to cook for us all, which she did manage well (although we are off eggs for the next week since we had them at least once a day, every day!). She also seemed to have an amazing ability to make even the simplest attempt at conversation more complicated than required. But never mind she was lovely nonetheless.

So now to the title of my post. Yes, we did indeed get bedbugs - Chris suffered more than me, and from our very small survey of other affected (namely our pals from our shuttle bus), the bugs do seem to prefer males. We seem to have come through the ordeal relatively unscathed you´ll be relieved to know!

And the broken sink? Hmm, well that was my fault - after a wander up the dusty hill in my lovely new sandals, I needed to wash my feet, but didn´t want to have to use the shower, so I balanced on the sink (very proud of my flexibility that allowed this manouvre!) the sink then crashed to the floor spilling water and breaking the outlet pipe (the sink and the floor tiles survived thankfully). The rest of the family were out so we spent a while trying to fix the mess and find mops etc, to no avail. I then had to confess my deed in broken Spanish to the mother - oh dear! She took it very well, although I was so upset I guess she had to! I guess she was quite intrigued as to how I´d actually achived such a thing, but I decided to keep that to myself! I had to pay to get it fixed and it also meant we had no shower for the rest of our time there (for some weird reason the tap runs when the shower comes on…).

Anyway, it was all an experience!

The oldest church in Central America

Our Spanish school lays on some vaguely organised activities to keep us entertained in the afternoons. During a wonderfully sunny afternoon we stayed in and watched a film called El Norte. The following day we went to visit what is reputed to be the oldest church in Central America in a town called Salcajá. Unfortunately it rained remarkably hard and God wasn´t at home - the door was locked and the church hasn´t been used for years. It isn´t a very pretty church: it looks like it has been liberally plastered with concrete sometime between now and 1400. It does have some amusing comedy lions and bananas above the door though.

We steamed on the chicken bus home. All very soggy. Next time we´ll attempt to add some photos for your viewing pleasure.

Oldest Church in Central America?

Feeding Fiona to the vultures

We frequently see great towers of Black and Turkey vultures circling above the hills around Xela. During one of our recent sojourns out of town Fiona was lying still and prone as she photographed a pretty plant at ground level. Meanwhile, higher up, I watched a Turkey vulture fly towards her, checking out her corpse status. Unfortunately she finished her photography, got up and the vulture lost interest. Rather a shame, as it could have resulted in a wonderful photo.


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