Friday, July 11, 2008

Training in Central America

Miles and I have been enjoying ourselves thoroughly on our journey northwards from Costa Rica through Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, Cuba and finally Mexico. Along the way we have experienced first-hand the beauty and diversity of tropical rainforests in the region as well as getting into training by climbing 4 volcanoes, a couple of waterfalls and other hikes.

Our first volcano experience up Volcano Telica in Nicaragua was a 5 hour climb in light wind and drizzle. As we neared the crater, winds picked up to an incredible speed. As rain started whipping our face we began to consider that this may not be the best place to camp. Upon reaching the crater, our visibility was about 10m, all our possessions were beyond soaked, and the only solution our American friends could come up with was to light up a cigarette. We abandoned all hope of camping in the crater and began to make our decent late afternoon, the pathways had turned to rivers and large trees began to be uprooted. Halfway down a rescue team had been sent to get us as Hurricane Alma had crossed the coast. At this point we were really wishing our guide had checked the weather forecast! Needless to say, we survived the ordeal, and were even more determined to conquer some volcanoes in the future.

The only photo after the Hurricane

Guatemala presented us with 3 further volcano climbs, a beautiful 2 hour climb up active volcano Pacaya where we dipped our walking sticks into running lava.

Brilliant specimen

Stick sacrifices

The next day, Miles and I decided to up the ante and mountain bike up and down Volcan Agua, next to the city of Antigua. A gruelling 1.5 hours of all vertical ascent saw us near the top, which was followed by some hair raising downhill through the rocky paddocks of local corn farmers. Miles and my inexperience shon through as we both managed to flip over handbars on steep downhill portions, luckily unhurt rolling through newly plowed and suprisingly soft cornfields.

Conquering Volcan Agua

A week later I foolishly decided to climb our steepest volcano ¨San Pedro¨ at 6am on a Saturday morning after a few too many beverages the previous night and housing a stomach bug caught a week previously in Antigua. After 3 hours of vertical climb, we had the most beautiful view of 7 towns scattered around lake Atilan. After struggling down again I fell into bed for the next 5 days with a terrible sickness, something a course of antibiotics managed to resolve.

Deliriously sick halfway up San Pedro

The view was worth it from the top of San Pedro

Getting intimate with the rainforest

Rulers of Tikal

Enjoy the photos and please consider donating to our cause! Our adventure begins on the 3rd of August which is only 3 weeks away and we´re only a quarter of the way to our target!

Miles and Benedict


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