Monday, November 17, 2008

From Caldera to Caldera

Finally, a blog update after almost two weeks! So this one’s a bit long...
We’re at Lake Coatepeque in El Salvador now, and a lot’s been happening since Lake Atitlán, where on the second day we met the entire Kaqchikel family whose kids were watching me slope-fly the day before. They spontaneously invited us to their home at Buena Vista “up in the hills.”
We really wanted to do this, but for many reasons, it was better for everyone to have dinner at our campsite. We shared a very special evening together, and it was hard to say good bye the next day (and we thought we were done with good byes for a while).
Friday, we drove on to Antigua, from where we posted the previous update. This is a touristy town with narrow, uneven, cobble-stoned streets, and many interesting church ruins, which had been left mostly as they fell during the big earthquake about 30 years ago.
Antigua has no “official” RV camping. Coming from an adjacent town, we had no idea we had already blundered into Antigua on this busy Friday afternoon, when we saw a City Police station and parked to ask where the Tourism Police yard was; we had heard one can camp there.
Long story short, we got a City Police escort to the Tourism Police yard. These tourism cops really are welcoming! They told us we could camp for free and offered us the use of their toilets and showers; we ended up staying two nights.
On Sunday morning, we skirted around Guatemala City to the flying field of Club ACME south of town. We got there using the detailed instructions and maps of Fernando Escobar, with whom we had been in touch by e-mail, and who visited with us Saturday night in Antigua. We felt a really warm welcome from the club members, and Fernando gave us a free city tour (the first time I didn’t need to drive in over 5 weeks!). Fernando also let us use his internet connection, and we parked in front of his family’s apartment for the night.
There was only one “problem:” All these ACME guys (especially the German ex-pat Klaus Wagner) convinced us to visit the Maya ruins of Tikal! Marcela had wanted to go all along, but I had been dragging my feet because of the long detour, yet did an about-face and decided to drive there; what’s another measly 600 miles (round trip) when you’ve come 5000 already...
So, last Monday (one week ago) we said good bye to Fernando and family and headed toward Tikal. We drove to Rio Dulce and stayed at Bruno’s hotel; this is a nice facility right on the water of Lake Isabal which can handle a couple small RVs.
Tuesday, we drove to Tikal, got there before noon, and spent most of the afternoon traipsin’ through the jungle and amidst the ruins. I have to say, this is a spectacular sight and site: about 3000 years ago, maybe earlier, the Maya built an impressive city covering over 6 square miles. Today, Tikal is a world heritage site.
We were very sweaty when we returned to our campsite at the Jungle Lodge (Klaus Wagner gave us this referral, thank you!) to wash up. About 4PM, the resident howler monkey male roared his arrival in his territory; we were able to spot him in the trees, before he moved on only to return 12 hour later. Also around were a family of Coatimundi with their long tails up in the air and a group of brightly-iridescent wild turkeys.
A little later, we hiked back to climb Temple IV, where we watched the sun set on one side and the nearly full moon rise on the other. We wandered back out through the ruins by moon light, a special evening in the jungle.
Wednesday, I drove 300 miles from Tikal almost to the border of El Salvador. Because of the generally good roads, we made it to Diana Paola’s “Comedor” at Aldea Padre Miguel by 4 PM. We got ourselves settled in, organized the documents for next day’s border crossing, ate excellent barbecued pork, and went to bed fat and happy.
Crossing the border into El Salvador at Anguiatu on Thursday took 1.5 hours. We proceeded straight to Santa Ana, where Mario Alvarez was waiting for us at his office. Mario is the first slope pilot we meet on our trip, and one of four in all of El Salvador. Mario also owns a lake house where we’re at now, and we arrived here in the late afternoon after accidentally taking an extremely steep and bumpy short cut down into the Coatepeque caldera, because I didn’t follow Mario’s instructions properly.
We’re grateful to Mario and the caretakers Leti and Chito to let us use the lake house to relax and clean up and work on the overdue blog and emails. Saturday, we went slope’n with all four El Salvadoran slope pilots in the hills above Santa Tecla. Today, we’ll tour Mario’s coffee farm and tomorrow, we’re off toward Honduras, where Emilio Canahuati and the Club de Aeromodelismo de Tegucigalpa Honduras are planning a weekend of flying and camping with us near Honduras’ capital Tegucigalpa. If we have internet access there, we’ll post an update from there.


Andrés Peñaloza C. said...

Hola amigos.

Que bueno saber de Ustedes... me alegra mucho, ya estaba preocupado por no saber del paso por Guatemala y la llegada a el salvador.

Un abrazo...

Andrés- desde Guadalajara

Marcela and Dieter, ShredAir said...

Hola Andres,

Ya estamos en Tegucigalpa. Gracias a la invitación y atención de Emilio Canahuati, piloto aqui en Honduras, estamos listos para pasar e fin de semana con el club de aeromodelismo volando y acampando en su campo de vuelo.

Ya les contaremos mas el lunes.

Marcela y Dieter

Anonymous said...

Ah hanging out with the slopers again ... and looks like a decent site, everyone flying homebuilts, or some familiar designs??
And despite the jog sounds like Tikal worth the visit.... amazing how similar that pyramid temple is to one we visited in Thailand, guess there are only some many things you can do with a pyramid....
and was interesting to hear the Guatemalean word of nispero... does suggest a common import of colonial period.... too bad not fruiting but maybe find it again in Colombia..... pretty tasty...

We did get some good rain and booming south wind here last week but the snow levels in the Cascades only a couple inches... no skiing so far....
good slopes on the economic front though... think some folks having crow for Thanksgiving....
despues Jim