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Central America

a travel blog by Jason Kester

This was my first attempt at a non-climbing vacation. I had hoped to make up for it with a lot of surfing and diving, and I brought along the rock shoes just in case. As it turned out, this trip came as close as I've ever made it to real tourism. I rode busses from town to town, saw sights, took pictures, and otherwise acted just like every other backpacker down there.
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Re: Have fun

Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

Just a quick note to let you know that I made if to Guatemala ok. I managed to catch a bad cold before I left, and it has followed me here. I've just been resting the last couple days, and seem to be getting better.

This is a great place to relax though. I'm in the town of Antigua, up in the mountains. It's all cobblestone streets and Mayan vendors selling scarves and blankets. The architecture is really neat. The buildings are very plain on the outside, just stone walls with wooden doors. Inside though, it opens up into big gardened courtyards.

Hopefully, I'll be ready to travel by tomorrow. I think El Salvador is the next destination.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on January 25, 2002 from Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
from the travel blog: Central America
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Livin' Large in the Third World

La Libertad, El Salvador

So after a few days holed up in Guatemala, I made it down to El Salvador, and am currently hanging out in La Libertad. This place is pretty cool, and it's definitely not been discovered by the tourist industry yet. I've seen six European faces in the two days we've been here. This is a pretty rough town. You don't really get to walk the streets after dark unless you're a local. (especially last night, since the USA just beat the Salvadoran soccer team, and the locals were not taking it well!)

We headed up the coast a ways today to check out the surf. I guess the waves had been great the few days before we showed up, but not so much today or yesterday. We managed to find our way onto a nice deserted stretch of black sand beach to try to make some headway on a suntan. Definitely a lot nicer than the trash strewn beach back in town.

Anyway, if the surf doesn't pick up tomorrow, we'll probably head back inland for a while. Maybe into Honduras to check out the ruins at Copan.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on January 28, 2002 from La Libertad, El Salvador
from the travel blog: Central America
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I totally claim Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in the name of Wassailry!

Copan, Honduras

Listen up, Ace. We're in Copan Ruinas now, kicking it at the Posada Honduras. That's the first place on the left as you get into town. Let us know what day & what time you're likely to arrive, and we'll have a frosty Port Royal waiting for you in the courtyard.

It is all good here. Bust ass!

permalink written by  Jason Kester on January 30, 2002 from Copan, Honduras
from the travel blog: Central America
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Throw me the idol, I throw you the whip!

West End, Honduras

What up y'alls?

So I skipped out of El Salvador without riding a single wave. The surf just never materialized, and the town never got any more charming. Two full days in decommissioned Midwestern school busses put me over the border into Honduras on to Copan Ruinas.

Copan. What can I say? It's spectacular. I can see why people dedicate their whole lives to this sort of thing. I'm sure my pictures won't do the place justice.

I'm now on Roatan, trying to get in a few dives and a suntan. Everybody here speaks English. I feel like I'm cheating.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on February 4, 2002 from West End, Honduras
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Latin Life

West End, Honduras

Been diving.

Been diving lots in fact. Been down to 37 meters, squeezed into caves, Poked fish and been bitten by them. Picked up enough of a tan to make all the co-workers jealous. Time to head back to the mainland.

Belize is the next stop, en route to the Guatemalan highlands and possibly into Mexico for a few days and a few ruins.

In short, it's all good and it's not yet half over.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on February 10, 2002 from West End, Honduras
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still alive

Flores, Guatemala

So I've accumulated another half dozen passport stamps since the last report. I'm back in Guatemala now, speaking broken Spanish and climbing Mayan temples. Spent a day at Tikal, looking up at big ruins, and looking down from on top of them. Wow. I'm gonna be an archeologist when I grow up.

My tan is starting to fade, so I think the next stop is the beach. A Couple friends are flying into Belize tomorrow, so it's off to Placencia to meet them.

Belize is pretty much a rookie destination. Everything is just a little too easy for the third world. People speak English, Taxi rates are posted, busses run on time and take you where they said they would go. It's hard to adjust to. I'll need to get back out before I get used to it.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on February 16, 2002 from Flores, Guatemala
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the local bus

Dangriga, Belize

Lots has happened since last I wrote, but I'm not going to talk about that just yet. First, you all need to learn more about the joy that is third world travel. I'll recount the story of my bus ride from Flores, Guatemala to the Belize border.

So we hop on this bus at the station. You can tell that it started its career in some San Antonio school district circa 1964. Certainly was taken out of service long before I hit grade school. it's not too crowded, meaning that there is one seat left with only two people on it. I take this one and hang out for roughly an hour while locals pile on and the bus idles in the sun.
It's 87 degrees outside, and a man is standing in the front of the bus selling some sort of miracle cure at full volume.

Once enough people are aboard that nobody can move anymore, the bus starts moving. It stops a few more times to cram more folks aboard, then one last time so that a guy in a pickup truck can throw a bunch of mail packages in the windows and fill up any additional space.

We continue to pick up passengers along the way, sometimes stopping twice in 50 feet. After about half an hour, I give up my seat to a woman, her baby, her son, and their chicken. I'll be standing for the rest of the trip, 2 more hours to the border. The bus is packed tight enough now that I can no longer fall over. I even manage to fall asleep standing up for a while. Then the pavement ends.

2 1/2 hours, 60 miles, $1.25. In short, a pretty typical bus ride down here. It usually takes about three of them to get from one place to the next.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on February 22, 2002 from Dangriga, Belize
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off the map

Livingston, Guatemala

It just got good.

We (just myself and Zack these days) worked our way to the little village of Lanquin, Guatemala. Way off the beaten track, but definitely worth the 3 hours on bad dirt roads from Coban. This place is amazing, complete with waterfalls and cascading pools, caves that go back for 3km, and even some untapped climbing potential.

We blew 3 days there, in a grass hut in a cow pasture, intending to head back to Coban and then bus it down to El Estor and onward to Livingston on the coast. But then, we heard about the secret back way.

Apparently, people had, in the past, come into town from the other direction over a series of unmaintained roads that weren't on any of the maps we had along. Others had left town for El Estor that way, with apparent success. No details were available though, as none of them ever came back. We're there!

First stop was Cahabon, a town remote enough that the sight of westerners is still novel enough to draw stares, pointing, and laughter. We stayed there for a day, and set the alarm for 2:45.

At 3:30am, we hit the road for what was possibly the most interesting travel day of my life. The locals head out for work at 4 in a series of 2 ton farm trucks. We hopped on the one that looked like it was heading the farthest out of town, and rode it as far as it would go.

The next several hours were spent alternately sitting by the side of the road in remote Guatemalan jungle, and standing inside or on the bumper of small pickups with up to 30 people in the bed. Eventually we hit the highway (also a dirt road, but straighter), and found a ride to El Estor.

28 Hours, 5 rides (one in a truck full of guys with shotguns), 50 miles, $2.50 not including room and board in Cahabon.

I'm in Livingston now, enjoying the Caribbean sun for one last day before heading back to Guatemala city and home.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on March 2, 2002 from Livingston, Guatemala
from the travel blog: Central America
tagged CertainDeath, HitchHiking, Adventure and BFE

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Jason Kester Jason Kester
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Hey! I wrote Blogabond so I guess that makes me your host. Welcome!

I spend about 9 months a year on the road, chasing the sun around the world in search of good climbing and surfing. I carry a laptop along with me, and take on small programming contracts to take care of expenses.

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