Humboldt wasn't mistaken. The calm waters of the Atitlan lake adorned with majestic volcanoes promise an exceptional emotional trip. On its banks, the inspiration-seeking artists find again their muse and the too-hurried travelers freeze for a couple of days to recharge their batteries. I sit down on the dirty pebble beach and look at the wavelets which ripple on the surface of the lake. I make ricochet some stones and my eyes get lost in the distance following the refined outline of the Toliman, Atitlan and San Pedro volcanoes. I intensively live my last Guatemalan place because I'm leaving tomorrow to Panama and an only-3-day stop. I had planned to stay longer over there but the northern part of Central American brought me so many sensory treasures that I stayed there and postponed my visit to Panama and Costa Rica for a next trip.
Guatemala is a fantastic country. Despite an obsessive fear roaming around the insecurity of its cities and remote lands, the encounter of its extremely kind and hospitable people leaves a deep mark on me and some indelible prints in my memory.
On the boat that links the coastal villages of the lake, I make the acquaintance of two Guatemalans. This kind of encounter you can't take a picture of, you can't precisely relate but you fully live. What could be better to summarize a marvelous sojourn where the good humour of the verbal exchanges stands out on a fabulously beautiful scenery.
Keyword - retinian burnt -
Friday 12 December 2008
Tuesday 9 December 2008
At first sight, the name of the Pacaya volcano doesn't make us think about something awesome and seems insignificant besides the prestigious Stromboli, Etna, Kilauea or Krakatau. Unfortunately for the latter, the safety laws of the countries prevent the average visitor to get to the bedside of the molten magma. Some people will shout for foolhardiness but with the Pacaya, we can go to the lava up to get the skin burned. The outing starts in a minivan, departure from Antigua up to the entrance of the park. We get off the shuttle for a short trek which goes through a sparse forest and opens out onto a lookout where the dark cone of the mount Agua shatters the horizon line. The grass rarefies and big volcanic grains pile up on the access side of the volcano. Following the example of a sand dune, our feet sink, the ascent gets harder and the balance begins staggering. We step on the still-hot flow of the previous day. Some translucent filaments extend the glistening- and purplish-hued rock. The heat increases up to become unbearable. The lava flows at a few meters away. A magmatic torrent gets out of the volcano and goes dying at its feet. According to the draught, the atrocious heat burns our faces. Natural sauna session before heading back into the more refreshing atmosphere of Antigua.
A red façade replaced with a yellow section before turning pastel blue. The streets of Antigua revive the thoughts tarnished by the tasteless streets of Guatemala city. The whole historic center of Antigua is on the Unesco World Heritage List. The division into blocks, typical to the cities of the “New World”, don't infringe, but the painters gave the finishing touches to the streets. And the result attracts, encourages to the consumption of covering another block to watch what happens at the next corner. An invigorating urban stroll.
Monday 24 November 2008
Divers of all over the world rush to the Yucatan for a little bit special immersion. And so do I, I gave in to temptation, the weird universe of the cave diving. Here, no fish, no corals, no current, but a couple of stalagmites and stalactites, flabbergasting plays of light, a visibility that can reach 100m and a Dantean impression of navigating in another world. For my introductory dives, I booked an intensive day with the discovery of 3 cenotes, Dos Ojos, Calavera and Grand Cenote. An inebriating selection: Dos Ojos for its subaquatic rocky outgrowths and the rays of the sun which in places hit this submerged cathedral, Calavera for its green waters and haloclines and Grand Cenote for its half-moon shape. Before diving, we get strict instructions about the safety. We go into the water and fitted with a lamp we start kicking alongside an Ariadne's thread. The feeling of breathing underground and wandering about among an almost complete darkness make me shiver with joy. We play with the stalactites surrounded by a heavy silent that only the noise of our bubbles tear. At the end of the Dos Ojos cave, a hole lets the rays of a soft and saving light gush out; the divers of another group seem to hover in the middle of this luminous halo. Exhilaration of gliding in this unreal world. Time goes too fast and we are already at half-dive, we go astern and kick towards the entrance. We get off, the smile clung to our lips and not totally recovered from our underground experience.
The other dives will complete the emotional patchwork of these aquatic peregrinations.
Halfway between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, another cenote attracts the fans or neo-enthusiasts of these underground aquatic networks. The cenote Chacmool offers the most beautiful plays of light and to that, we'll have the unforgettable opportunity to split the dive into two by surfacing into a grottoe. We take off our masks and regulators to contemplate this exclusive cavity. We are the pioneers in front of their discovery. Filled with pleasure, we swim on the surface, we observe the different stalactites and the roots of several trees which seep through the rock to come and draw the nourishing liquid. It's time to leave our find and kick back towards the land with the same sensation of not being completely here when we finish the dive, the mind drifting at several meters underwater.
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