Archive for November, 2009

Climbing a Lava Field

Author: Kyle

La Muela
On Mayan sacred ground, only a few miles from Xela city is some great rock climbing opportunities ranging from 5.8 to 5.13 climbs in an area called La Muela up passed the Almolonga Valley.  At the peek is a strange but beautiful landscape of cooled lava with amazing views of the city.

I went with a group called Quetzaltrekkers which is a non-profit volunteer organization that is designed to be a self-sustaining fund-raising program for Escuela de la Calle, a school for street children in Quetzaltenango(Xela), Guatemala.  They are also now supporting the clinic Primeros Pasos, a medical clinic located in the outskirts of Xela which provides vital health care and educational programs to the local community as well as schools and organizations in Xela.

Me Climbing

Being a beginner climber and not having climbed in a while really showed as I worked on the accent.  My hands were shaking as I reached the peak, and was unable to do a second climb.  The view was magnificent and we all had a great time.

Lava FieldWhen we had all had some good attempts at the cliff face and enjoyed lunch we headed down to the natural steam saunas of Los Vahos where we enjoyed a couple hours alternating between relaxing natural saunas and cool afternoon air.  I’ll be working on my strength so I can do better next time.

You have a schedule?  Aren’t you on vacation?  You are a gringo in Guatemala after all.

As I arrived in Xela, Guatemala, I knew I was going to be the odd one out.  I had a plan after all.  First vacation, then rebuild my life from the ground up.  I sat down in a coffee shop  with a pad of paper and wrote down these words from memory by Annie Dillard:

A schedule defends from chaos and whim.”

Followed by:


Physical – Exercise 4+ times per week

Business – Work for 2 hours a day on income producing ventures

Learning – Study Spanish for 2 hours a day

Social – Go out for at least 3 hours a day to meet local people

Personal – Write in personal blog for 1 hour twice a week, and business blog at least 1 hour per week

Financial – Check finances 1 hour per week

Planning – Plan for tomorrow for 1 hour every day

Eat – 3 square meals per day

Sleep – 8 hours every night

Reward – 1 exciting or interesting trip or experience per week

Interesting, eh?  Then I went into Google Calendar and built a plan around these priorities.  At times it has been hard to stick to the plan, but it has generally been quite rewarding.  I have gotten quite a bit done, and have had time to enjoy the local culture.  One area that caught me off guard was the local custom of setting off firecrackers at 6:30 am to wake up their loved ones who are celebrating a birthday. In a city this size that is every day.  Naturally this is followed up by loud music for a couple hours, ensuring that no one around can possibly get back to sleep.  It has taken a while, but I have adjusted my schedule for earlier nights and earlier mornings because of this.

An upside about spending an hour every day planning for tomorrow means that I get more done in the day or hours provided and that the quality of that work is superior.  The Pareto Principle and Parkinson’s Law working so well together 🙂

Go Slow

Author: Kyle

Caye Caulker - Go SlowThis part of my journey has been purely about slowing down in this speed obsessed world.  No pressure mon!

Tulum Beach

Once all my papers were in order and bank accounts restored I headed down to Tulum, Mexico via Valladolid.

Tulum has beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear waters that are just made to look that much more exquisite by the  ancient Mayan temples in the background.  Here I spent a few days soaking up sun and piña coladas.  It’s a hard life, luckily no sun burn 🙂

From there me and a few travel companions headed south to Belize with the goal of going straight to Caye Caulker.  Instead the bus arrived late to pick us up, and had many long stops along the way and arrived half an hour later then the last water taxi to the islands.  With our late arrival in Belize City and having heard nothing but horror stories about the city we quickly got ourselves to a hostel.  Now given the state of Belize City tourism and the general apprehension even the most experienced travelers had about even going in the first place to Belize City you would think that the prices for the hostel would be less then American prices, but such was not the case and we shelled out more then our fair share for the beds.  The city itself was pretty nice, though the poverty was quite apparent.  We went out for a traditional Belizian dinner and enjoyed a bit of their nightlife.  Country karaoke anyone?

Ragga Queen

First thing in the morning we had breakfast and took an early water taxi to Caye Caulker.  The moment I saw it, I loved it.  The first thing I noticed was that there were no paved roads, only white sand roads.  The only cars were those of the police and if you really felt the need to motor around you could take golf cart style taxis to get from one side of the island to the other.  Prices were back to normal and the people were friendly.  As soon as I checked into the hostel I found my way to Raggamuffin Tours where I got the last spot on a snorkeling sailboat out to the barrier reef.   I wish I had an underwater camera with me.  I saw fish of all sorts of amazing variety, pet a nurse shark and a sting ray, free dove to see in underwater caves, and witnessed endangered turtles in a marine reserve swimming around.  Breathtaking and beautiful.

Nurse SharkSlightly tipsy from the rum-punch they served on our way back I went out for dinner.  Later me and a few friends went to a bar/restaurant called Herbal Tribe where we had a few drinks and talked with some amazing local characters.  I had a long philosophical discussion with a gentleman called ManDingo, a self proclaimed prophet and generally interesting person.  I look forward to seeing him again.

Herbal Tribe ProphetI spent the next day just lounging and exploring the island and left the next day for Flores, Guatemala.

Bridge To Flores

Flores is a small town on an island in a lake surrounded by Santa Elena a town of slightly larger population.  It is about an hour from the famous Mayan ruins of Tikal.  I explored the island, had some down time and visited the ruins.

Tikal TempleWhat set these ruins apart was the jungle backdrop.  With howler and spider monkeys around as well as birds of all types, crocodiles and other fun wildlife chasing after me.

This guy was chasing me.Also just the sheer area that the multiple ruins covered.  It was certainly an impressive site.

So now I am in Quetzaltenango(aka Xela), Guatemala for the next month to focus on language learning and business.  So probably less excitement and relaxing and more self development stuff for the next little while.