Wednesday
Feb122014

Volunteer Blog: Robin Green

Utila, also known as paradise, was incredible! The gorgeous beaches, the laid back island vibe and the sea filled with so many new creatures... I didn't want to say goodbye! Scuba diving surpassed my expectations. It's a whole other world under the water... and we got to experience it! From your first time breathing underwater, to seeing all the unique coral, having schools of fish swim by and even seeing a giant southern stingray, it was amazing! We went on four dives, all in different locations, so we were able to see a variety of the marine life surrounding the Bay Islands. Our instructors were great in helping us master our skills but also to point out as much marine life as they could; parrot fish, trumpet fish, sea cucumber, to name a few.  Utila also had more to offer the just scuba diving! We lounged at the beach, played beach volleyball, drank smoothies (atleast one a day to feed our addictions), checked out the local night life and earned ourselves some shirts! At the beaches we swam, worked on our tans, watched the pelicans try and catch their lunch, collected shells, and found a few hermit crabs along the way. After a week on the island, we unfortunately had to head out and continue our journey.


After a busy day of travelling, which included a ferry and a bus, we made it to the capital city, Tegucigalpa. We took a cab to the hotel, to discover it was full, so off to another hotel. We found a nice one to settle into for the night. When we went out to find some dinner, we discovered we were in China town. So we made the obvious decision; we ate Chinese food for dinner... in Honduras. The next day, we woke up well before the sun was out to go get our bus to León. We took a bus to the border, crossed into Nicaragua, and then another two buses until we reached León.
We hopped on one of the bicycle rickshaws to get to the hostel. It was a tight squeeze with three of us and all our bags, but we managed. We checked into the Chilli inn, then went to look for some food. We headed down to the main square, where we found a festival. There was live music, dancing and even fire works, and all the locals were out to enjoy it. After finding some awesome vegetarian street food for dinner, we found some seats and watched all the festivities. When the fireworks went off to end the performances we wandered about a little longer and headed back to the Hostel. Later in the evening we found a local sports bar and watched the Olympics. I was very pleased to see how well my country was doing!

We woke up to very warm weather in León, luckily our hostel had a pool to cool of in. We headed down to the travel agency to book our volcano boarding for that afternoon, and then went over to a local restaurant for breakfast. We enjoyed some nice fresh fruit and fresh juices. After reviewing the map, we decided to check out the revolution museum. It was a small museum about Nicaragua's civil war and revolution. We had a wonderful guide to teach is everything from his first hand knowledge. He even brought us on to the roof top to point out different areas in the city, and the surrounding volcanoes. We had a quick bite to eat at the market, then headed out to volcano. We started by hiking up the side of the volcano. The higher we got, the stronger the wind got. By the time we reached the top we could lean into the wind without falling! The view was gorgeous though, all the surrounding volcanoes and landscape. As we approached the crater, there was a porcupine sitting on the top of the volcano! He wasn't moving, just trying to stay on the ground against the powerful wind. We took some pictures of the porcupine, and the crater,and then it was time to gear up. We got our knee and elbow pads on, our giant green and yellow suits, our goggles and gloves and prepared for our decent. All prepared to go very fast, we hopped on our boards and moved a couple feet before stopping. It was a lot harder than it looked.after many stop and starts I was able to pick up a little speed. We reached the bottom coveted in volcanic rock, I mean ears, nose, hair, you name it. We packed up our gear and headed back to the bus. Our guided rewarded us with some fresh bananas and mandarins. We finished the day with some street food for dinner, and headed out to some local bars. The next morning we were of to Granada. We packed up our stuff and grabbed a taxi to the bus station. Luckily it was a fairly short trip to Granada.

Upon arriving in the main square, we made our way to our hostel. It was gorgeous, definitely one of the nicest hostels we stayed in. We went to explore the city a little bit to find some lunch, but it was extremely hot, so after eating we retreated back indoors. After cooling down and lounging around for a while, we went to the market to look for some dinner ingredients. Instead of it being really hot out, it began to pour rain. It was a nice break from the heat, but we also got soaked. We picked up some fresh vegetables and fruits some pasta. That evening we cooked up a lovely meal for ourselves and finished with fresh pineapple for desert. Yum!

The next morning we started our day with a nice pancake breakfast provided by the hostel. We decided to go to the Masaya market to do a little shopping. We hopped on a local bus and headed to the market. The market was primarily a local market full of fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, breads and other baked goods. There was a small section of hand crafted goods were we could pick up some souvenirs. We grabbed an ice cream to go and hopped back on the bus back to Granada. Coming back around lunch time, we headed out to grab some food... and a smoothie! It wasn't longbefore the rain started to pour again, so we headed back to the hostel and had a relaxing afternoon of reading. We ended our day with a nice meal. We found a very nice pizza restaurant for dinner in the main square. We all tried different kinds of freshly made pizza, very tasty!

By Robin Green, trail volunteer

Find out more about the Central America Ethical Adventure Trail.

Wednesday
Feb052014

Voluneer Blog: Robin Green

Well after our adventures in Antigua, it was off to San Pedro la Laguna! It was a very bumpy ride though winding hills, but it was worth it as we drove into the village and saw beautiful Lake Atitlán and the surrounding volcanoes! After making our rounds around the village, scoping out the perfect hostel, we found it... and it was full, so plan B; another quiet hostel with a lake view.

The group enjoying their favourite smoothies!

After settling in we went out to explore the little village. Of course we had to find a smoothie spot, which we did, and revisited atleast once a day. We also found a variety of other small shops including a really cool custom shoe store. We concluded the day by relaxing by the pool of another hostel and hanging out with some other backpacking friends we had met along the way. The next day woke up to sunshine, got out daily smoothie fix, and raced over to the other hostel to try and gt a spot. Luckily we were successful and switched hostels! Later on that day, we hopped on one of the local boats and headed across the lake to the traditional Miyan village, Santiago. We were immediately bombarded with tour guides trying to get our business. We picked one and he lead us to two religious place in the town. First was the traditional Miyan religion, and second was the Catholic church, which happened to be the oldest in Central America. We then shopped the local markets, had a bite to eat, and hopped back on the boat to San Pedro. We ended the day with a lovely meal at an Asian restaurant called The Buddha, not the most traditional Central American cuisine, but it was so tasty! The next day we unfortunately had to level San Pedro a day ahead or schedule due to transportation issues. We woke up early, got our smoothie fix, and caught the bus back to Antigua.

Back in Antigua, we checked into a new hostel and headed out to search for food. After a long search, we caved and went back to the restaurant we knew and loved. Our next task was to find some internet. We found a nice little café near the hostel where we grabbed a coffee and checked back in with reality. For dinner, we ate Mexican food... in Guatemala. It was yummy though! We were off to bed early, so we could we up to catch our bus. By 3:45am we were out the door and waiting for bus. Shortly after we started or journey to Honduras!

After a fairly simple border crossing we arrived in Copán! We made our way to our lovely hostel on the outskirts of the town. It was interesting the find a horse in the front yard, no halter or anything. We all had a nice afternoon nap after our travels, and a quiet evening. The next morning we geared up for our busy day. We started with a 3 hour horseback riding tour, led by a local farmer. We had fun trying race each other, but all had sore bums after 3 hours! After a quick lunch, we hopped into the back of a pick up truck and raced of to ziplining! We ziplined through all 16 stages in the canopy. One of the lines was a kilometer long! The tour was great and so were the local guides. The next day, still not hearing from our hosts t the next destination, we decided to style in Copán for one more day. We shopped the local market, got some smoothies and visited the archaeological museum. We finished the day by catching a film at one of the other hostels.

By Robin Green, volunteer

Find out more about the Central America Ethical Adventure Trail.

Tuesday
Feb042014

Volunteer Blog: Nick Clark

Our second week in Central America saw us leave Flores and arrive, after a bumpy nine and a half hour journey, in the rural town of Lanquín in the middle of the Guatemalan jungle. Our hostel was a short way away from the town, and consisted of jungle-style huts right by a bright blue river.

The Semuc Champey

The following day we travelled to Semuc Champey, an amazing natural water feature. Our first activity saw us climb through underwater caves, lit only by the candles we were holding, where we slid down natural slides, jumped off ledges into the water and climbed through holes! After this we went tubing down the river in the sun, followed by a swim in Semuc Champey's warm natural pools. We then had a day of relaxation around Lanquín, and in the evening we headed out for a few drinks with some friends we'd made along the way.

Our next stop was Antigua, a colonial town popular with travellers. After a day getting settled and exploring the town's Cathedrals and markets, we visited the recently erupted Pacaya volcano, where after a long hike we roasted marshmallows over drying lava and watched the sun set over the view, we could see almost the whole of Guatemala!

By Nick Clark

Find out more about the Central America Ethical Adventure Trail.

Monday
Jan202014

Volunteer blog: Robin Green

We have completed our first week on the Central America Trail, and we have already seen and done so much! We had a rocky start in Mexico City with currency exchanges, delayed flights and lost baggage, but it all worked out in the end. We were still able to check out La Torre Latino Americana, try some awesome street food, and make our way through the busy city on the metro!

After Mexico city we headed to San Cristobal de las Casas on a night bus. We checked into our hostel and headed out in search of some flip flops. After a long search through many stores we and markets we finally found a pair! Who knew men`s flp flops were so rare in Mexico? We also discovered our newest addiction; freshly squeezed orange juice! It became a daily ritual for us! We took a trip to San Juan Chamula to see the religious ceremonies that take place in the church, and shopped the local market. The higlight for me though was definitely the boat tour of the gorgeous Sumidero Canyon! We spent a bright sunny afternoon on a boat, checking out breathtaking views and some crocodiles, what could be better?

Next stop, Palenque! After an unexpectedly long bus trip, we were eager to find our hostel and find some food. We headed over to EL Panchan and checked into Jungle Palace! After a nice meal and removing a little visitor from our room (a big spider) we had a much needed rest. The next day was jam packed, starting with exploring the Miyan ruins in Palenque, then walking under the Miso-hal waterfall, and lastly taking a dip at the Agua Azul falls.

Our next adventure was to head to Guatemala! I did not expect to cross borders in a little motor boat....definitely a new experience! After a very bumpy ride, we made it to beautiful Flores! We checked in quickly and headed to the lake for a swim, so refreshing after a long day of travels. Finally to finish off our first week, we toured the Miyan Ruins of Tikal! We saw a tarantula, monkeys and got to see the sun set over the Guatemalan jungle. Incredible!!

Find out more about the Central America Ethical Adventure Trail.

Monday
Dec092013

Trail leader blog update - 9.12.13

Five of us started out the Central American Trail approximately 9 weeks ago in Mexico City. Since then, we’ve seen people by the thousands, buses packed to the brim, a wide variety of hostels, and more things than one can absorb in a day. Every day filled with activities, or completely without when relaxation was what we wanted, the group has definitely travelled a wondrous journey! Though we lost one from our pack, the 4 of us remaining made our way safely to camp to explore the Costa-Rican rainforest. 3 weeks in already – meaning this is ALREADY our final week here! Time flies when there are so many things to do; walks through the jungle, river exploration, hours spent on the beach (yes, working hours), and off days spent as you please. The wildlife is also incredible here as the OSA peninsula holds 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity. In other words, you will probably never see so many species in one place in your lifetime (unless you are an avid traveller).

Rio Oro exploration day. You can only imagine the sock tans we had...

2.5% of the world’s biodiversity, including (and not limited to) mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, plants, funghi, etc. This cool little guy was hanging around camp last week. 

For some of the group this trip will be one of their only opportunities to see such a place, for others it is just a beginning in their onward travels, and for me, it’s definitely proven that there will be an indefinite continuation. December 16th is the final date for this Trail group, when goodbyes will arrive to take us to our next corner of the world. Until then, happy Trails await us in the jungle. 

By Anik Levac

Find out more about the Central America Ethical Adventure Trail.