When the Kath is away...
Central and South America - 2005
About Me (2)
Costa Rica (2)
Kath's Confessional (3)
The Weird and the Wonderful (1)
Viva Mexico! (8)
* Horsing Around Chugchilan
* Through the Clouds to Chugchilan
* Half the fun is getting there - Saquisili
* A Dog Called Quito (and a city too...)
* Of Showers, Monsters and Monkeys
* Beach Bummers in Puerto Viejo...
* Costa Rica entry-turned-rant
* Learning to dive in Utila
* Leaving Guatemala
* Lazy Days in Lago Atitlan
* Little altars everywhere... Chichicastenango
* Shopaholic goes abroad - The Chichicastenango Market
* Half the fun is getting there... To Chichicastenango
* Comments on the El Mirador Trek
* El Mirador Trek - Day 6
* El Mirador Trek - Day 5
* El Mirador Trek - Day 4
* El Mirador Trek - Day 3
* El Mirador Trek - Day 2
* El Mirador Trek - Day 1
March 17, 2005
El Mirador Trek - Day 1
We got up at the crack of dawn (always a favourite of mine...) to meet the car that was to shuttle us and our gear to Carmelita, the start of the trek. Carmelita lies inside a Guatemalan Biosphere Reserve. It is a tiny town of around 90 people, named after the very first baby born at the settlement, the cute little Carmela who lives there to this day, though probably not quite so cute anymore. While we enjoyed a fortifying breakfast of eggs, beans and tortillas, our four packhorses were loaded up with all our food, water, hammocks, mozzie nets, sleeping bags and other supplies.
The poor skinny things were on loan from our guide Umbertoīs brother. Of the 12 kids in his family, 5 are involved in the tour business. There is little to do in terms of work in Carmelita, and most men work seasonally as chicleros (gathering gum from trees in the jungle) as well as tending their fields and being involved in tourism in one way or another. It is a hard life which pays just a few dollars a day. Our horseman, Geronimo, had his hands full loading up the unwilling horses, one of which was clearly not in the mood to trudge through the jungle with a heavy burden. I wondered if heīd create problems later in the trip.
We walked for an easy 5 hours the first day, including a "lunch" break of wonderbread and processed cheese and jam. A nice sign of the culinary delights still to come over the next 6 days. Arriving at our first campsite, the unexplored Maya ruins of El Tintal, we found the place a complete mess. There was another group on the trail, a few days ahead of us, who apparently had not heard of the concept of hauling out your own trash. This, of course, had attracted thousands of ants which we had to get rid of before thinking about setting up camp. How to get rid of an invading army of ants? Simple, according to Umberto and Geronimo who swiftly swept them away with some branches before spreading ash around the perimeter to deter them from coming back. This genious piece of jungle wisdom ensured an ant free camp. Ant free, but not spider free... On my very first night I had the pleasure of standing face to face with no less than three huge spiders, one hairy tarantula with eggs and two scary light brown ones, all more than 5cm in diameter. Thatīs what I call therapy...
Before bedtime, we had the pleasure of a visit from the group who previously stayed in the camp, now on their way back. Scaring us silly with tales of "hundreds of huge spiders everywhere" and "thousands of ticks crawling all over them", they were also gloating about having stolen pieces of ceramics from El Mirador while the guards werenīt looking. I started to dislike both them and their guide.
I wonīt lie, it took me some time to finally fall asleep that first night. I kept having dreams of hairy things sitting on my mosquito net, rather too close to my face... of course there were none except in my vivid imagination. Sleeping in a hammock, though, turned out to be super comfortable and I finally drifted off listening to the sounds of leaves falling on our tarp (leaves, not spiders! Leaves, not spiders!!), crickets, birds, and the occasional howler monkey.
Posted by kvabo on March 17, 2005 04:24 PM
Email this page