Browse Category

Central America

Good times in Antigua Guatemala

After around 7 weeks in warm and humid places it was a relief to arrive the small mountain village Antigua in Guatemala and finally breathe some fresh air again. With cosy streets everywhere, colorful houses, picturesque architecture, friendly people and surrounded by volcanoes – I liked this place on instant. Since I only had 4-5 days in Guatemala, I chose this city because of it’s good reputation and also that it’s near to Guatemala’s most spectacular attraction: the Acatenango Volcano.

Meeting up with some Australian people I met in El Salvador we decided to do a two-day hike up this volcano 4000 meters above sea level, which is a pretty tough altitude, especially when you have spent the last 7-8 weeks at sea level. I’m glad I did a challenging hike in Nicaragua so my legs were somewhat prepared for things to come. From the start it was STRAIGHT up for about 4 hours with 25-30 kilo of packing, starting on 2400 meters above sea level to were we set camp on 3600 meters above sea level. The hike up was warm due to the steepness and the good weather, but as soon as the sun went down it got blistering cold – and beautiful. First we could enjoy a spectacular sunset and then we got to see the volcano Fuego erupt multiple times. Spitting out lava and sounding like a massive explosion this really was an unique experience.

At 4 AM we started the approach towards the summit at 3976 meters above sea level to see the sunset at 05.30 AM. I’ve been on higher mountains many times, but never as cold as this. I guess around 4-5 minus degrees Celsius and a harsh wind blowing made it really cold, even though I was proper dressed with wind-stoppers and even a down jacket. The sunrise was short but beautiful, before the clouds came and blocked so to speak all the view.

Back in town I had 1,5 days left before leaving for Belize. The plan for this time was: doing nothing. Or at least not more than just stroll around the streets, enjoying the weather, some good juices and tasty food. It’s very cheap here and the food was amazing – and I never use superlatives unless when I really mean it. These 1,5 days was really good – ironic enough even better than hiking the volcano, even if that also was an epic adventure. I met a Danish girl also traveling on her own. Though she “only” is away for two months, we agreed that sometimes the best days are the days when you have no plans and no big highlights, but just enjoy the everyday-life and do whatever you feel like doing. The best things in life are free and small details can make big difference.

After 4-5 days in the mountains, I’m now looking forward to some crystal clear water in the Caribbean and since I’m going to a small island I hope the breeze will make sure it’s not too humid. Time will tell, as always.Guatemala

El Salvador – heaven or hell?

A lot of surveys say El Salvador is the world’s most dangerous country outside a war-zone. With almost 7000 registered homicides in 2015 and a story of a backpacker being kidnapped and killed in the capital San Salvador recently, I ain’t gonna argue that fact. Just to get some perspective: in 2015 there was 4 homicides per 100 000 people in the US – in El Salvador there was a staggering 104 per 100 000. So why is it so dangerous? If you have three minutes you should read this: Why El Salvador is so dangerous and violent

If you by some strange reason don’t have three minutes and just one, you should keep on reading here.

  • It all goes back the the civil war started in 1979 and ended in 1992.
  • After the war the country was flooded with guns and people used to war and fighting
  • Gangs were created, now said to rule the country
  • Corruption; the mayor of San Salvador is said to be in alliance with the gangs
  • Poverty – desperate people do desperate acts in order to get money.
  • Drug trafficking. The cocaine from Colombia passes El Salvador on the way up to the United States.
  • The worst part: predictions say it will only become even worse.

Enough history – why did I go here and how was it?

Rumors are usually not as bad as the reality and I thought that there has to be some nice places even in this country. After some research I found a coastal surf town named El Tunco – so I went there with mixed feelings. I left with only positive feelings. The place was perhaps not the most beautiful I have ever been, but it was extremely relaxed, cheap, had good surf and the people living there super friendly. When you think of it it’s not strange; for them tourism is everything, so they really work hard in order to please the people going here and to keep it safe.

I only spent 2,5 days here but it was enough in such a small place. The days were spent enjoying the nice weather, the surf and just relaxing. Going to bed early and sober in order to reach the sunrise surf is something I value more than sitting in a bar, but that’s just me. Here I also met the first Norwegians on this trip so far.

So, sometimes rumors are not as bad as they say. Mostly actually. And if you have a business idea, a goal or a dream – don’t care about what other people say, just  do it!
El Tunco

Nicaragua should be named Niceragua

Sorry for the spoiler alert in the headline, but this country was nice in many ways! Coming from Costa Rica I would say CR and Nicaragua offers pretty much the same kind of attractions and experiences: beach, surf and hiking – three things I don’t mind at all.

San Juan is a small coastal town by the Pacific ocean. Everything here is a little smaller, cheaper and less developed compared to Costa Rica. Here you don’t find the big hotels along the beaches, the mountains are not as high but one thing was bigger here; the waves. I had a hard time catching them since they were a lot faster, bigger and more powerful – but to progress your skills, no matter what it is, you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. The relaxed vibe here in addition to the beautiful small colored streets and houses makes it easy to “kill” a couple of days in this place.

After many weeks by the ocean I was really looking forward to go hiking again. I went to an island in Lake Nicaragua called Ometepe which consists of two volcanoes. I went here mainly to get away from the ocean for some days and to do some hiking, but this turned out to be some very interesting days – and I’m not talking about the hiking. On the boat on my way to the island I met a girl from Nicaragua (now living in the US) and we got to know each other on the boat ride and it was interesting to hear her stories growing up in a poor country like Nicaragua. We also made a plan to leave together the same day and go to the city of Leon. I’m so grateful I met her both as a person and also for helping me getting to Leon. The day I went there was the day before a big holiday here so the buses were PACKED with people and it would have taken me many hours getting there. She had connections in Nicaragua so we were lucky driving a car to Leon instead of taking the bus. That saved me many hours and a lot of energy – so if you read this: muchas gracias, señorita!

Though, the most interesting part of Ometepe island was staying with a local family. When arriving I went to a hostel, but since I was the only one there they invited me to stay in their home instead – which I gladly said yes to. Even though they only spoke Spanish we could understand each other a little bit. It was interesting to see and feel how it is to live under such circumstances. As a refrigerator they used a bucked which they filled with ice that they got from the neighbor who were lucky enough to have a freezer. I like to think that I have perspective on both the world and my own life, but you can never be reminded too many times how lucky we are living in the northern parts of Europe. I’m a very honest person, but I felt I had to take a white lie when the family asked me for how long I was traveling; I said just for 2 weeks in Nicaragua then back home. The world is sometimes an unfair place and I didn’t want to remind this family of that fact, since none of the family members had ever left their own country and I’m traveling for more than a year and have visited all of the continents multiple times.

So, all in all Nicaragua was a place I really liked. The only thing I didn’t like about my visit here, was that it was so short – only a week, but considering the life I’m living I guess that’s a luxury problem.

San Juan Del Sur

Ometepe Island