We'd decided to use some of the $ given to us as an engagement present to treat ourselves to a couple of nights R&R, staying in a 2 level treehouse at the Earth Lodge - special thanks to Tim & Robyn for this one!
It was a pretty steep climb up there (by car, thankfully), which then drops you off 1km out. Earth lodge is some sort of "Eco Hostel", still not sure how deep that goes, it wasn't all tree huggers and hippies, but there's a clear relaxed vibe, with lots of lying around in hammocks and some outlandish beards and hairdo's.
On arrival (it's early) our epic treehouse hasn't been cleaned yet, so we get a map and set off on a little hike around the area. It's hilly, but this hour long walk is really only mentionable for 2 reasons. 1) we pass a local family going the other way and a girl aged about 13 gives CP a "bouquet" of flowers that she's made along the way. 2) we spot what appears to be the body of a farmer slumped over in a field - looks pretty concerning so we stand and watch for a while to see if he moves. We're about 50m above him so climbing down is going to be tricky, so our best option is to stand where we are shouting "HOLA! SEÑOR! HOLA!", to no response or movement from the guy. After a solid 10 minutes of watching this potentially dead or dying man, we decide that we have to clamber down to see if he's alive... and at this point he rolls over and scratches his arse -crisis averted.
Safely back at the lodge, with no other farmers disturbed from their mid-morning naps, and there's just enough time to wolf down some lunch (all natural salad of course) before we hustle off to the school that has been set up by the lodge, to assist with the art project that their doing that afternoon. Clearly, this is not going to be my area of expertise... kids, art, me...
Friday (or Saturday, depending on who you ask) was to be Mothers Day in Guat, so the teacher (a volunteer staying at the lodge for the last 6 months) decided that the kids would each make a simple card by outlining flowers with pencil & colouring them by gluing wool to the paper. I'm expecting this to be chaos as there's about 30 kids, ranging in age from maybe 6 to 13.
To their credit, after a slow start, there is some pretty fine artwork going on, and a lot less kids gluing themselves to themselves (or each other) that I had expected. Also they're pretty self sufficient so my role is largely restricted to drawing a few flowers and fetching more wool. After an hour and a half of this, most of the kids are finished and someone suggests taking a football outside. No shortage of volunteers for this, and we quickly have a game going on the concrete court outside. I'm only marginally better at this than the art to be fair, but at least everyone's having fun!
Suddenly all the kids are heading back to the school, and it transpires that the bus is there to take them home, so our time at the school is over - and I've survived! As we walk back to the lodge we're stopped by some of the kids who want to show us their dog - a stunning little husky with one blue eye and one brown, being kept on all to short a chain, who was clearly terrified! As the dog was literally shaking as it stood, CP enlisted a small child to cautiously approach the dog with her. She needn't have worried as he was loving the attention and really jdidn't want us to leave. Seems the family kept him as a pet but didn't spend anytime petting him, as we had to encourage the kids to have a go, one by one... maybe he's getting a bit more love now?!
Finally back at the lodge, our room was ready - and it is amazing! The room is great but we soon discover that one of its best features is that it comes with its own bathroom which with an incredible open air view - which we'll be seeing a lot of over the duration of our stay... It's about now that the "little present" that we brought back from Lago de Atitlan really begins to surface.
Moving on... it's time for dinner. Earth Lodge has a relatively small kitchen setup, with all food freshly prepared everyday. This means that if you want to eat dinner, there is one menu option and it's served at the same time to everyone, to eat together. It's a nice idea, you meet a whole bunch of people that you probably wouldn't otherwise, and the foods pretty good. If you don't want to do this... well that isn't really an option as the nearest place is miles away. On day 1, we ate with a couple who were on their honeymoon (!), and a Guat guy and US girl who were doing a 3-4 week trip round Guat. This guy could talk... he managed to out talk CP which is quite a special achievement. Nice guy, but we're fading fast and have to take advantage of a rare pause in conversation to make an exit.
Next day, I woke up late - probably would have been later if it hadn't been for CP punching me. Undeterred, I transitioned seamlessly from bed to hammock and slept some more. Then came the Mayan Sauna. This is essentially against pizza oven, you like a fire at the back of it (outside...), wait half an hour then splash a load of water around inside. Sweatbox!
Soon after this, the real trouble started. Having just about made it through dinner, what followed was not pleasant... either now or any of the half dozen times that either Carly or I had to run there as quickly as possible to avoid the impending doom. At least the.view from the toilet was good! Seems that I have it worse (tho Carly will suffer more later on, haha) and dragging myself + bags up the 1km climb to get back to Antigua the next morning pretty much destroyed me.
Before we left there was time to sponsor a child at the school - just $25 which apparently is enough to buy all their school books and materials for a year and lots more. Where do they shop?!
Animals played with: cats Crunchy & Monkey, dogs Lola & Rufus
Toilet visits: too many to count...